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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Happy birthday, Davis!

I know, I know- it doesn't seem possible, but somehow, some way, my sweet little nephew, Davis, turns one year old today!

I thought it would be appropriate to link back to the letter I wrote to him just 2 days before he made his arrival last year, seeing as he hasn't had time to put all of my priceless advice into practice yet. Be sure to go back and check it out!

Davis, your Uncle Brian and I love you so much and are more thankful than you will ever know to have had you as a substitute while we wait for our own baby. Don't worry- when we finally have that baby of our own, I promise we will still love and spoil you every chance you get.

Happy 1st birthday, buddy! Hope it's much less traumatizing than last year's birthday :)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Update/Prayers requested!

Greetings from Austin!

Ok so here's the rundown: Monday's, Wednesday's, and today's appointments have all gone fairly well. There are a couple of follicles developing (really one main follicle) on my right ovary, and my bloodwork and uterine lining look good.

The nurse called me around 4:30 this afternoon asking me to come in TOMORROW for one last follicle scan and bloodwork. This would have been no problem except for one tiny detail: I am currently sitting on Allison's & Wade's couch in Austin- approximately 2.5 hours away.

I asked her if there was any other option, but she said she would have to check with the doctor and call me back. She called back a few minutes later and told us that the doctor wants me to go ahead and continue with our shots tonight and tomorrow night, and then do the trigger shot on Sunday night.

From there, we will go in for an IUI on Monday AND again on Tuesday. For those that don't know, once I do the trigger shot, I will ovulate somewhere between 24-48 hours later, so we'll do the IUI 12 hours later and again 36 hours later in hopes of increasing our odds.

SO with all that said, I am going to try very hard not to beat myself up and second guess our decision not to go back for another appointment tomorrow. Please, please, please, PLEASE pray that this will not be an issue and that the timing with the trigger and IUI's will work out perfectly. And of course, that at least one follicle is able to get the job done.

I'll keep you posted eventually, but in the meantime, thanks for praying :)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

National Infertility Awareness Week

That's right- it's National Infertility Awareness Week! I realize I'm a little tardy to the party being that it's already Thursday, but as I always (ok, never) say, better late than never, right? (Wrong.)

The theme this year is "Don't Ignore Infertility," and bloggers are supposed to write posts around that topic. However, I think you would all agree that I do a fairly decent job of "not ignoring" infertility year-round, so I decided to be a rebel and not stick to the assigned topic. I know, who am I and what did I do with the real Amanda?!

Nonetheless, I do want to share a few tidbits/thoughts:

- This is a funny post I recently read on 999 Reasons to Laugh at Infertility about how much sub-fertile people like to listen to complaints from people about pregnancy symptoms (Disclaimer: it's obviously totally ok for pregnant people to complain, and to my pregnant friends: please don't stop talking to me! I just thought this was amusing/relatable!)

- On a more serious note, a friend recently shared this article about what NOT to say to a friend who's struggling with infertility. Other things that you should probably avoid saying/doing:

1. Don't one-up the person with your own infertility story. 
(Example: "We have been dealing with infertility for a little over a year and are just starting our first round of Clomid. It's really tough." 
Response: "Oh, honey, that's nothing- it took us 4 years, 3 failed IVF's, and 1 miscarriage before we finally got pregnant with little Jimmy!")

If you have been there, done that, then you can be a sympathetic shoulder to cry on and a much-needed source of support that can actually relate. You are not making us feel better by telling us why your journey was so much harder!

On a related note, definitely do not one-up the person with the infertility story of someone you know. Telling me that it took your friend 10 years to conceive a baby does not exactly fill me with hope.

(To clarify, I do always appreciate hearing others' stories that end up being successful... it is just helpful to put the emphasis on the happy ending rather than how miserable it was up until that point!)

2. Don't belittle their struggle by pointing out how much worse their situation could be.
People have actually done this to me and I sincerely believe they thought they were being helpful. Yes, there are many difficult trials in life (terminal illnesses, divorce, the death of a loved one, etc.), and I'm all for having a good dose of perspective every now and again. However, while I agree that it is very sad that so-and-so found out she has cancer, I don't think that makes my own situation any less sad or difficult to deal with. And again, it certainly doesn't make me feel better!

3. Tread lightly on the topic of adoption.
I know this is a controversial topic, so I will keep it brief. I am of the opinion that adoption should be a call, NOT a consolation. Brian and I do not want to adopt a child simply because we aren't able to have children of our own. If we decide to adopt (which, by the way, is a very personal decision!), then we would like that decision to be made as independently from our infertility issues as possible.

That's all for now. I don't mean for this to sound negative, and I know that it can be tough to find the right words to say, especially if this is a road you've never walked down. For me personally, just having someone listen and check in on me to see how I'm doing is more than enough... and of course, baked goods don't hurt, either :)

Happy (?!) National Infertility Awareness Week to you all!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Way back when-sday

Today's WBW is in honor of my other mother, who just so happens to have a birthday today!

Back in the day when I used to travel for my sorority, I had the good fortune of visiting a school in Lake Charles, Louisiana, called McNeese State. It just so happened that Terrie (and Don!) attended that school AND grew up in the LC, so I was able to put my stalking skills to use while I was there and find a few old pics of her:

Isn't she cute? I think Shannon (my SIL) looks just like her!

 I was impressed to learn that she was a member of the Kilties (?!), a Snare Drummer, a member of the French Club, Student Council, Tri-Hi-Y (??), FTA (Future Teachers of America, I believe), FBLA (??), as well as Youth and Government!

Here's another gem- looks very 70s, wouldn't you agree? 

Fast forward several years and here we are together in 2006 right after her stud muffin of a son had the good sense to propose to me :) I look homeless in this picture but I still think it's a sweet moment! 

And speaking of that stud muffin of a son, here they are together, accidentally matching at one of our wedding showers! 

Here is proud mama pictured with the original 4 Joiners. I may not be one of the originals myself, but thankfully she loves and and treats me just like I am :)

And here I am with her and my mom at my bachelorette party back in 2007. How lucky am I to have not one, but TWO wonderful moms?

I really am convinced that Terrie is the greatest mother-in-law that ever lived, and I am so very thankful that when God blessed me with a husband, He also blessed me with her (oh, and the rest of the fam, too)!

My birthday wish for Terrie is that she would get to be a grandma before the end of this century sooner rather than later... if she is even half as good of a grandma as she has been a mom to both Brian AND me, then that will be one lucky baby!

Happy birthday, Terrie! We love you! 

Now go join in on the WBW fun:
The Hill's Country

Monday, April 23, 2012

Catching up

Happy Monday, all! Just checking in to let you all know that I'm still alive... not fully functioning, but alive nonetheless!

Let's go ahead and get the fertility update out of the way, shall we? I went in for my first follicle scan on Friday morning and was a little disappointed to find that my follicles had made no progress. The nurse reassured me that this was normal being that (a) it was still very early in my cycle (only day 7), and (b) I had been on the lowest dosage of the injections.

I appreciated her reassurance, especially because we all know that if it had been Robot Nurse, her response would have been something more like, "Hmm, doesn't look like you've made any progress. At all. So enjoy a life of emptiness and solitude. Oh, and come back in a couple of days for another scan- not that there's really any point..." And Nurse Goldfish would have thrown in a "WHOA, has anyone ever told you that you have polycystic ovaries?!" at the beginning for good measure.

But the fact that she was nice and not a total idiot didn't make up for the fact that I was still disappointed. If I'm going to get a shot in my stomach every day for 4 days straight, then I want the proverbial gold star on my chart- is that so much to ask?!

Anyway, they did my bloodwork (newsflash: that is getting really old, really fast) and called me back that afternoon with the new game plan: I was to continue with the lowest dosage for Friday night, then double the dosage for Saturday and Sunday night, and then come back in on Monday morning for another scan. My appointment is at 10:30 am today, so if you are reading this prior to that point, please, please, please pray for SOME kind of progress! If not, I fear that you may find my face on the evening news for having run like a crazy person into oncoming traffic on highway 59 (just kidding) (kind of).

On the downside, I am not handling the stress of this whole ordeal as well as I would have hoped. I cannot stop clenching my jaw (particularly in my sleep), and to say that I have been moody and emotionally fragile would be a major understatement.

On the upside, due to an unusually busy after-work calendar last week, we have had the pleasure of doing the injections in a wide variety of settings, including the following:

- our bathroom
- my grandparents' bathroom
- the men's restroom at the Museum of Natural Science (To the janitor that wondered in while Brian was preparing the syringe: contrary to what it looked like, my husband is not, in fact so addicted to drugs that he has to shoot up in the museum's restroom after hours.)
- our friends' guest bathroom during an Aggie Muster dinner

In hindsight, I'm thinking that I should have photographed each spot so that I could provide you with a better visual. However, at the time, I was unfortunately distracted by the fact that I would be getting yet another shot in the stomach as well as having to explain to yet another person why my husband was taking so long in the bathroom (and why I was eventually going to be joining him) so you're out of luck.

So that's where we are. Doesn't this sound fun?

On a lighter note, I wanted to share a few other tidbits from our lives lately, because believe it or not, infertility does not stop the world from going round:

- We recently saw the re-release of Titanic in 3-D IMAX and it was life-changing. It was just as amazing as when I saw it the first time (and second time... and third time) in the theater back in 9th grade. I didn't cry, but I admittedly got goosebumps when the music from "My Heart Will Go On" started playing.

FYI, my favorite scene is at the end when Jack and the rest of the peeps that died on the boat are waiting for Rose at the top of the stairs (spoiler alert) after she dies as an old woman (warm in her bed, just as Jack had hoped... tear).

- Speaking of life-changing events, they are opening a Tiff's Treats in Houston! They have been in Austin for a while now, and I'm going to go out on a limb and say that they make the best-tasting cookies I've ever had. I'm sad to report, however, that both my place of residence and place of work are outside of the Houston location's delivery area :o(

- While we're on the topic of dessert, I recently ran the Blue Bell 5k (yes, as in the ice cream) in Brenham. My friend, Brittany, and her sister, Alli, invited me to join them, and as soon as I realized that we would be receiving Blue Bell as a reward after crossing the finish line, I was in :) Here's a pic from our adventure:

I was expecting an actual scoop of ice cream, but truth be told, a popsicle sounded a little more appealing after running 3 miles.

So now you're all caught up- congrats! I'll be sure to keep you all posted again soon eventually!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Let the games begin

Just a quick update to let you all know that yesterday's appointment went well. My ultrasound and bloodwork were both normal (well, if you consider polycystic ovaries to be "normal"), so they instructed me to start the injections last night. Hooray!

We'll continue to do injections (Bravelle) through Thursday night, and I'll go in for my first follicle scan and more bloodwork on Friday morning. From there, we'll reevaluate whether or not we need to increase/decrease/maintain the same dosage of meds. I'll probably go in for another follicle scan or two (and yes, more bloodwork) next week before doing the trigger shot (Ovidrel) and then eventually the IUI. 

Oh, and all the while, I'll be continuing to go to acupuncture. Translation: there are a lot of needles in my near future. Lucky me.

Anyway, as you can imagine, this process is consuming most of my thoughts and energy, so pardon me if I take a little break from blogging for a bit. If something hysterical happens (or if I just feel like telling you what kind of food I have been eating to reward myself for my bravery), then I might report back, but don't be surprised if you see fewer posts in the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, please join us in praying for the following:

1. That my ovaries would produce an appropriate number of follicles - NO hyper-stimulation, please!!
2. That the Bravelle shots wouldn't hurt too much (thankfully Brian is a great nurse!)
3. That the IUI would be perfectly timed (we are going out of town for Davis's 1st birthday (!!) the weekend after this one, so we are hoping that there won't be any timing conflicts)
4. That we would get pregnant this cycle and never have to do this again!
5. That God's glory would continue to be our goal and His will would be our guide... and in fact, if you don't have time to pray #1-#4, then this one should suffice since it's all-encompassing :)

Thanks for your support, prayers, encouragement, and understanding!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Way back... yesterday

In honor of Way back when-sday, I’m going to do a post that goes all the way back to yesterday afternoon. And there will be no pictures. So… enjoy!

I had my follow-up appointment yesterday and it lasted all of 20 minutes, which was nice considering we spent more time than that sitting in the waiting room at the last appointment. Dr. H basically verified the clear results of the hysteroscopy and confirmed that we were ready to charge full steam ahead with the injections and IUI. Yep, that’s right, it’s time to get this party started!

Before I was able to leave, I had to have some bloodwork done because apparently they can’t just take my word for it when I say that I do not, in fact, have HIV or any other STD’s. I did at least have the option of declining genetic testing (if you want to know why we opted out, feel free to ask and I’m happy to share!).

The person that took my blood was not exactly the model of friendliness. She sat me in a chair directly facing a bulletin board COVERED in pictures of (presumably) babies that had been conceived by former patients. I asked her if they put those pictures up to motivate those of us that are still trying to get pregnant, to which she just shrugged and said, “I’m not sure.” Apparently my joke was poorly delivered and/or simply not amusing.

Speaking of poor delivery, she made sure to tell me before she got started that she had “quite a few tubes” to fill. As you can imagine, the next 2 minutes did not pass by quickly and the small talk was kept to a minimum… ok there was no small talk at all. I just stared jealously at other people’s babies. Fun times!

Anyway, per Dr. H’s instructions, I’ll stop taking the birth control pills on Thursday (hallelujah, praise the LORD), and then go in on Monday morning for a baseline ultrasound. They will also use that appointment to teach Brian and myself how to do the injections. I am thinking about bringing my ipod or just plugging my ears the whole time while closing my eyes and repeating, “I’m not listening! I’m not listening! I’m not listening!” so that I don’t have to think about the injections at all. Or maybe I’ll act like a grown adult… we’ll see.

Either way, Brian is going to be the one tasked with (a) paying attention to the instructions and (b) actually giving me the injections, so I’m glad that he’ll be able to attend. And speaking of injections, the specialty pharmacy called this morning to tell me the total cost. She excitedly informed me that with the non-insurance discount, the meds will be all mine for the low, low price of $759!! What a steal!!

(All sarcasm aside, I was expecting the cost to be more like $1,500… which it still may end up being if we have to get refills… but regardless, I was thankful that it was less than what I feared!)

Something else I also found amusing: the 800 consent forms we have to sign. Most of them basically clarify that this is not a guarantee of pregnancy and it may not work and blah blah blah, which I expected. What I did not expect, however, was the following:

We fully agree and understand that [the clinic] shall not be responsible for, nor has given any guarantees or warranties for the physical or mental characteristics of any child or children conceived or born following insemination. We release [clinic] from all liability for the mental or physical nature or character of any child conceived…

What?! Do you mean to tell me that if our child/children end up being dumb, ugly, mean, fat, or just plain irritating that we can’t hold you responsible?! How is that fair?!

Ha! Also, we have to initial next to a statement that begins, “I have infertility and desire treatment…” I like that it says I “have” infertility, like someone “has” the flu.

And lastly, as a twin, I also very much enjoyed the following:

I understand, acknowledge and agree that the procedures for ovulation induction can lead to complicated twins.

The good news is that there is no risk of UN-complicated twins, so there's one less thing to worry about!

Alright, I’m done being a sass box. Promise. Well, until my next post, anyway :)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I'm a survivor

Good news, all- the hysteroscopy went well! Or at least, so I was told, because I don't remember any of the actual procedure, thankfully.

We arrived at the surgery center at 7:45 and were on our way home by 11 am, and most of the 3+ hours in between were spent waiting, so it was a pretty quick procedure. Some highlights:

- When answering the 8 million questions about whether or not I smoke, have high blood pressure, etc., I noticed that the last question on the form was: "Are you or should you be pregnant?" SHOULD I be pregnant? Do you really want me to get started on this topic? Unfortunately for me/fortunately for them, there was only the option of checking "yes" or "no," so I didn't have room to expand any further.

- My anesthesiologist (who was, coincidentally, Asian) was wearing a scrub cap with pictures of different types of sushi on it.

- The doctor came to talk to us after I woke up and let us know that everything went well. He showed us a few very fascinating (sarcasm) pictures of the inside of my uterus, and said that they found no abnormalities. All in all, he said it was a "pretty boring procedure," which is apparently exactly the kind of procedure he prefers, so hooray for that!

- On the way home, we stopped to pick up some lunch from Chili's, courtesy in part to a gift card Allison sent me by e-mail last week. When I handed Brian the printout I noticed that the message she had written was now going to be shared with the unsuspecting cashier at the to-go counter:

Amanda, You must use this gift card to buy (most of) an order of chips & queso before your hysteropotamusoctomy - it will bring good luck to your uterus (don't ask me how)! Love, Allison

I'm sure someone had a good laugh/look of concern at our expense, but I'm ok with that. If they start including "brings good luck to female reproductive organs" on the chips and queso description on their menu, you'll know whom to thank. (Also, to clarify, she misspelled "hysteroscopy" on purpose. We're funny like that.)

Anyway, once we made it home, I spent the rest of the day lounging on the couch with my best pal, the heating pad. Other than cramps and a sore throat from the breathing tube, I didn't feel too shabby... although if I had been allowed to take a shower/bath prior to this morning, I would have felt even better!

Thanks again for all of your prayers and encouragement. We are glad to have this behind us and ready for what's next! I'll be calling today to schedule a follow-up consultation with Dr. H, and from there we should have a game plan for the injections/IUI. As always, I'll be sure to keep you posted.

Oh, and about that UteTube link... as luck would have it, they forgot to give me my own copy to take home, but don't worry, I got to keep one of the aforementioned uterus pictures as a memento:

Ha ha JK, obviously. I just googled "barren desert" and that's what came up. You're welcome :)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Way Back When-sday

FYI, the hysteroscopy is scheduled for 9 am, so the good news is that I likely will not starve to death as I originally feared!

For this week's Way Back When-sday, let's take a little trip back to Easter 2008, aka: the first Easter that Brian and I celebrated as a married couple.

We spent the weekend at Brian's grandparents' ranch in La Grange, and I was particularly proud of this culinary contribution:

Aren't they cute? They are basically peanut butter haystacks with M&M's and in addition to being festive, they are delicious.

As I have mentioned before, one of our Easter weekend traditions at the ranch is to cook out burgers, which always results in a photo shoot with Brian's sister, Shannon, and myself. However, back in 2008, we were apparently inspired to do another photo shoot while preparing the burgers. Enjoy:

My favorite. As you can imagine, Brian gets this look a lot :)

And this one :)

This one was taken the next day, but I liked the pastel colors, so I thought I'd throw it in there for good measure.

So there you have it, friends. Hoppy Easter to you all!

Oh, and be sure to head over to Katie's blog to join in on the WBW fun:

The Hill's Country

Monday, April 2, 2012

Man, I feel like a woman (part 2)

Oh, hey, did I mention I was taking last week off from blogging? I didn't? Well I meant to. Either that, or as the week went on and I couldn't come up with a thing to write about, I decided to just quit while I was behind and start over this week.

For those that have been taking notes, you will recall that this is the week of the hysteroscopy. Hooray! I am not actually nervous about the procedure... ok maybe I'm a little nervous about the IV, but I know that it will be fine. I'm really just more anxious to have the whole thing over with so we can get started with injections and the eventual IUI.

And yes, I did just say that I was nervous about getting an IV (due to the needle) and one sentence later say that I was anxious to get started with injectable (read: via needles) medication. Don't try to understand the logic of an sub-fertile person.

I'm not sure if it's because of the increasing number of my friends that are pregnant/already parents OR my hormones adjusting to being back on birth control, but I have found myself feeling particularly down and out lately about the whole inability to procreate thing.

I know I have said this at least a thousand times, and I know you have all responded kindly by reminding me that "life is not a race" and "God's timing for you is not the same as for everyone else," at least a thousand times, but I just feel BEHIND. I am very tired of feeling like many of the people we love most and are closest to are moving on (or have already moved on) to this new phase of life while we are still stuck in childless newlywed mode.

The silver lining is that Brian and I really do enjoy spending time together. And 4.5 years of marriage later, we have gotten pretty good at being childless. But we just can't help but feel like the number of people in our same boat are dwindling. And so sometimes that makes our boat feel a little lonely.

All this to say, I realize there is a very real possibility that we will be jumping out of said boat in the near future, so I am trying to keep reminding myself that this is temporary. As I indicated above, however, that was MUCH easier to do before I went back on birth control.

I was worried that this might happen when the doctor told me to go back to taking birth control pills precisely because of posts like this one (which was, for the record, written just one month before we finally gave birth control the boot). And sure enough, just a few days after I started taking it again, the uncontrollable urge to cry at any time and for any reason reappeared.

I have just become so unbelievably sensitive and I'm not sure how to handle myself (and as you can imagine, neither is Brian, but God bless him, he tries!). Everything (and everyone) hurts my feelings on a very regular basis, and there has been at least one semi-public display of tears.

Anyway, I don't want to make an excuse for my mood swings, because medicated or not, I am responsible for how I behave and respond to my emotions. But it would just be nice if, for a change, I could just blame my raging hormones on pregnancy rather than infertility.

The end.

Oh, and I'll make sure to report back later this week about the hysteroscopy, with a link to the UteTube URL, too, of course :)