IVF · Reality · Shots · Uncategorized

Human Pincushion

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Since my last post we started taking 3 shots a night, adding Ganirelix (to make sure I don’t ovulate prematurely).  I. Feel. Like. A. Human. Pincushion.  Between the shots, the bloodwork, and the flu shot I threw in for good measure….there seems to always be a needle being shoved into my skin.

Last night was a rough one for a few reasons.  I decided to start watching the series “Call the Midwife”, which chronicles the life of a young midwife in 1950’s east London.  You would think watching all the babies being born would be what upset me, but no.  There was a man that reminded me of my dad who ended up dying from gangrene after having his legs amputated (because his tenement was torn down and NOBODY TOOK CARE OF HIS ABSSESSES IN THE NURSING HOME!!!!) which sent me into an emotional tailspin.  I spent a large part of the rest of the night hysterically crying because at some point in the far future my dad will eventually die, and my mom will eventually die, and my brother will eventually die, and Chase will eventually die and Bryan “BETER NOT DIE BEFORE ME”…irrational with a capital I.  Hormones.

My hyper-emotional state made the shots sting a little bit more.  After the menopure I definitely cried again.  It BURNS so much, I am pretty sure yesterday I screamed “GET IT OUT OF ME!” like one second after Bryan jabbed me.

Sad Chimmy After Midwife Show

On the bright side, the extreme suck that comes along with the menopure makes the third shot seem like a vacation.  I actually can’t wait for the third shot (Ganirelix) because it doesn’t hurt as much, that means the menopure is over, and it’s all easy peasy lemon squeezy from there.

There is another bright side that has emerged from all of this, and that is the gratitude I have for what has become our family routine in this journey.  Bryan jabs me every night at 9:45.  Around 9:30 he starts prepping alllll of the needles while I light a candle and sanitize my buzzy (still a little machine sent from the heavens).Captain Chase Chase takes his seat at the head of the table, and watches over pretty much everything that goes on. We start with the gonal, I grit my teeth through the meopure, and I begin to feel a little bit of excitement as Bryan jabs me with Ganirelix.  Bryan hands me a gauze pad if I am bleeding while he tells me how proud he is of me, my buzzy ices the injection sites, and we clean up.

After the shots, the whole family climbs into bed and we watch “The Ranch”…a kinda sorta OK show starring Ashton Kutcher.  We started watching “The Ranch” by accident, and it has now somehow become my comfort show-nudging out Big Bang theory (which I thought would neeeeeverrrrrr happen).  I love these moments with Bryan…they feel like victory.  We survived another night of shots, we are one day closer to Baby Shanahan, and we did it together.

I look forward to these moments every night…they have become such an important and meaningful time for us…and without all of this, without the struggle and the shots-I would probably still take this time together for granted.

It’s not ALL bad.  Tonight was a good night (despite a quick Valentine’s Day fiasco which involved me sitting on a broken chair at dinner and a three hour meal).  The shots still sucked, but there were no tears…in fact, I was smiling  and dancing the entire time.  Side note, it is NOT a good idea to dance when getting jabbed in the belly.  Bryan bought me a bangin box of handmade chocolate with the intention of giving me one piece after each shot as a reward (#IVFValentinesDay), and as I type we are all watching “The Ranch”.  I am so lucky.

We go for bloodwork and an ultrasound tomorrow.  If things look good we could trigger tomorrow night and the retrieval will be Saturday.  It’s all happening so fast!

#IVF Strong

 

 

 

 

Emotionssssss · IVF · Reality · Side Effects

Side Effect Tsunami

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Sooooo Bryan has only been jabbing me since last Thursday, but the side effects of all these crazy hormones hit me pretty much immediately.  It wasn’t until today, however, that I allowed myself to believe that everything I am feeling is a side effect…like I had to pretend this wasn’t going on because admitting the impact somehow made me weak.  Going into this I always pictured Bryan talking to friends and saying “Chimmy has been such a champ, I’ve barely noticed a difference.”  I am a rugby girl, I am tough…shouldn’t I be able to handle this better?

Get over yourself girl.

I am injecting hormones into myself nightly, and this is how it makes me feel…I feel sad.  Not all the time, but there are moments where I feel like I am going to break down into hysterical tears for no reason at all.  It’s almost like perpetual PMS, that day RIGHT before your period when you drop the butter knife in the sink before you are done with it and it turns you into an emotional jellyfish.

I also feel tired.  Extremely tired, and there is a haze within which I currently just exist.  I see people in front of me, and I know they are there…but I end up staring for a little too long before I actually begin to speak.  This happened today at the doctor during morning monitoring.  There was a nurse in the hallway, and as I was entering the exam room I stopped and just stared at her.  Wide-open fly catching mouth, tilted head, and what I assume was the most blank stare she has ever seen.  The moment seemed to last FOREVER until Bryan snapped me out of it.  I promptly apologized, and we laughed about my awkwardness for like 15 straight minutes.

Another amazing side effect…I am forgetful, but only about personal things.  For example, the other day I went to ShopRite to buy my Perrier (don’t judge me I can’t drink and I like the feel of the fancy glass bottle…k?) and some yogurt, and left my purse in the shopping cart.  I got home and realized that my purse was in the front of the cart…in the parking lot…at ShopRite.  I also lost my keys recently.  Went to the car to grab something in the morning and POOF, they were gone.  This, of course, sent me into an emotional tailspin as I was trying to run out of the door to work.  Poor, poor patient Bryan.  Luckily this hasn’t bled into my teaching duties yet.  Maybe I am using up all the brain space I have to keep myself organized and on-point in my classroom?  I do love those little buggers.

Finally, I am having hot flashes.  This is a particularly lovely side effect because, as you know, we are in the middle of one of the worst flu seasons ever.  I love teaching children about ordered pairs and being overtaken by a hot flash that has me CONVINCED they have given me the flu, and I will soon be a headline in the Asbury Park Press because I have died from the flu.  Have I mentioned the medicine makes me feel emotional/irrational?

I could sit here and feel like a crazy person-but I won’t.  I HAVE to remind myself that I am injecting myself with HORMONES EVERY NIGHT.  I am not weak, and I am not crazy.  If I need to cry, I will.  When I am tired, I will take a nap (at home, of course…well definitely not when teaching or driving for sure…) If I forget something, I will go back and get it.  If I have a hot flash, I will drink ice cold water and remember that it doesn’t mean I am DYINGGGGGG.

This is already such an incredibly wild ride, but I am strapped in and ready for whatever natural disaster of side effects that may come my way as we start with THREE SHOTS A NIGHT TONIGHT (errrr merrrr gerrrrrrrrrd)  Lucky for me, I have a husband that is both strong and 100% in my corner.

#IVF Strong

P.S.-Chase already at my buzzy…lucky for him it still works…

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IVF · Reality · Shots

Ouch…

Tonight was our third day of stims, or “Jab Time” as we like to call it in the Shanahan household.

I asked Bryan to administer the Gonal first because the Menopure burns and I would rather save the pain for last.  For whatever reason, the Gonal shot was super painful tonight.  Painful on the way in, during, and on the way out.  I am wondering if it was because we chose to administer it on the right side, the side that typically takes the Menopure? Whatever the reason, ouch…

Sad Chimmy and Lady Bug

This is another time I am beyond grateful to have the support of the IVF community.  You will see my new best friend pictured here, my lady buzzer.  This life saver came from a recommendation by my IVF sister Nicole (two mentions!). Buzzy 2 She has ice pack wings, and vibrates when activated (not for that, get your mind out of the gutter).  This little lady took so much of the discomfort away from the Menopure shot tonight.  Tomorrow I will use her for BOTH…lesson learned!

In the interest of full disclosure, I did shed a few tears during Jab Time this evening.  I wasn’t expecting the discomfort with BOTH shots…that really threw me off.  My tears were especially hard for Bryan.  He doesn’t like to see me in pain, and blames himself because he is the one holding the needle.  The truth is, he is doing an amazing job and I am eternally grateful for his constant support and needle sticking.  I would NOT be able to do this to myself.  Actually, yes I would because I a strong woman…but I sure am glad I don’t have to.

Tomorrow we head to the doctor BRIGHT and early for morning monitoring.  This happens every 2-3 days, and you can walk in the office any time between 6-8 am.  Typically I like to get there before 6:30 so that I can get to work on time, but tomorrow is Sunday so we might stretch it to 7-scandalous, I know!  During monitoring I get blood drawn and have an ultrasound to see how everything is going/how my body is reacting to the medicine.  My nurse will call me sometime tomorrow to either adjust the medicine or tell us to keep going as is.  Fingers crossed these follies are growing!

#IVF Strong (even when I cry)

 

IVF · Reality · Shots

Rough start, but here we go!

Today marked our first day of shots, and we are off to a rough start.

After the seemingly never-ending saga with our medication company, everything FINALLY arrived yesterday.  Much to my chagrin, when I got home from work I found the box on the porch open…and soaking wet.

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Now, I should add that I had just finished a pretty taxing day at work where a child threatened me, and told me I was “wasting her lunch hour”.  Finding this package made me see red.  I am pretty sure I texted more than one person saying I was going to “cut a bitch”.  That said, I have to give Freedom some customer service credit here because they immediately sent out a new package of meds which arrived early this morning.

With all of our medication ducks” in a row, here’s how day 1 of IVF went for us…

Up at 5am for blood work and an ultrasound, I happened to have the same doctor who gave the ovaries the all clear on Friday.  Bryan was by my side, as he has been every moment of this fertility journey.  Husbands don’t need to be at every monitoring appointment because it is in and out.  I am always secretly so proud that I have Bryan with me at nearly every monitoring session.  Coffee in hand, he is religiously right outside of the room where they take my blood, and then carries my purse and coat to the room where they perform the ultrasound.  Bryan’s presence makes me feel safe and protected, and we somehow always manage to have a laugh (despite the early morning poking and prodding).  Added bonus: all the ladies at the office love him.

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At work I got the call that everything looked good, and we were set to begin our shots tonight.  MAJOR EEEEKKKKKKK.  I knew this was coming, and I am excited…don’t get me wrong…but EEEEKKKK.  The shots were STARTING.

Here is where things didn’t go as planned.

We found a bedbug in my classroom, and I am now walking around itchy and convinced that every dark speck is a bedbug I have carried home what will infest the house.  This was unwanted and unneeded chaos in my already nervous and cluttered brain.

I didn’t feel ready because I wanted to be super healthy, and today at work I stress ate more than a few gummy candies (that were supposed to be used for STEM projects).

I haven’t been feeling well and because of this fell asleep and didn’t properly prepare our milestone card for the first stim shots.  I also didn’t run/lift/complete my core exercises so I feel doubly unready in the health department.  (you can’t do any of this after you start stim shots)

Bryan arrived home a little later than expected, and the videos took a little longer to watch in order to prepare (mix this, tap this on a hard surface…what?!?) for our first round of shots causing us to fall juuuuust outside of the 7-10pm window we were supposed to inject within.

End of the world?  No.  Stress and anxiety inducing for me?  YOU BETCHA!  It’s a scary process, and I am going to let myself over-think for now.  For now.

As always, I had a vision in my mind of how this first night of shots would carry out.  That vision wasn’t met, because it was unrealistic.  This is REAL LIFE.  So, instead of the picture I had envisioned, where we both had perfectly coiffed hair and rosy red happy “here is our beautiful journey” cheeks we have this…

I kinda love it.

How were the shots?

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The first (Gonal) was fine, I felt nothing.  The second (Menopur) was pretty uncomfortable.  Not sure why or if this is common.  The injection was painless, but the medicine burned quite a bit and for almost 10 minutes.  By the way, the needles pictured are not what we are using right now…I wanted to include this picture for dramatic effect.

Day one in the books.  Now it’s time to sleep.

#IVF Strong

 

 

Fertility Testing · IVF · miscarriage

My Curvy Uterus

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Today I went for my second saline sonogram to check up on my good ol’ curvy uterus.  My first saline sonogram happened about a year ago following the routine HSG (which, ladies, is VERY painful and you should take the day off from work and not drive back to school in the rain and teach all day in Newark!!!!!) which showed some shading.  The initial saline sonogram also showed shading, and so I was sent to a surgeon to get a better look and clear the pipes, so to speak.

When I met with the surgeon (this was a year ago) it was the oddest experience.  He was an older man, extremely nice, but he had this porcelain egg collection in the back of his office. I could NOT stop staring at these eggs…there were hundreds of them. Big eggs, small eggs, eggs of various different colors on the most peculiar little stands.  Who makes those stands??  Is there a market big enough to sustain an entire company in making porcelain egg stands? There can’t be.  Are there people other than this man who collect THIS MANY porcelain eggs?  Lemon nets!

Anywhoo, as I am sitting in the surgeon’s office desperately trying to think of ANYTHING other than porcelain eggs, and who makes their stands the (again) very very nice older man starts drawing uteruses on his little white notepad.  Now…I REALIZE I was in the office of a fertility surgeon, and fertility involves the female organs, but COME ON. There is something SO ODD about a man that could be my grandfather drawing uteruses on paper.  Am I right?  Right?!?

On his little white notepad he showed me all of the possible reasons for the shading that showed up during my HSG and saline sonogram.  Two options I remember were that I had a septum (where parts of you that were supposed to dissolve didn’t dissolve or something like that) or a curvy uterus.  The surgeon was 99% sure I had a septum, and that was something he could correct during surgery.  Added bonus-this would explain why we had suffered so many losses.  The babies wouldn’t have gotten the blood supply they needed to survive and grow.  I was excited.

During the surgery, as it turned out, there was no septum.  The truth was that I had a curvy uterus….and some polyps, which they removed.  For some reason this really bothered me.  I was almost ashamed.  I think it stems back to my constant battle with my weight, and the pressure to be thin and healthy.  The pressure to look and act like what I perceived to be “normal”.  The word curvy really struck a nerve.  Was my uterus FAT?   Great…another part of me that isn’t thin and perfect.  To make matters worse, what I thought would be the answer, the cause of the “repeated losses” turned out to be something that does not impact pregnancy in the slightest.  I was devastated.

Isn’t that sick?  I was devastated that my body didn’t have something TRULY wrong with it that needed to be surgically fixed.  I would rather have had the doctor need to cut apart my body INSIDE my uterus than have the label of a “curvy uterus”.  I understand the urge to want an answer, still to this day I feel that.  However, it makes me sad to look back on the woman who was ashamed of her curves (inside and out).

Fast forward to today, my second saline sonogram.  The doctor gave us the good news that this curvy uterus is healthy, polyp free, and ready to begin the IVF journey.  It’s taken me a while, but I am beginning to love my body-flaws and all.  Through this fertility marathon I am able to see that there is SO MUCH that happens to a woman’s body every single month. What we go through is amazing, and should be celebrated, not hidden in shame.  I guess I have found my silver lining to all of this pain.  Without our struggle, who knows if I would have begun to repair the relationship with myself and my body?

Now, my curvy uterus and I are going to enjoy a lovely meal with the love of our lives.

#IVF Strong

 

 

Insurance Company DRAMA · IVF · miscarriage

I Love/Hate my Insurance Company

 

Bryan (my husband) and I recently switched insurance companies.  The MAJOR plus is that IVF is covered, all that we are responsible for paying for are our office copays (and that pesky $7,700 for genetic testing since we are a “repeated loss” couple….).  For this, I am eternally grateful because I know there are many people who have to pay for everything out of pocket.  For this, I love my insurance company.

Yet in this moment, as I sit here typing, I hate my insurance company.  We used Schraft for our medication during the first IUI and it was a breeze.  The people were friendly, and every time they told us something it was true.  Every single date they gave, whether it was a phone call or shipping, was REAL.  Well, our new insurance won’t go through Schraft.  Ok, not a problem…right?  Wronggggggggg…after being transferred to not one, but two other medication suppliers we finally found the company our insurance will work with.  Freedom Fertility.  That name is a Joke with a capital J.   I haven’t felt less free working with a company in my life, chained to the damn phone trying to get the shots that Bryan will jam into my body parts for the foreseeable future.  Our medication was supposed to be delivered yesterday, but there is no delivery without $ and typically they call the day before delivery to get the copay from you.  Being an eager (and nervous) beaver I decided to be proactive.  I HAVE BEEN CALLING FOR OVER A WEEK.  Every time I get “your order is processing, someone will call you tonight with your copay.”  Liar.  Your pants are on FIRE LIAR LADY!

Today I decided to take no shit, and I told them that I was not hanging up the phone without answers.   Apparently they need to speak to my doctor because my insurance company (who I hate in this moment, have I mentioned that yet?) requires prior authorization, and needs to switch one of the brands of medicine.  After a full week of me calling them, they just called my doctor tonight, at almost 8:00.  Genius.

As if this process isn’t daunting enough.  Let’s make the acquisition of allllll the needles as painful as possible.

I was proud of myself for being firm, and remaining emotionally constant through the entire process.  Then, my husband made me a cup of tea and the string of my teabag fell into the burning hot liquid….and I cried hysterically for 10 minutes.

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#IVF Strong.

IVF · miscarriage

Preparing for IVF

The last time I blogged we were deep into the two week wait after our second IUI.  Much like the first, I got a raging period that made sure I knew I was not pregnant.  I would be lying if I said I wasn’t, once again, devastated.  I really, really thought that I was pregnant.  All signs and symptoms pointed to yes.  Although, maybe I shouldn’t have had such faith in the symptoms since we miscarried every other time I was pregnant (insert hands up emoji).  You tell yourself EVERY time not to get your hopes up!  But…I am human, and I happen to be a human that is FILLED with emotion…sorry Bry Bry 🙂  Soooo I drank A LOT (hey, it was New Year’s!), ate terrible food, and cried when I thought nobody was looking 2-3 times a day.

Now, we are FINALLY starting the IVF process.  We have already met with our specialist for the refresher, signed consent forms that had WAY too much information, paid $7,700 for genetic testing (OUCH!!!), and ordered the medication Bryan will be jamming into my stomach and butt…to be delivered by a pharmacy in a package that is cooled and must IMMEDIATELY be put into the refrigerator. Whew.  Ok.  Interesting note, we gave consent to allow any failed embryos to be tested as part of a study.  It made me feel oddly at peace to click this button, almost like if everything fails again at least medicine, and perhaps some other woman like me struggling to have a baby, will benefit from the duds.

With all the medical mumbo jumbo taken care of, I wanted to make sure my body was uber healthy and ready for this process and started a cleanse.  There is already so much guilt that I carry with respect to our losses, so really I just wanted to make sure I felt that I did everything I could to be in the best health before we started this journey.  I have been using the Arbonne protein power and have tweaked their “30 Days to Healthy” program which I’ve used successfully before.  Basically I have a protein shake for breakfast, fizz stick and healthy snack (almonds, egg whites etc.), shake for lunch, another fizz stick and snack, and then a healthy dinner.  So far I have noticed a huge difference in my energy and overall health.  I don’t feel as sluggish, and honestly it has been easier to eliminate the bad foods and the BOOOOOOOZE.

Now, let’s talk booze.  As I prepare for yet another fertility cycle it gets harder and harder to cut out the drinks.  I don’t fancy myself an alcoholic (although some might disagree-eek!) but I do like the occasional, social drink.  It’s hard to give those things up especially when it begins to feel like it’s for no reason.  Make sense?  Think I am horrible yet??  When I was pregnant, all three times, I gave up drinking no problem…I had a purpose.  Now, it feels like I completely change my life over and over again, and each time I get a big fat NOT PREGNANT slap in the face.  Anywhoo, the cleanse makes it easier because now I am following a program, I am working on a healthier me and booze (pregnant or not) doesn’t fit into that equation.

What’s next on the IVF agenda?  Good question, and to be honest I am not totally sure haha.  I started taking birth control, I forget why.  Something about either controlling the cycle or my uterine lining. There was so much information I couldn’t process it all. That is why I am about to curl up with a sweet loaned gift from my IVF sister Nicole.  Hopefully by tomorrow I will know more about this crazy IVF journey that is our new normal.

 

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Uncategorized

Two Week Wait…

Here we are, in the middle of another two week wait….in the middle of the Holiday season.  I have so many emotions running through me right now.  Two days ago I was sure I was pregnant.  Extreme fatigue, cramping that seemed just right.  Today I am convinced that I am not because I woke up feeling energetic, I have no pain in my breasts, and my cramps feel more like an upcoming period than pregnancy.

The truth is, I have no clue either way.  All I am doing is driving myself crazy by googling every symptom I am feeling until I find something, anything, that proves it is a sign of early pregnancy.

I know my life will still be beautiful if this does not work, but I really hope this works.  With every fiber of my soul I hope this works.  I hope this works for me, for my husband, for our entire family that has been on this crazy fertility journey with us.  I feel responsible of robbing everyone of a child, because it is my body that can’t seem to keep to keep a fetus alive.

I find out Friday.  Until then, I will continue to struggle with keeping the hope alive.

 

 

 

 

miscarriage

Repeated Loss…

Repeated loss…words I never knew held so much pain and anger until that became my very own label.  What a fancy way to tell the world that you cannot seem to keep a pregnancy “viable” (another medical term I have grown to detest).  Hi, I’m Sara, and I suffer from “repeated loss”.  Is this really my life?  If the medical world can call an ice cream headache Sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia couldn’t SOMEONE come up with a more palpable term than repeated loss?!?

As I sit here, it is the anniversary of the day I naturally began to miscarry our third baby, two days before the scheduled (and my second) DNC.  Ironically, today also happens to be the first day of my cycle which is uncharacteristically heavy…I feel like I am being punished.  This was our third baby, and our third loss.

I started this blog today because there are so many emotions running through my mind.  Today I have cried, hysterically, at least ten times.  I have also watched a record 10 episodes of Law and Order: Criminal Intent. Normally I would feel guilty for being so unproductive but today…today I am giving myself permission to GRIEVE.  My poor husband, bless him, asks me how I am feeling and all I can say is “sad”.  How can I possibly sum up what is going on in this crazy body/mind of mine right now?  How can I tell him that every time I go to the bathroom and change my pad (because since the last DNC tampons don’t cut it) I relive that day one year ago (and 1.5 years ago….and 2 years ago…)? It’s like PTSD every time I go to the bathroom.  As if our periods weren’t torture enough, am I right ladies?!?

Anywhoo, I digress…I started this blog because I needed a place to honestly share my feelings and thoughts on living with “repeated loss”, and although I am sure no one will read this, the thought that maybe someone out there might identify with my story and feel some sort of relief in the kinship gives me a ray of hope and a reason.