Wednesday, December 31, 2008

All I Wanted for Christmas was a Positive Pregnancy Test...

...and all I got was my period. On Christmas morning.

Obviously, DH and I were pretty crushed.

Still, we had a lovely time visiting family and friends. We had to endure a couple of Christmas parties stuffed with pregnant ladies and toddlers but all in all we were able to enjoy ourselves.

I'm writing all this on New Year's Eve and I am trying to look back and be grateful for all the good things that happened this year. For example, going through all this has made DH and I appreciate each other so much more.

In all honesty though, I pretty much want to tell 2008 to "Suck it." 2008 was a horrible, crappy year in which I think I have cried more than I have in my whole life put together before finding out I am infertile. We're going to get out of this hole one way or another, I just hope that it happens somehow someway sometime during 2009. I really do not want another period on Christmas (this year makes two in a row!). So here's hoping that 2009 is a better year for me and for everybody else out there in infertility purgatory!

Another Round of Bargaining

When I wasn't at Dr. G's office getting catheterized I was at home trying to Martha Stewart myself into motherhood. At some point right before Thanksgiving I decided to do a "Crafty Christmas" and make all our gifts from scratch. We have a pretty big extended family so that is no small feat. A friend of mine from work was similarly inclined and so we had a good time talking about knitting and sewing machines and so on. At some point, what started out as a few pairs of mittens and table runners turned into an absolute obsession complete with spreadsheets and plans to hand make everything right down to the gift wrap. I was going to be so organized that the day before we left town I would have everything wrapped and packed and would spend the day soaking in the tub and painting my toenails. Part of me knew that I was trying to prove to the universe what a good, resourceful, and organized mother I could be. However, since I truly like making things I figured it was a good distraction from the fact that I may never be able to eat another grapefruit for as long as I live.

Here is what actually happened the day before we left town. Instead of soaking in the tub and admiring my beautifully wrapped presents and neatly packed suitcases, I found myself in a messy house with thread and fabric scraps all over the floor, several knitted mittens with no mates, foul smelling homemade bath salts, a pile of dirty laundry, and empty suitcases. DH was working at home for the day thanks to a well-timed blizzard so he got to bear the brunt of my insanity. In a fit of frantic vacuuming I blew a fuse, assumed the vacuum broke, and promptly threw a fit. I started flipping out about the mess and listing all the things that needed finishing and then topped it off by screaming "and...and...AND-THERE-IS-AN-ICE-CREAM-MAKER-ON-MY-COFFEE-TABLE!!!" The ice cream maker was a gift from my mother that was on the coffee table until I could find a place for it in the kitchen. At this point DH asked, "Did you forget your medicine today?" And then I went in the bathroom and hyperventilated until DH came in and found me sobbing, "I can make mittens but I can't make a baby."

Bargaining sneaks up on you when you least expect it.

After I got all the crazies out I was able to settle down and have a pretty nice Christmas. I knit for the entire 13 hour drive to DH's parents' house so I was able to finish almost everything. What I didn't finish we substituted for with store bought gifts (gasp!). Since I had finally accepted that the Universe doesn't hand out pregnancies based on crafting ability I was OK with that.

I Get a Second Job as a Professional Patient

I had my cystoscopy on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. I had my period, of course, just to make it even more uncomfortable.

Before the cystoscopy they did another test that I can't remember the name of - I just know it had "dynamics" or "capacity" or something like that in the title. A nurse put a catheter in and then I had to stand up while she proceeded to fill my bladder fuller and fuller to see how much I can hold and for how long. I'm not sure exactly what it was that caused it but I started to faint. The catheter was excruciating - so it might have been pain that caused it, or it might have been the sensation. I was so out of it I really don't know. Anyway, when I started to pass out she pulled out the catheter in a hurry and I was supposed to pee in this bucket attached to the bed. I couldn't really sit up or see or control my bladder and so I just peed EVERYWHERE. I'm sorry to say that at this point I'm not even embarrassed by that anymore. And apparently people pee on the floor all the time at the Urogynecologist so I wasn't the first one or anything.

After I fainted they called DH and he came and sat with me during the cystoscopy. He is so brave and I am so thankful that he is willing to hold my hand through all this. Dr. G was really careful to make the cystoscopy as comfortable as possible. It took 3 applications of numbing gel to get the camera in and then he numbed me up afterwards so it wouldn't hurt so bad when I got home. The cystoscopy showed that I have super-duper inflammation of the urethra and what looks like interstitial cystitis as well. Since nobody can find any bacteria that would be responsible for all this inflammation it looks like an autoimmune issue. (On a side note - the same can be said for my endometrial inflammation - nobody can find any bacteria there either.)

The good news is that now that I've been diagnosed with interstitial cystitis I can start getting better. Also, I'm really starting to think that my infertility is caused by inflammation/autoimmune issues. I'm hoping that if I can gather enough proof of inflammation in various parts of my body SOMEDAY I will find an RE who acknowledges this is a problem and will know what to do. We already know I have autoimmune issues - I've been diagnosed with Behcet's Disease - but since I haven't had a flare up in several years none of my current doctors, rheumatologist included - think that it could have anything to do with my infertility. Still - my gut just tells me that the Behcet's, endometriosis, and interstitial cystitis are all related somehow.

Now for the bad news about interstitial cystitis. Treatment totally sucks. For the entire month of December I was at Dr. G's office every day except Thursdays. Marathon appointments with the RE suck too, I know, but at least those might have a baby at the end of them. Anyway, on Tuesdays and Fridays I had my usual appointments with the Vagina Fairy. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I had bladder instillations. A bladder instillation involves getting catheterized (whoo-hoo!) so that medication can be put directly into your bladder. As it turns out, my urethra is really really tiny and really really pissed off and that makes me really hard to catheterize. The first few times it took nearly an hour and lots and lots of numbing gel to get the catheter in. Once, they got it in just to find out it was a bad catheter (all the medicine shot back in the nurse's face) and they had to start all over again with a new catheter. Another time the catheter accidentally went into my vagina and when I stood up all the medicine came whooshing out on the floor and we had to start all over again AGAIN! The good news is that the nurse and I are pretty much best friends now and we had a good chuckle over each disaster. The best news is that the instillations really work! By the last one we hardly needed any numbing gel and I was hardly in any pain! I really hope the effects last!

The other crappy thing about interstitial cystitis is that the flare-ups are affected by your diet. Unless you want to pee what feels like liquid fire you pretty much can't eat or drink anything good for the rest of your life. I have this little card to keep in my wallet that unfolds into a chart about as big as my dining room table and lists all the things I can no longer have. The only things I am allowed to drink now are water and decaf herbal tea. I can only eat bland, spiceless food like white rice and potatoes. The hardest part is giving up fresh fruits and veggies. I live for fresh fruits and the only ones I can have now are pears and blueberries.

Once I started the diet I felt a lot better. Since I was hoping that it was only necessary temporarily I let myself slip a bit over the holidays. At first I thought I was getting away with it but now its starting to catch up with me. I'm pretty bummed. Life without clementines seems pretty bleak sometimes.

Well. That's the medical news from December. Maybe a little later I'll share the news from the psychological front.


Wow. I'm kind of embarrassed to admit that I didn't realize how long it had been since my last post. I've been thinking about what to write but I just haven't really had the time or energy to sit down and do it until today. Thank you Thalia for giving me the prompting I needed!

So, let me fill you in on the dizzying blur otherwise known as the Holiday Season. I figure I'll break this into a couple of separate posts to keep it from being too lengthy.

I survived Thanksgiving at my Grandma's. I had to retreat to my room and cry a couple of times but it wasn't nearly as bad as I was afraid it would be. Oddly enough it wasn't my cousin's baby that caused the worst of the tears (although I was kind of afraid to hold her for more than a few seconds), it was hearing about new pregnancies. The real kicker was hearing about an older couple with nearly grown children that accidentally got pregnant the night before a vasectomy. I know for normal people this qualifies as a cute and funny story. For DH and I it was like getting kicked in the teeth. At this point, pregnancy seems almost supernatural to us. I just can't imagine what kind of superpowers people must have to get pregnant by accident when we have been trying so hard for so long and doing everything right. Oh well, what can you do?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lots (and Lots) of Doctor's Appointments

Sorry I haven't written much in awhile. I've been trying to set a new record for the number of doctor's appointments and diagnoses you can pack into one week.

So let's see...

Appointment #1 - Dr. R (Primary Care)
After the week from hell my therapist recommended that I get a prescription for Xanax. Dr R did me one better and prescribed Klonopin and an antidepressant. Yes - I am now "officially" depressed. I'm kind of bummed that IF has driven me to the point where my serotonin levels have tanked out. On the other hand, I am looking forward to feeling a little better. In fact, the looking forward to feeling better has already lifted my spirits.

I found out two interesting things from Dr. R. First, antidepressants do not look good on adoption applications. Dr. R wrote the prescriptions on paper and I paid cash at the pharmacy so that my insurance company won't have a record of it. Second, Dr. R did not have very nice things to say about my old RE and fertility clinic. Hmmm...

Appointments #2 and #4 - The Vagina Fairy (Physical Therapy)
Last Friday I had my physical therapy evaluation for my pelvic floor muscles. It was awesome. My physical therapist is really cheerful and positive and I am going to call her "the vagina fairy" because she is going to cure my pelvic pain in 15-20 sessions! I thought all the pain I was having during exams and treatment was endo pain and that I was just stuck with it for good. Turns out, that pain is from all the exams and treatment. My vagina has the equivalent of a massive tension headache. I also have bursitis in my hips and sciatica from sitting on the floor all day when I'm teaching.

What happens at vagina therapy, you ask? Well first I have to do a lot of pilates-type exercises. Then I get poked/massaged in the vagina for about 10 minutes. This part is a little awkward but the vagina fairy has such a sunny disposition that its really not so bad. Next, the assistant to the vagina fairy comes in and massages my inner things, hamstrings, and butt cheeks. Apparently I have a lot of tension in those areas too. Finally, I get hooked up to a little electrical stimulation machine that zings my lower back muscles and makes me really relaxed. Its all very strange but I am super optimistic that its going to make a huge difference.

Appointment #3 - Dr. B (Ob/Gyn)
esterday I had my first appointment with Dr. B since the PCOS/UTI fiasco. While it looks as though I probably had some anovulatory cycles in the past, for the time being he does not believe I have PCOS. I started BBT charting again this month and when I saw him yesterday on day 19 my chart was picture perfect. So I ovulated this month. Yippee! Too bad we didn't have sex. At all.

Dr. B thinks that maybe nothing is wrong with me after all. The endo isn't blocking my tubes and I'm ovulating now. DH's low morphology seems to have cleared up on its own - or at least we think its cleared up - does anybody know if the number they give you on IUI day takes morphology into account?

We are supposed to continue charting and doing things naturally for two more cycles. After that we go from "nothing wrong" to "unexplained infertility." Dr. B has another RE he'd like to send me to but first he is going to let me try Clomid for a few cycles. I have a feeling that he's going to be scrapping both of those diagnoses in favor of "luteal phase defect." This morning, on day 20, 6 days post ovulation, my perfect BBT chart took a nose dive and I'm guessing that I will start spotting tomorrow morning. I cannot understand how it is humanly possible to get your period on every single holiday of the year. Guess I'll be bringing old towels to sleep on at Grandma's again.

Next week I have a cystoscopy (ouch), two physical therapy sessions, and head-shrinking therapy. I figure I can cancel all my magazine subscriptions because I spend so much time in doctor's office waiting rooms. But the good news is that I'm feeling better both physically and mentally and I'm pretty sure that I will make it through Thanksgiving intact. I'm even looking forward (tentatively) to seeing my cousin's new baby!

I probably won't have access to a computer for awhile, but I'll be looking forward to getting back online ASAP.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Last week sucked. Big time. I am not proud to say it but I was a dreadful teacher last week. I didn't murder any of my students but I was definitely not all sunshine and sweetness. I really haven't let my infertility come to work with me before, but having a beaming pregnant lady next door made it hard to keep my composure.

I delivered my letter to my friend on Wednesday. I got a card back from her on Thursday. The note inside was nice but it did not make me feel much better. I wasn't really expecting it to. I only saw her once last week - she was coming out of the bathroom (those damn pregnant ladies - rubbing it in by peeing all the time!) and she said hello. At least she is giving me the space I need. I hope this gets easier soon because I really do miss her.

After a week of watching me cry myself senseless, DH decided it was time for a weekend getaway. He splurged and got us a fancy hotel room in a charming little town in the western part of the state. It was only a two hour drive but it felt as different as if we'd been on the moon. There were beautiful rolling hills and farmhouses and cows and every second of it was just so wonderful. I actually felt like myself for the first time in months. I really had forgotten who I am and it was so nice to laugh again and enjoy spending time with my husband.

While we were gone we came up with a plan. After the school year is over we are dedicating ourselves 100% to infertility. That means we get whatever jobs we need to get in order to have the right insurance. If we get pregnant, great. If we don't, then we are going to sell everything we have and leave the country. Since we're getting hosed on the parenthood front we've decided not to let any of our other dreams fall by the wayside. We've always talked about joining the Peace Corps so maybe we'll do that.

As it turns out its a very good thing that I'm not too attached to my job. Apparently my boss is freaking out now that my friend is pregnant. We had a sub lined up to cover my maternity leave should I ever need to take it but now she is going to cover my friend's leave. My boss seems to think that hell might freeze over and that I might get pregnant too, requiring two leaves back to back. She has started hinting that my contract might not be renewed if I'm not willing to agree to stop trying for a few years so that parents won't be upset by all the turnover. Last year when this happened I was very upset about it. This year I really could care less.

And now I must go. DH is home and I am determined to be a good wife this week.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Quick Note Before I Start My Therapy Homework

Just got back from therapy. I have "homework" that is going to be pretty time consuming and emotionally draining so I'm afraid I'll have to rip myself away from the computer for the rest of the evening. I was hoping to spend tonight visiting more blogs and trying to spruce up this page with links but I think it will have to wait until tomorrow.

Today turned out to be harder than yesterday. I woke up to a radio commercial about the local birthing center. The alarm clock got a well deserved thrashing. And then at work - more pregnant people! A little girl in my class gave me the "mommy has a baby in her tummy" news. I'm not friends with her mother so its not a huge deal - just proof that this follows me everywhere.

I couldn't bring myself to talk to or even make eye contact with my friend today. Its very obvious that I'm avoiding her and I know she thinks I am angry with her. Well, I am angry at her. Irrational anger, yes, but I'm rolling with it right now because the alternative is uncontrollable sobbing and I just cannot take the chance that I might lose it in a room full of small children. So I am doing the best I can in the present moment but I am not at all proud of the way I am dealing with this. It might take a week or two but I am determined to summon the courage to get through this gracefully and compassionately.

So therapy rocked my world. And I have homework tonight. Here it is:

1. Write that letter to my friend explaining that I'm avoiding her out of self-preservation.
2. Spend some quality time with DH.
3. Find a hobby.
4. Get some Xanax.

Yes, Xanax. I'm not sure how I feel about that one. Don't get me wrong - I would love to get all sleepy and drooly and obliterate huge chunks of short term memory. I'm just afraid that it would be addictive. I took Klonopin during an especially tough week in college when my parents were divorcing. A few weeks later I started getting term papers back that I had no recollection of researching or writing. I went to movies that I couldn't tell you the first thing about. Wiping this week from my mind is way too tempting. Of course, now that I have this blog I could just come back here and relive the suckiness whenever I wanted to. And I wouldn't have to worry about renting the same movie twice.

Oh well. I'll have a little while to decide about the Xanax. In the meantime I am putting off writing this letter.

Thanks for all your support in the last few days. I'm looking forward to returning the favor. Of course I wish none of you were suffering with infertility, but boy do I appreciate the company!