Monday, February 22, 2010

Slow Week

A friend of mine told me last week that I seem to update on Monday evenings.  I didn't really realize that, but it seemed like as good of a reason as any to start updating on Monday evenings when I'm having slow weeks. 

So, this post is just to say that it's a slow week.  I'm anticipating doing the second IUI on this next Sunday or Monday. 

I'm supposed to be following some dietary restrictions and lifestyle changes and for the most part I am.  I'm not supposed to drink excessive alcohol (I don't) and I have to check but I think I'm not supposed to take baths.  That's starting to be really annoying, so I'm hoping that if I check my paperwork again it will not say that.  Maybe I just read it on the internet.

I'll let you know how that goes.  If I tell you now whether or not I can officially take baths, I won't have anything to say next Monday.  I hope you can all concentrate on your other life events with that teaser hanging over your heads.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

As Expected

Every month when I find out that I'm definitely not pregnant, I just say I flunked. I flunked again this month, as expected.

To be honest, I really, really don't think IUI works much better than no intervention at all (especially without medications - but I don't want the medications either).  That said, it's a lot cheaper than IVF and just in case it does work it seems like it's worth a try. Since Mark's numbers were up this past month, we'll do another IUI round this month and then evaluate whether to do a third and then a fourth.

I'm getting better about not buying ten zillion pregnancy test kits and starting to test a week and a half before anything could even show up.  I only went through three tests this cycle.  Believe it or not, that's a huge, huge improvement!!

Speaking of money, we've just received our first official bills so now I can really break it out.  Here's how it looks so far for one round of IUI:

Initial Visit with Dr. Sparrow: $280.00
Bloodwork for Me: $23.29 (insurance actually covered a lot of the bloodwork costs)
IUI: $175.00
Semen Analysis: $100.00
Sperm Wash: $225.00
Total:  $803.29

Adds up quickly, doesn't it?  The next round won't be as expensive since we won't need bloodwork, an initial visit, or the analysis. Just the IUI and the wash. 

So far this process isn't all that stressful. It's pretty sobering to think that we just spent $800 for essentially nothing.  Also, now that I've been through the IUI once, the novelty of having the new experience is definitely wearing off and it sounds more like a tedious errand to me than anything exciting, probably also because I have absolutely no confidence that it's going to work.  When we get to the IVF part (assuming we do) I think I'll be a lot more excited because I think the statistics for IVF are so much better for us.

Monday, February 8, 2010

For those who wonder...

I am getting close to five days post-IUI and I don't feel pregnant in the least.  Not a single symptom.

I don't think most women do get symptoms this early, but if you do a search on google of pretty much any physical malady followed by "early pregnancy symptom" you'll come up with a ton of links.  Seriously.  Try it.

So, I don't expect that I should be getting any pregnancy symptoms, and I'm not getting any.  Whether that's because I'm just not pregnant or if it's because it's too early for symptoms remains to be seen.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A couple things I forgot to mention...

I forgot to mention that I was able to go straight back to work with no problems whatsoever as soon as I was done at the clinic.  In fact, it was like it had never happened.  I felt maybe a tiny bit different inside, but that might have been because I had KFC for lunch. Similarly, I'm feeling a little bit weird on my left side tonight, but it could be just ovulation or it could be something I ate.  Hard to say.

Also, we've got an update on expenditures:

Clearblue Easy OPK -      $29
Sperm Wash -                  $225
IUI -                                 $175
Current Total:                 $429

First IUI

I left that last post at 12:45 in the morning, so I think everyone was thinking that the first IUI is scheduled for Friday, but it actually took place today.

I was half-right about the procedure starting later than 8:30. They had me wait until 8:45 and then brought me into the exam room and had me wait another five minutes.  So, they started before 9:00, but not much!  It was okay though - it went really quickly so everything worked out.

Mark went to work very early this morning in order to get through a lot of his work before rounds started at 7:30. He left work and went to the clinic at 7:00 am to give his sample. Then, he dashed back to work in time to start rounds with his team.

After he left the clinic, the lab took his sperm sample and put it through a wash.  They put the sperm in a container that I imagine as a cylinder.  The container has a few filters in it along with some kind of liquid.  The sperm are inserted in the bottom and they have to try to swim to the top, through all of the filters.  Sperm with no tails don't make it. Sperm with large heads don't make it.  Slow, lazy sperm don't make it. They started with 23 million sperm and after the wash they had 7.5 million left.  Those 7.5 million were put into a little syringe.

I showed up just before 9:00. I was shown into a regular exam room, just like you would go to for an annual exam.  The procedure was done by a physician's assistant who came into the room and explained everything before she began. She showed me the syringe and it appeared to be connected to a catheter that I couldn't see because it was still wrapped in a bag - from what I could tell it was pretty long, but very thin.

The procedure started out just like an annual exam, with the speculum. She checked my cervix to make sure it was all healthy and ready for ovulation. After she determined it was, she inserted the catheter. I could tell when she had inserted it, I could sort of feel it moving up inside me. She then injected the sperm using the syringe/catheter.  Around this time she told me the sperm were going in, but I couldn't tell a difference from just the catheter.  I started feeling a little crampy, but nothing terrible.  Then she just pulled it out and the procedure was over. The whole thing probably took less than five minutes once she started.

At this point, she told me to just lay there for 15 minutes and give the little guys a running start.  So, I grabbed my iPhone and looked up my horoscope.  It was this:

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22). You just got home, so you're not anticipating another trip. But you might have to adjust your activity forecast when an interesting invitation arrives. When have you ever turned down a new adventure?

Tomorrow - First IUI

Day 2 and 3 of the ovulation predictor kit were much more successful than day 1.  Today the test indicated that I have a surge in my luteinizing hormone and am therefore about to ovulate.  To explain that more fully, when your egg is developing each month it is held in a protective follicle. As the follicle matures, your estrogen level rises. Once your estrogen level has risen to a certain point, it triggers a surge in your luteinizing hormone. That prepares the follicle for ovulation (the release of the egg) and conversion of the follicle into a corpus luteum.  This conversion takes place while the egg is traveling down the fallopian tube in search of a willing sperm. If the egg is fertilized, then the corpus luteum secretes progesterone which helps thicken the lining of the uterus to assist in implantation of the egg.

So.  Today my body had the surge in the luteinizing hormone and an egg should be released in less than 24-48 hours.  This is where the scrambling comes in. After receiving the test result, I called Joy and she said we have to go in tomorrow for the IUI.  Mark has to give a sample tomorrow morning at 7:00 am, and I'm supposed to go have the insemination done at 8:30.  Officially they don't do inseminations until 9:00 am, but I've begged them to let me in early because I have a meeting at work that I do not want to miss for one of my youth clients (it's already been rescheduled once.)  They say they'll let me in, but they sound very dubious, so I have the feeling they're going to let me in to sit in the waiting room until 9:00.  All I can do is try, I suppose.

I'll post tomorrow about the whole experience.

Monday, February 1, 2010

New Characters and Little Blue Lines

First - I've named some new characters:
Dr. Sparrow - my reproductive endocrinologist
Joy - his medical assistant

The first step in doing one IUI cycle for us is to monitor this month's ovulation. I've been monitoring my ovulation cycle for seven months using a ridiculously expensive (yet pretty darn accurate) fertility monitor.  Unfortunately, Dr. Sparrow prefers to have his patients use Clearblue Easy Ovulation Predictor Kits.  I was given instructions to use the first test on day 10 of my cycle, and today is day 10.

Most of the kits tell you to use the test first thing in the morning.  However, Dr. Sparrow prefers his patients to use the tests on the second trip to the powder room of the morning (can everyone tell I'm trying to be as delicate as possible about this? Is it actually making it worse?!)  Dr. Sparrow's method means that I actually have to take a test to work with me and try to take it in the bathroom with no one noticing.

So, at about 10:00 this morning, I used the trick one of my high school friends taught me for sneaking to the bathroom with a tampon - pay attention all you riveted teenagers - I slipped the test stick up my sleeve and held it in place by just holding the sleeve next to my wrist with my fingertips and then casually sauntered to the restroom.

After doing what I had to do to take the test, I looked at the results window.  I was supposed to be able to see at least a control line to show me the test was working. And then, there was supposed to be another line and if it was lighter than the control line I was not ovulating. If it was darker, I was ovulating.  It wasn't there.  No line. No control line.  Blank.
So I waited.  I waited for several minutes.  Blank.  Maybe a little smudge of blue, but really no line at all. Then, horror of horrors, one of my co-workers walked into the bathroom.

I was standing in the stall doing nothing at all and was certain my co-worker was going to notice. I don't know why that matters, but it does. It also matters that I had no desire to be caught with an ovulation predictor kit test stick at work. So as soon as she closed the door to her stall, I grabbed the stick and zoomed out to the sink to wash my hands. I tossed a paper towel on the counter, then the stick, and then another paper towel on top to cover it up (because *that* won't look suspicious).  The girl apparently really didn't need to go to the bathroom at all, because before I could even finish washing my hands at hyper-speed, she was out and fixing her hair at the mirror - with my stick sitting on the counter between us covered up by a measly paper towel. We did the obligatory greetings and I carefully watched for her to have a convenient difficult-hair-adjustment moment. She finally started working on putting a clip in to pull her hair up and I quietly slid the paper-towel-and-stick package off of the counter while she focused on shoving a bunch of hair in the clip.  I then found myself walking down the hall back to my office with this strange package in my hand.

Once back at my desk, I peered at the stick again. Nothing. A blue smear in one corner.  I tossed the stick in a desk drawer and decided to just focus on work for a while.  About an hour later, I looked again - two lines. Both blurry. Was the left line darker than the right? Couldn't tell. Were they the same? Not sure. They were both kind of just smeared lines.

I called Joy.

Joy suggested that I go in and do an ultrasound. This sounded like a silly idea to me.  After all, we aren't expecting this cycle to work at all. Going in to do an ultrasound would set us back several hundred dollars in addition to the cost for the IUI itself.  I am not excited about spending $1,000 on a useless cycle.  I called Joy back and she agreed with me that the ultrasound wouldn't make sense.  Instead, she instructed me to try the stick test again tomorrow.

At work.

Total Costs Thus Far:
$29 - One box of Clearblue Easy Ovulation Predictor Kit Tests