Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Acupuncture? Okay, I'll try it...

Throughout this journey, I have done probably millions (slight exaggeration) of hours of research online. I've tried almost everything- drinking cough syrup, vitamins, eating pineapple core, not drinking alcohol or coffee, relaxing, working out, not working out, grapefruit juice... I've seriously tried a lot of stuff. But one thing that kept coming up in my research was acupuncture. To be honest, every time I read about it, I thought to myself "oh, I'll never have to get to that point." Well, here I am. So after checking with my insurance to see if they cover it, I decided to try it out. (Note- my insurance only covers a portion of it after I have met my deductible, but thankfully due to all the doctor's visits and testing, we have met it for the year.)

My RE referred me to a fertility acupuncturist, and my first appointment was two weeks ago. I was really nervous! The acupuncturist first off asked to look at my tongue (weird). She immediately told me I needed to change my diet. No more cheese, ice cream, red meat, caffeine, alcohol... all the good stuff. She said that my tongue indicated I had a very acidic pH level, and that is not a good thing. Her theory was that the high acidic pH level can cause your body to attack anything foreign (i.e. a baby), which could be the cause of the very early losses we have experienced. Do I buy into that? I am not really sure. But I can say that I do eat horrible and it's worth a shot to make the change, so I immediately started on the new diet, for the most part. I still have coffee when I need it, and wine also. And added bonus, in 1.5 weeks, I have lost 5 lbs. Yay! Anyway, she did the acupuncture and it was not bad at all. It was actually quite relaxing! When I went back for week two, she asked to look at my tongue again (weird) and she said that the change in my diet was already helping! I go back for appointment three later this week. I will continue to go weekly until she tells me otherwise. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

More to come...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A little (super long) back story...

I have to start this out by saying Thank You; to all my friends and family who have been here for me/ us through this journey. There is no way I could be here writing about this without your support. I feel like this may be therapeutic in some way. And who knows… maybe you or someone you know is going through the same thing, and it’s always nice to know you aren’t alone… trust me, I know.

A little (super long) back story...
Terry and I decided in September of 2010 that we were ready to start trying for a baby, so after a trip to Mexico for our anniversary, I stopped taking the pill. (Yay!) Months went by, and nothing was happening. For the first 6 months, we didn't really track anything; we just kind of did what we did. Then I decided to get a bit more aggressive, and I bought the ovulation predictors. I was so excited to see the smiley face every month, indicating I was ovulating! But still, nothing happened. So at my yearly doctor appointment in September 2011, I brought it up to my OB. He did some minor blood tests, and they indicated I was ovulating, but not "strong." So he prescribed me Clomid, which is a very common drug for people that are not ovulating. After my first round of clomid, I did a day 21 progesterone blood test to see whether or not I had actually ovulated (technology these days is AMAZING!). The doctors like to see the progesterone level above 10, but really 15 or higher is best. Mine came back at 10.8. So I did ovulate (YAY) but the number still wasn't ideal, and I was pretty skeptical that it had really worked. But 2 weeks later, on a Saturday morning, I wasn't feeling so hot, and I took a pregnancy test. HOLY CRAP! It was positive!!! We were so excited. It finally worked! I thought I would NEVER get to see a positive test! We decided to tell his parents on Sunday, and we would tell my parents that Thursday at a dinner we had already planned. We took pictures of the dogs in a pink and blue shirt that said "I am going to be a big brother/ sister." We gave one to Terry's parents on Sunday. They were so excited, and we couldn't have been happier. That Monday, I went to the doctor to have blood work done to confirm my hormone levels were okay. The results wouldn't be in until the following day, but I didn't care... I was PREGNANT! Monday afternoon, I started to cramp really bad at work. I went to the bathroom, and I had started to bleed. I immediately called my doctor and he told me to go pick up a prescription he had called in (progesterone pills) and to take it easy. But I knew what was happening.  I knew I was going to miscarry.  I was so mad at myself for being so naive...I knew it couldn't have been that easy. Tuesday morning the bleeding continued and I got the results of my blood work. My HCG was 37 (anything above 5 is considered pregnant but the number should have been much higher at that point) and my progesterone was a 7 (it needs to be much higher to support a pregnancy). So it was confirmed: we were losing the "baby". I was devastated. We were devastated. How could it be taken away so quickly? We had just found out, and now we were losing it. Those three days were some of the most emotional days I had experience to that point. It was probably preparing me for the emotional days to come.

After the bleeding stopped, we were told to wait one cycle and we could start trying again. So we waited. Or we tried to anyway. I guess we didn't do a good job, because 4 weeks later, I was feeling awful again. I took another pregnancy test, and HOLY CRAP AGAIN! Positive. OMG. We were much more cautious in being excited until we got blood work done. But I was much sicker this time around, so we were both convinced this was a good one and it was going to stick. Blood work confirmed that I was indeed pregnant, with an HCG of 306 (WHOA!), but a progesterone level of 7.3. I started on progesterone supplements immediately, and two days later went back for the second round of blood work. They want to see the HCG numbers double every 48 hours, so I knew what my number needed to be. Well, my HCG had dropped to 265, therefore we were going to miscarry... again. How could this happen twice in a row? Why? We were devastated... again. I started bleeding about 3 days later, and again, we were told to wait one cycle before trying again, and this time, we listened.

After we were cleared to go for it (January 2012), I did another round of clomid. My day 21 progesterone check came  back at 26.8, which is a great number! I just knew this was going to be it. They had me start on progesterone supplements a few days after ovulation, just in case. But two weeks later, my pregnancy tests were all negative, and I finally started. Another failed cycle. I was so upset. I called my OB and told them that I was tired of being reactive, and wanted to be proactive. He referred me to a reproductive endocrinologist (RE). I made an appointment for the beginning of March. We decided to try clomid again while waiting to get into the RE, and I just knew I was going to be one of those people that was referred to an RE, but showed up there for my first visit and they say "surprise, you're pregnant!" That seems to always be the case... that is, for everyone else. That didn't happen for me. I did not get pregnant that round either.

My first appointment with the RE was so nerve wracking. I was so embarrassed to have to be there in that fertility clinic. (Warning- slight side track...)There are so many emotions you go through when you are experiencing this. It's even harder when all of your friends are getting pregnant, some were trying, and some weren't. You go to baby showers and have to pretend that you aren't crumbling inside because you can't have what they have. You might even go off to the bathroom to cry. You go to friendly get togethers and all anyone talks about is their kids, or the baby in their belly, or the cute thing that their baby did. I LOVE to hear these stories- don't get me wrong- but there is a point in a journey like this where you break, and it suddenly doesn't matter anymore who you are talking to, you just want to curl up in a ball and cry. I find myself mad at people at the grocery store that are shopping with their babies and kids, or when I see cars driving down the street with a car seat in the back, I start to wonder if that will ever be me. I know these all sound so silly to most people, but anyone that has been through this will understand. So friends- please forgive me if you have ever felt that I don't care- it is 100% not that, it's just that it's a hard place for me to be in. But just know that I try really hard to let those feelings go. And I would never want anyone to hide something from me for fear they may hurt my feelings. Anyway, back to my first RE appointment. They ordered a fertility workup (blood work) and told me about a few tests they were going to run. Throughout that next month, I had 13 tubes of blood taken, and a couple of tests done (including a sonohist to make sure nothing was wrong on my insides). Everything came back perfect. WTH? Then why has this been so hard?! I also did clomid again, but they upped my dosage. That cycle failed as well. But I was much more optimistic, because our RE was great, and he had a plan for us. And I like plans. ;)

The next month we did another round of clomid, and upped the dosage again. With an RE, they monitor you via sonogram to see what your follicles are doing.  I had a great response to the clomid this time- 2 large follicles! They gave me a trigger shot (which forces you to ovulate all mature follicles- so this time, 2!!). We went in 2 weeks later for blood work, and my HCG came back at a 7 (remember, above 5 is pregnant, but 7 is VERY low). I had to go back two days later for the follow up blood work, and it had dropped to 0. So now our third lost pregnancy. We were devastated... and frustrated, and sad, and mad... every emotion you can imagine. Mother's Day was coming up, which I was dreading. Of course I am so thankful for my Mom and all the Mothers in my life, but Mother's Day was just a blatant reminder that I was NOT a mother. And at this point, who knows if I will be. Is it in God's plan for us? We don't know. And that made Mother's Day even harder.
We decided to try clomid one more time. This time, I didn't respond at all. WTH. I had no growth of any follicles, and we had to cancel the cycle (meaning stop all treatments and wait until next cycle). Frustrated once again. Our RE decided it was time to move on to injectibles. I was VERY excited about this, because I knew that this was much more aggressive and I just knew that it would work. Despite a small cyst on my right ovary, I started the shots, but the sonogram revealed I did not respond. In fact, it appeared that the cyst was drinking up all the injections and not sharing with the follicles. So we had to cancel. Again. They gave me provera to start my period and that gets us almost to the present. We were supposed to be changing up my injections a little bit this round to Follistim (which is what I did last month) and adding Lupron to the mix. The problem with this protocol is you can produce too many eggs, but we will cross that bridge when we get there, which won't be this month either. A sonogram last week detected another cyst, and due to what happened last month, RE won't let us move forward with treatment this month. I am thankful for that, because I KNOW it's best, but it's so hard to be patient. Good news is we can try naturally this month, and they will monitor me via sonogram for activity. I am (of course) discouraged about this because I never really ovulated on my own before, but we will just have to see what happens.

I know that there are couples that have been doing this for so much longer than we have, and I truly feel for them. I pray every night for families going through this. The one thing that has kept us strong is our faith in God, and knowing that we can never, ever, ever give up. And we won't. 

More to come later.