The Earthquake Is…

July 11, 2012

Over? Still going?

OPKs are the devil. They do not work for me. It’s not the LH surge that makes me ovulate so much as the days on end of detectable LH. Apparently it stops trying to surge and just hangs out. Waiting. Apparently for an earthquake.

And then… maybe I ovulate. Maybe I don’t

The one day I came closest to having a positive OPK apparently did not cause me to ovulate. I present Exhibit 1.

The chart above gave this cycle the nickname ‘The Earthquake Cycle.’ [thank you @DeadCowGirl] I have to admit that I should have known better. That OPK wasn’t TRULY positive. It was almost positive. It was the closest I got to anything resembling positive. But it would seem that ovulation did not occur on the day after that test. Nor on the next day (which was when I thought it happened due to physical symptoms implying mega left ovary activity).

I should have known better. REALLY. In recent months I have not ovulated anywhere near CD14 (although I did for a few months – about 6 months ago). Even medicated, it’s usually more like CD16. But then, things are prone to change in my body – frequently and without prior notice – so my optimism got the better of me. How exactly that happened, I do not understand since I am not an optimist. Not that I’m a pessimist. I call myself a realist.

The glass isn’t half empty. Nor is it half full. It is simply a glass. With some liquid in it. Liquid that occupies roughly half the space within said glass.

But I digress.

I’m not entirely sure if CD1 came or not. I suspect not. I present Exhibit 2.

chart2
Previous cycles have shown me that I usually have a temperature dip just before ovulation. And this chart seems to indicate that my body TRIED to ovulate on CD 15/16. But didn’t quite make it. And again around CD20.

I’ve had anovulatory cycles before. But this was by far the screwiest (if it was indeed anovulatory). I definitely had symptoms – things that usually happen between ovulation and AF’s arrival. The girls swell. I get a little moody. I have cramps. CM changes. All that happened. What didn’t happen? No hunger, no chocolate cravings, no chin acne. Although lack of acne could be due to lack of chocolate.

What I’ve never had happen before, EVER, is random spotting. I’ve always seen the warnings about how when you start a new pill, or any form of birth control, it can cause spotting. I have NEVER had spotting that wasn’t leading up to AF (or trailing her as she left). EVER. Not once.

Until now. Maybe. Unless you want to count 10 days of on and off spotting as AF.

Welcome to the beginning of menopause. Again. What a mind fuck. I’m right back where I was 2 years ago. Except this time I fear I really am getting worse instead of better. But I guess that’s another post.

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Going Rogue

March 25, 2012

Aunt Flo likes to be mysterious. While I was told we shouldn’t TTC [due to uterine weakness] my cycles were 28-34 days long and (more or less) predictable. Literally, the month I was cleared to TTC, my cycle went wonky. And when I say “wonky”… I mean “we have no effing clue.” Actually, that’s not true – I totally have a clue. It’s called menopause. In the years/months leading up to menopause it’s fairly common to have irregular cycles. And hot flashes. This is just a new kind of irregular.

My AMH has bounced from 0.1 to 0.9 and now back down to 0.34. So she’s coming for me – the Menopause. Which I’ve known for some time now. But my body went rogue and defied my doctors and gave me hope. Stupid hope. It’s killing me.

I recently saw my RE for the first time since the last ectopic. The more I replay the visit in my head, the more annoyed I am. When I complained of hot flashes and irregular cycles she said something about that happening in your late 30’s/early 40’s. Um… NO. This STARTED when I was 34. Don’t try and pretend this is normal. This is my new RE and I’m not sure she really understands my full history. I attempted to fill her in.

I asked about IUIs. We’ve never done one. I thought it might be worth trying since my new insurance will apparently cover 3 of them. And we could do monitoring to check which ovary is going to ovulate and only do the IUI if it’s the left one. She said she didn’t see any point in that. She said my best option was IVF. Except… IVF ends with ectopic – at least, it has twice. So…? I’m confused. What am I supposed to do?

I realize my logic may be off, but I’m more comfortable with a more ‘natural’ style pregnancy where the embryo doesn’t get to the uterus until it’s more or less ready to implant. Transferring 3 day old embryos just seems like folly to me (with my history) – it gives them 2-3 days to wander around and find some other place to implant. Is it too much to ask to want to try for that?

I also wanted to investigate surrogacy for the 2 frosties we have. The RE said she’d have a nurse call me with info. That has not happened. And I don’t know where to start. The surrogacy laws are weird in WA. I need help. And I’m not getting it.

In general I’m not happy lately. This is all too much and I feel like I’m alone in it all. My brother keeps going out of town so I don’t have him to lean on for the ‘missing Dad’ stuff. Nor am I getting my fix on playing Auntie to his kids. Right Guy works all the time and when he is home he just annoys me by being the biggest slob known to man and creating more housework for me. The kittehs are being little drama queens. The only person who actually CALLED me on my birthday was Pops’ best friend. I’ve decided to permanently move my birthday because sharing it with my dead father is too painful.

I’m just having trouble seeing the good things right now. I know they’re there, but my glasses are not so rose-colored at the moment. And I’m questioning every aspect of my life right now. I had hoped going back on HRT would make the crazy go away. It’s only been a couple of days but so far the crazy is still here.

I know that logic says I should give up this quest for a biological child and move on to adoption. But I can’t do that. Yet. But I can’t seem to do anything else either. I think I want to try naturally one more month since I have a theory that the new wonky cycles are following a different pattern than what fertility friend tells me. But I doubt Right Guy will go along with it. He sees the logic. He’s done the math. So have I. But numbers just don’t mean anything to me anymore. The odds of having POF? 1%. The odds of having a tubal pregnancy with IVF? 2%. The odds of having a myometrial ectopic? No idea, since it really doesn’t happen to anyone but me. The odds of having two supposedly unrelated ectopic pregnancies back to back? Again, no idea, but presumably <1%. The odds of getting pregnant naturally? 1%.

If all these other really rare things can happen to me, why can't pregnancy be one of them? Why can't I make Going Rogue work FOR me instead of against me?

Here, finally, is third installment of the insanity that has replaced my normal self. It’s been written for 2 weeks but I haven’t had the courage to publish it until now. Catch up on Part One or Part Two if you like.

Medications
This is about my attempt to find a happy chemical balance. And it’s not pretty. There’s been a fair amount of self-medicating going on. I will likely gloss over it a bit so no one tries to lock me up in rehab, but… it’s not pretty. I’m a person who normally doesn’t like to take any kind of medication I don’t absolutely NEED. So this is a somewhat new experience for me.

I asked for anti-depressants fairly early on since I wasn’t eating. But it took some time before I realized I also needed anti-anxiety meds. I self-medicated for that for quite awhile. I had plenty of Rx painkillers from the surgery, ectopic and kidney stone. And let’s just say narcotics dull more than physical pain. No, I’m not addicted, but damn, do they take the edge off. I haven’t taken any for awhile now but I do kind of miss them. It’s the only way I can chill out sometimes. Alcohol works to a point. And then I get depressed and start crying. It just seems impossible to truly relax without medicinal help. A little 420 helps, but then my sinuses get messed up from the smoke.

They’ve switched my anti-depressants from cym.balta to pro.zac. I thought it was helping but maybe not. I’m still up and down. Combine this with all my efforts to find the perfect sleep cocktail and we get to add in some more drugs to the mix. Sometimes I have to take something else to keep me awake. With my current sinus issues that’s mostly just real sud.afed. But I also have a friend who takes ader.ol….

So… I take pills to keep me from being depressed. I take pills to help me sleep when it’s time to sleep. I take pills to keep me awake when it’s time to be awake. I am in constant search of something that will help me relax without knocking me out. I just need to be able to function. To get up and go to work. Or get up and work from home. Be able to enjoy a night out with friends. Obviously I have not admitted to my docs the minor drug infractions I’ve been committing (in the grand scheme of things they are relatively minor – for me personally not so much). But I’ve been honest about not being able to function.

I had thought the end of the ectopic would magically cure me of this. No such luck. Now I just get to worry about Pops and his cancer instead. And the upcoming cross-country move and subsequent job search. Ay-yay-ay. I. Just. Want. To. FUNCTION. I need some chemical balance. I probably need some hormonal balance as well. All signs were pointing to normal cycle on that front but alas, the hunger, acne, hormonal wrath, and cramps are NOT due to ovulation/impending CD1. Now I’m just thinking it’s menopause symptoms. I’m a hormonal wreck lately. And then there’s that pain that I thought was from the ectopic… I guess it’s just adenomyosis pain. Sigh.

My new favorite quote from Legally Blonde: “Elle, I know you’re upset about all this, but can’t you just take a Percocet?” If only. As much as the perc.oset helps… you can’t function (not well, anyway) on it.

Anonymity

July 22, 2010

I was reading someone else’s blog and came across her reasons for starting her blog anonymously. She has since ‘come out of the closet’ and the blog is no longer anonymous. She stated that one of the reasons she started her blog and shared it with real life friends and family so that they would know what she she was going though. That makes sense. But she was protecting her identity and not revealing any identifying info so others – presumably strangers – couldn’t figure out who she is. That struck me as a bit odd. Mostly because that’s not my reason for maintaining my anonymity.

I remain anonymous for different reasons. I don’t share this blog with friends and family. If I did I wouldn’t be able to use it the way I do – as an emotional outlet and a place to vent about people I know IRL. It’s really more of a journal. Which likely means it will never become popular or make it on anyone’s list of Must Read Infertility Blogs. And I’m OK with that. It serves my purposes. It acts as a journal for me and it’s also a way to share my experience with others who may be having similar experiences. Through blogging, and twitter, I’ve discovered other women who are going through the same things. It makes me feel less alone. So maybe this blog can do that for someone else.

As for identifying information… there are about a zillion clues to my real identity contained in this blog (although I suppose you wouldn’t pick up on some of them if you don’t already know me). I don’t work that hard at remaining anonymous. I don’t use real names so that all our identities are somewhat protected (I really don’t want to out Right Guy – that’s not my place and he’s a private person). But if someone were to try and figure out my real name, I don’t think it would be that difficult and I don’t think I’d care that much. I think I’d have more trouble with friends and family reading this blog than ‘strangers’ finding out my real name.
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I wrote those paragraphs a few months ago and have had this post saved as a draft ever since. At the time, I had an original feeling of needing to explain my choice in remaining anonymous. But after some reflection, that feeling passed and just didn’t quite resonate with me. So the post has been sitting in the ether, waiting to be either deleted or expanded. Well, today, after reading Keiko Zoll’s first installment of A Belly Full Of Fire I decided I needed to finally revisit this topic. Because I’m torn.

I would really like to Take The Pledge issued by Resolve. I am open to my friends and family about my infertility (although I can’t say I’ve shouted it from the rooftops). And I have no problem using my real name to advocate for infertility issues. But I DO have a problem with using my real name on this blog. And I feel that if I’m going to do it, I should do it ALL THE WAY. Dilemma.

What to do?

  • I could start another blog/twitter account under my real name and use it for advocacy and this one for venting. But that seems silly. And if I’m going to be a health advocate I would have to do it for not just infertility but also lung cancer and other senior/caregiving issues. And who has the time?
  • I could remain silent but that seems irresponsible. Although, there is also a part of me that feels like I’m too old. I feel like the ladies with POF in their 20s have a much better and bigger soapbox to stand on. I suppose I’m still dealing with feelings of guilt that I simply waited too long. Which is really not rational given that my symptoms, masked for who knows how long by birth control, started at age 34. It is also not rational given that I did TTC with my ex-husband when I was 28. Back then I had endometriosis and it turned out he had an abysmal sperm count. But somehow I still feel ‘judged.’ I still feel like everyone thinks I just put off having kids to further my career or something. And that wasn’t it AT ALL.
  • I could start using my real name on this blog/twitter. SCARY.

I guess I need to deal with all the aforementioned guilt first. Ooh, what fun. ::sigh::
I suspect this guilt runs much deeper than I’m even aware of. Even the name of this blog, Fox In The Henhouse, is a (not so) subtle nod to the guilt I feel that I somehow caused this. Because I am the Fox. So I’m essentially accusing myself of stealing my eggs. Boy, am I a piece of work. 😉 Again, good thing I have a therapy appt in a few hours.

Anyone got any advice on overcoming all this crap and just going public?

Alienation

June 20, 2010

Last night I went out to a party with Right Guy’s work friends. I haven’t been going out much lately and when I have we’ve mostly hung out with my friends and/or mutual friends. Almost all of them know about what’s going on with me and most of them know we’re trying to get pregnant because of it. But his work friends… I doubt it. Unless he’s told them – and why would he? – I’m sure they don’t know a thing about it. Most of that crowd is slightly younger – late 20s & early 30s – and single. The ones who were still at the party at 11pm anyway. Most of the marrieds (with or without kids) had cleared out by the time we got there. Except one couple. And they had their toddler with them. Before you get all outraged that someone had a toddler out at a party at 11pm let me just remind you that this was a party of pediatricians. There were probably about 5 of us there who were not pediatricians. So if they want to keep their toddler out late I’m sure they know what they’re doing.

I hadn’t seen this toddler since he was a breastfeeding baby so I was surprised at how much he’d grown. And of course, those feelings of jealousy started creeping in. And I thought I had them under control. It was just the one couple and one kid. I can handle that, right? Well then I started feeling jealous of all the other women there. They’re all fertile and woe is me, poor little me, I am not. But then it occurred to me [light bulb over my head moment]. They might not be fertile. None of them have kids. Maybe they’re not fertile. People are presumed fertile until proven otherwise. So maybe I wasn’t the lone Infertile in the group. And then it hit me [Wile E Coyote getting hit with a ton of bricks moment]. I wasn’t jealous of them for being fertile. I was jealous of them for being normal and still having more or less flat tummies. It wasn’t the infertility that was making me feeling alone and different. It was the POF (premature ovarian failure, a.k.a early menopause).
Wile E Coyote
I think the odds are decent that someone else at that party will experience some level of infertility at some point. The stats on infertility are like a moving target – I keep seeing different numbers. But 1 in 8 (or 7 or 6) couples experience infertility. And there were certainly enough couples there for those odds. But I think the odds of one of those women going through menopause early are much, much less. 1 in 100 women in their 30s and 1 in 1000 in their 20s. It’s a lot more common than you would think but it’s still a low number. I was feeling alienated because no one else there could know what it’s like. It’s not just the infertility. It’s the feeling old. Feeling like I’m 50 when I’m only 36. Having to worry about osteoperosis. Having to be much more conscious about my health overall. Having that old lady belly fat that is IMPOSSIBLE to get rid of. If my cousin is right, there’s no diet or exercise that will get rid of it. He says I need testosterone for that.

Anyway, what to do about these feelings of isolation? I think that’s what motivated me to tell my friends (and a few coworkers). I hate pretending to feel OK when I don’t. And, although, they can’t relate they can be there for me. So I don’t feel so alone with my close friends. But I feel like a freak and so alone in a crowd of strangers or acquaintances. Last night it had me in the bathroom crying. OK so the alcohol didn’t help. But I’m still trying to figure out how to not feel isolated/alienated/alone when I’m around people who don’t know. If I shout from the rooftops “I have POF!” then I’m just defining myself by that diagnosis. That’s not what I want. I know that’s where I am right now – I’m still struggling to not let this diagnosis define me. I’m sure I’ll get there eventually.

But I’m not sure I’m ever going to not feel alone. 1% of the female population in their 30s. Where are they? I’ve met a few on twitter (actually several of my POF tweeps are in their 20s). And most days, I don’t identify specifically as a POFer but as an IFer and there are a TON of helpful tweeps out there for general infertility support. But I’d like to meet a fellow POFer IRL. I think. There’s a fine line between getting the support I need and letting this define me.

Most people have heard something about the controversy of menopausal women on hormone replacement therapy (HRT). You might have heard that it causes breast cancer. There is research that supports that. There is also research that refutes it. And there is also research which suggests that hormone replacement therapy has NO bad effects if you use the bio-identical hormones instead of synthetic hormones or “natural” hormones from animals. I really don’t know the ins and outs of the research and the science on all that. Here’s what I DO know:

With my condition the health risks are GREATER if I DON’T do HRT. So that’s kind of an easy, no-brainer decision to make. I need the hormones – without out them I am at greater risk for some not so nice conditions – like osteoperosis for example. And heart disease. With the hormones I will almost certainly avoid those conditions and research is, at best, inconclusive about the risks for women my age (those studies were all done on older women with a natural decline in hormones).

The other thing I know is that anything natural is likely preferable to anything synthetic if it’s going in my body. And I’d rather it be a human hormone than a horse hormone even if that’s also “natural” (as opposed to synthetic). Some people say that HRT is the devil even if you use bio-identical hormones. Others, like my cousin, claim that as long as you use bio-identical hormones and keep them in balance then there’s zero risk. Because the hormones are exactly the same your body would make if it still could. There’s a logic in that that I just can’t refute (although I’m not sure about continuing it until I’m 90). Unfortunately science was never my strongest subject and even if it had been the intricacies of how hormones work are quite complex. I just know that it seems logical to me to use bio-identical hormones if they are available.

And so I choose the Vivelle patch for my estrogen instead of Premarin or Prempo. Regular birth control pills are also an option for some women but I still have hot flashes while on BCPs so I need something more. If anyone is nervous about wearing a patch instead of taking a pill I can tell you that, for the most part, it’s super easy. Here are some drawbacks:
– It is a little annoying to remember to change it out every 3-4 days (a daily pill is more easily incorporated in to a schedule).
– Sometimes my skin gets a little irritated if use the same spot too often
In the 4 months I’ve used it it has never come off in the shower. It stays in place and mostly you don’t notice it’s there. It’s clear so it’s not that noticeable to others (it is summer after all and we’re all showing a bit more skin). Although I usually place it somewhere on my back so it’s hidden.

And I choose Prometrium instead of Provera for my progesterone. I think I need to get my doctor to adjust the dosage a bit. The pros and cons of Prometrium are the same for me: It knocks me out. I actually wait until I am in bed to take it because I am completely out within 15 minutes of swallowing that pill. It’s a pro that it helps me sleep (and it’s some GOOD sleep). But it’s a con that I can barely get up the next day. I think a lower dosage will help that.

There is also another benefit to using the bio-identical hormones. If I stop doing fertility treatments and go back on the bio-identical hormones I can still try for a natural pregnancy. The bio-identical hormones will not harm a fetus while the synthetic ones might. Obviously the odds of that happening are much lower and that’s exactly why I’m trying the treatments. But it’s nice to know that it could still happen naturally and none of the drugs would harm the baby.

UPDATE: I just found this link that has an excellent explanation of all the misinformation out there about Bioidentical hormones.
http://www.pyramidpreventativemedicine.com/education.html

I’m not sure if this information will remain at this url for long however so I’m going to also post the full text of it here: Controversies of Hormone Replacement Therapy.

The Future Plan

June 14, 2010

Since the Clomid didn’t work this month I’ve been a bit dismal. I know the jury isn’t quite out on that just yet – there’s still a (slim) chance I might O on my own. The man has not yet counted ten (I love boxing references, can you tell? I used to kick box). And there are other drugs to look at for future cycles. I’ll see the RE on Monday to come up with another plan. But it’s just made me think a lot more about what if this doesn’t work ever? In one sense, I’ve never really believed it would. In another, as I discovered Friday, I had actually allowed myself to hope that it would. I don’t think that I fully realized how much hope I had until it was dashed.

In any case it made me think more. And last night Right Guy and I discussed our options. Some time ago I attempted to give him an “out” since I am “broken.” He chose not to take it. He’s open to other options. Which is more than I can say for the ex-Hubby. But throughout our conversation last evening it became clear to me that when it comes to adoption (or donor eggs) he prefers to know the child’s history. Presumably the medical history. He is an MD after all. So it looks like if we can’t have our own, we either go for a known egg donor or an open adoption.

I think we are both OK with both options. I think being open is almost better because the child is almost certainly going to want to seek out biological parents at some point so why not make it open? When it comes to donor eggs, however, it is a bit of a tricky situation if the donor is known to you. That’s just a HUGE deal. I don’t have sisters, so that’s out. But I do have a friend who has offered her eggs to me. They are drunken offers, however. How serious is she? I guess I’ll find out. I may have a second offer as well – she’s thinking it over without me asking her. I have such GREAT friends. These two in particular are both women who do not want kids. They really like other people’s kids but they don’t want their own. Or rather, they don’t want to RAISE their own. So… we’ll see.

Since I’m a list maker and a planner, just having this conversation and better defining Plans B & C makes me feel better. And right now that’s really all that is important.