Tag Archives: #infertilityexhaustion

Today I Did My Hair

What a couple of weeks it has been.  I feel like I am living in bizarro-land.  There has been so much happening but I have not had the capacity to write the past several days.

In short, I was in the hospital two days getting two Albumin transfusions and left Sunday feeling a bit better and better able to eat and drink on my own, my Albumin (protein) levels just below normal range but high enough to give my doctor satisfaction.  By Monday I was again very full in the abdomen and still fighting the nausea and pain.  I also awoke that morning with some new symptoms, in particular swelling in other areas of my body.  I went in to my RE in hopes of another tap but the ultrasound indicated that a tap actually would not be able to drain much fluid because the fluid had now begun to spread throughout my body — stage two of OHSS.

Over the course of the next four days I gained 15+ pounds of fluid throughout my body, putting the total fluid weight gain at 25 pounds in about a week.  My clothes do not fit, fluid on my spine makes it painful to rest on my back, my feet and toes are swollen to the point of numbness and tingling, and all of that adds up to a good bit of difficulty walking and getting around.  The rest of the week involved more IV fluids at my RE’s office, an ER visit to ensure I didn’t have a blood clot because of asymmetrical swelling in my legs, and, finally, an appointment with my RE on Friday where we finally saw my kidney function improving.

While those symptoms I just mentioned are still true today, I also am beginning to notice some improvements.  Late last week I began peeing normally (sorry if too much information), indicating that new fluids entering my body were being processed by my kidneys.  Now it is a matter of the fluids stored up from the past two weeks getting pushed to them and peed out — that’s right, we’re looking at peeing out 25 pounds worth of fluids over the next week.  This process, thankfully, has already begun and I’m down about 4-5 pounds.

Let me be clear about this: I do not care about the weight.  What I care about is the extreme discomfort and how I can’t get around so well.  Percocet and anti-nausea meds have been my friend the past week and are helping to relieve enough of the pain to be able to eat and get up and around for a bit at a time.

Perhaps more importantly, let me be clear about this: I am so grateful for this pregnancy and I am not complaining in that regard.  I am so so grateful.  And this pregnancy, to potentially have a baby at the end of this, is worth every ounce of discomfort.

Last Sunday when we were discharged my RE’s partner, who was on call and making rounds, let me know that OHSS typically lasts nine days in women who are not pregnant and 21 days in women who are.  At that point, about 11 days in, I could not imagine being able to tolerate another ten but getting these slowly-increasing Betas certainly has pushed me on and makes it all worth the while.  In fact, my RE told me about my first Beta on the Thursday before we were supposed to find out.  She called to let me know some of my other, worrisome numbers and to have me come in for fluids, labs, etc. but then said she also had good news, that she had run an HCG the day before (1 week post transfer) and my Beta was 51.  I of course was shocked but this news buoyed me, helped me to push through the pain, to continue to force feed and hydrate myself despite feeling as though there was zero room for anything else in this body, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was an intentional move on her part.

I can’t imagine going through this process of OHSS and not being pregnant, my heart goes out so deeply for women who do.  Staying on the OB mother/baby floor last weekend, I could only imagine how cruel it would be to be there, not pregnant, hearing the cries of the babies and in such pain.

My betas have continued to rise, but not at normal rates due to the OHSS.  My doctor told me this from the beginning, not to expect the doubling every other day that we typically see, because blood levels in a woman with OHSS are so skewed because of the enormous amounts of fluid in her body.  So after the initial sneaky Beta of 51, my second was drawn in the hospital at 1 in the morning and my RE texted me the result at 3 a.m. — 86.  Still pregnant.  So very early still, but pregnant.  That was when I first began to believe and let it sink in.  Last Wednesday it registered at 581 and Friday at 1315, it actually did double in that two-day period.

I am doing a lot of hanging on and a lot of waiting — what we infertiles do best.  With OHSS it is a game of waiting it out and of symptom management.  Today is day 21 of this, but as my doctor has reiterated I don’t know how many times, we never can know how long someone’s body is really going to take to get through it.  The trick now is for the effect of my Albumin levels, hopefully continuing to rise because of now being able to eat, to overcome the effect of the HCG, hopefully continuing to rise because of the growing pregnancy.  My dear mother-in-law who is a dietician has me on a high protein diet and I am trying to waste no bite on anything that does not contain protein.  Save the fried pickles and pretzels outing that Hubs and Jess took me out to over the weekend which involved airlifting me into the restaurant.

This morning as Hubs went to church I watched a streaming Easter service online and wept thinking about God’s salvation and taking a broken, messy situation and redeeming it, breathing new life into it.  His goodness to us to make us beautiful again, his goodness to me to allow me to be pregnant.  I showered and put on a dress I could zip half-way (yay for Anthropologie baggy styles) and actually did my hair and make-up.  I took a few minutes to put a tablecloth and the china out on the table for Jess and Hubs and my Easter lunch, and those little things felt like big accomplishments.

So today, much like my body is requiring me to do, my mind and heart move slowly, one foot in front of the other.  So grateful for each increasing Beta, celebrating each pound peed out!, beginning to let myself dream a little about baby names and nursery colors, and holding my breath until that ultrasound next Monday and looking for our little heartbeat.

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Today I Walked Around the Office with My Skirt Unbuttoned

The bloating is back, for better or for worse.  (And don’t worry, my baggy shirt covered up my skirt button.)  I’m going to keep this post short because I’m feeling really rough, this time some other fun symptoms mixed in like nausea, cramping, and getting (very) easily (very) tired.  I am surprised the full feeling is this bad this quickly, although it isn’t yet as severe as it was yesterday.

I worked a 12-hour day today and I’m now thinking that was overdoing it a bit.  Think I’m going to just work the morning tomorrow.  According to the nurse a lot of people do fairly well with their OHSS symptoms in the morning but around 2:00 “It hits like a Mack truck.”  Her recommendation: get everything done that you need to in the morning, then change into sweats at 2.  I just may have to heed that advice tomorrow.

Trying not to be naively optimistic, but it also would be nice if all of this discomfort were not in vain, but leading up to a BFP on Friday.

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Today I Ate a Burger

Of the veggie variety, of course.  No one panic.

This may seem like no small deal, but I can’t tell you how ecstatic I am about it.  Last Tuesday was the last day I ate somewhat normally, and that evening I started feeling very uncomfortable in the abdomen.  It’s been one rough week since & I wanted to offer an update here which I will try to keep brief.  It is quite detail-y, so no hard feelings if you want to skip this one.

I chalked it up to GI issues related to the meds.  Our transfer was Wednesday but by Thursday afternoon I was really struggling, with severe upper abdominal pain in addition to extreme bloating and was even having some shortness of breath.  I checked in with my doctor about these symptoms and she wanted me to go to urgent care, where they were concerned about my high heart rate and could not rule out a blood clot (which one is at a higher risk of on these hormones), and so they sent me to the emergency department.

After blood work and some concerning results there (i.e. high white and red blood cell counts), an EKG, and CT scan the blood clot was ruled out but they discovered fluid in my abdomen.  They gave me some good IV fluids and meds and chalked the heart rate and breathing issues up to related dehydration and the fluid in my abdomen pushing up on my heart and lungs.  We left around 1:30 a.m. & had an appointment at 7 that morning with Dr. C.  Three hours of sleep for us!  Hubs was a trooper through it all.

I’d also like to give myself a little tip of the hat…have you had a CT before?  They inject one substance in you that gives you a rush of heat throughout your body, then you have to concentrate on breathing normally which is harder than it sounds, then they inject you with another substance that makes you feel like you peed in your pants (but you didn’t) and then you have to hold your breath for ten seconds.  After signing a consent saying they will do their best to not harm a potential fetus with some hardy shields, if s/he has stuck around since Wednesday.  And of course all the while they are calling me pregnant which I’m both thrilled and terrified by.  In the IF community there is a slang term, PUPO, Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise.  I suppose they were following this line of thinking, but I couldn’t help but correct them in my mind each time, They may just be all wrong.

Although my hormone levels and other tests were within the normal range and I didn’t have many of the symptoms for it (some lower abdominal pain but not severe, normal estrogen and albium levels, no problems urinating), the next morning Dr. C diagnosed me with OHSS (ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome).

Some of my numbers had improved and I was able to force myself to eat and drink despite feeling so full that I didn’t want to, so we thought I was on an upswing and left it up to me whether they would “tap” me or not.  Tap = insert long needle into fluid pocket and drain it.  Because she thought I was improving and because it involved a rather long needle and the word “paracentesis,” I gladly declined.  She put me on a strict diet of high sodium and high protein foods and I ate my approximate body weight in dill pickle chips and guacamole (not together) in the subsequent days.  It was fun at first.

My abdomen expanded increasingly, however, and by last night it/I was gigantic, I really did not want to eat or drink, and it was very difficult to get comfortable.  Basically what happens is the hormones cause your blood vessels to become leaky, directing the fluid into your abdomen and around the uterus instead of to the kidneys.  This leads to the bloating but also to dehydration.  I broke down and googled OHSS and allowed myself one professional site (Mayo Clinic) and one lay site (some IF forum).  I learned on there that the full, pressured feeling can last 2-4 weeks, more if you’re pregnant, and that many people feel instantaneous relief from the tap.  Tap, it is.  There is just no way I could take this for much longer.

We went in today and — lo and behold — they drained almost 2 liters of fluid!   My apologies for the gross detail (I will tell you what it looked like upon request).  Also, because of the proteins in it, the fluid apparently is amazing for your garden but we politely declined the offer although we’d just gotten ours going this weekend.  The procedure was a bit painful, but not terrible and compared to all the IF involves and relative to the ongoing pain of the last five days, it was totally 100% worth it.  I highly recommend it for anyone with OHSS.  They also threw in some IV fluids, my first and third IV all in a week.  And I had room to eat a burger tonight!  High salt high protein, yippee!

Dr. C and the nurses urged me to take advantage of the window of feeling hungry because — get this — often the fluid comes back and additional tap(s) may be necessary.  They also urged me to wait as long as possible between taps.  The fluid can return in women who are not pregnant, but is even more common in women who are.  How will I not overanalyze this in the coming days?  One of the wild things about OHSS is that it is triggered by the hormone HCG.  This is the hormone contained in the Ovidrel shot that triggers ovulation pre-retrieval and also the pregnancy hormone, what the Beta test will detect to determine pregnancy on Friday.  Last Friday my HCG/Beta level was 7, so the Ovidrel was almost out of my system but not completely.  So there is a possibility that my OHSS symptoms weren’t resolving because I could in fact be pregnant — a possibility Hubs found assuring.  I was more skeptical.  However, I am a total freak and secretly hoping that the fluid madness returns.  Oh, the things IF does to you.

Lastly, neither of our two final embryos made it.  It still is so hard to believe, and hard to accept that we only got two viable embryos out of this process — especially after how awful the past week has been.  We are pressing on, though, and actually feeling fairly accepting at this point, although I fear that will all come crashing down if it is negative on Friday.  Of course we are praying like crazy for Friday and I’m hoping to have more energy to devote to that now that I’m feeling more normal.

Here’s something I got in the mail last weekend from my beautiful sis.  One of my mantras through IF and she made it into a canvas.  In our bedroom for now, but one day a nursery.

My sister is brilliant.

My sister is brilliant.

In honor of feeling a bit spunkier today, return of visual hilarity for you…

Reading for my Psychoanalytic Development class last Tuesday, the night before our embryo transfer.  What are the odds?!  Needless to say, I did not participate very much in discussion that night.

Reading for my Psychoanalytic Development class last Tuesday, the night before our embryo transfer. What are the odds?! Needless to say, I did not participate very much in discussion that night.

And Dozer the Dog — a fitter version of our little meatball, a YouTube video my sweet in-laws sent for entertainment over the weekend.

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Today I Found Seven More Gray Hairs

Well it’s been forever since I’ve blogged.  Like most posts I’ve read the past week, it’s been a wild month with all of the holiday rush and unfortunately this outlet of writing has neared the bottom of the list.  I now find myself on vacation at the coast, but with only a day left before returning to work.  And pre-mourning of course.

I’m learning more about what this pattern of pre-mourning and complete dread of returning to real life are: my life feels completely in limbo.

Besides all the cooking, hosting, partying, wrapping, and attempted-but-failed-reflecting-on-Advent of the past several weeks, there’s also been some serious decision-making.  And subsequent swings.  We decided a few weeks ago that we just weren’t quite ready to start IVF yet.  It was a week before we’d begin birth control and we were pretty sure, but just not positive.  I couldn’t imagine feeling okay with being this unsure just a week before beginning such an intense process, so we canceled the appointments and the trainings and settled on giving ourselves the three months for acupuncture and dietary changes and aiming for end of February.  I’m realizing now that said holiday bustle served as a convenient buffer from feelings about waiting.

I was feeling good, enjoying the idea of a break, brainstorming how we could make it feel restful and not just like killing time, dreaming about how to finance a little getaway to somewhere tropical.  Now that things have slowed down a bit the ache has returned.  We’re on vacation, where the past two years we were certain we would have a baby by the next.  I walked these same shores dreaming of having an infant with us next year, bringing a pack ‘n play in tow, our child getting great time with her grandparents and aunt.  This third year I’m finding myself more realistic, more guarded with my fantasies.  I begin to imagine it happening by next year, having a little one with us, but if we don’t start IVF until February, those chances are really slim and I quickly reel myself in.  If we don’t start the adoption process until then, count on two to three more Christmases without a baby.

As New Year’s Eve is here — also what would have been Day 1 of stims — I need to just call it, this year has sucked.  I’ve had some rough ones: my parents divorcing, moving 500 miles away from my dad, dealing with my crazy mother, breaking up with the love of my life (which I eventually ended up getting to marry!).  But this one goes down as the worst.  And as I look in the mirror this week I see it on my face.  Literally seven new gray hairs in the past three weeks.  (Shouldn’t the opposite be true now that we’re on a “break?”)  I’m vainly worrying that any physical beauty I did have is now behind me and that I’ll be an old, gray woman when I’m a new mother, not the perky, energetic kind wearing a yellow frilly apron that I’d imagined.  I feel like my body sucks and is failing me in this most important, female way.  Infertility has taken it’s toll in so many ways.  Not the least of which is that I’m tired of not knowing in the slightest what the next year is going to hold.

In each of the moments of returning to real life that have come at the end of a vacation the past two+ years, I thought it would all be changing soon.  I’m getting tired of that hoping, though, and realizing that, too, shouldn’t be assumed, because it hasn’t changed.  Still no baby in these arms, still hanging in at a job I’m lukewarm about, still going to appointments all the time, still seemingly zero control over our family building.  Will my life be any different this time next year, or will it still be hanging in the balance of uncertainty?  Still waiting.

Tonight I’ll drink my champagne — heck yes, thankyouverymuchbreak — and toast to 2012 being over, ushering it out gladly.  I’ll also try to breathe in and breathe out and try to welcome 2013 with whatever it does or does not bring.  While many things externally are exactly the same as last year, I do know for sure that on the inside I am a different person.  Hurt and wounded in some ways, absolutely, but also better, stronger, more grateful, aware of what I can take, learning I’m a fighter, and wanting it all even more.  Cheers to that, too.

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Today I’m Drinking Dandelion Tea

Sounds good, doesn’t it?  Like it would be yellow and pretty and smell yummy.  Wrong.  It’s kind of nutty and very bitter and resembles coffee in color more than chamomile tea.  But it is one of many things I’m changing lately to try to have only healthy things flowing through my body.

We have all but decided to go forward with IVF and have a tentative start date of December 31st.  (Yay, shots, happy new year!)  We would begin initial meds (birth control, which is so odd for any infertile woman to take) mid-December and stimulation would start the last day of 2012.  I hear the stimulation phase is the most intensive of the IVF process from a time and attention perspective, including shots a few times a day to stimulate your body to grow lots of follicles and every other day ultrasounds to monitor their progress.  This growing and watching leads up to a shot triggering the ovaries to release the eggs, retrieval surgery to get those puppies out, fertilizing them, letting them grow in the incubators, and transferring back in 3-5 days.  That’s IVF in a nutshell.  Oh, and the two week wait before finding out if it all worked.

It feels exciting to be moving toward beginning but also scary.  Obviously we’re wanting to do all we can to create a baby-friendly environment, hence the dandelion root.  I have to admit that it can feel very depriving and borderline masochistic to do all of these things.  But as my co-worker recently reminded me about scaling back with work hours, all mothers have to make sacrifices for their children and I’m just getting an early start.  This angle actually does help me a good bit, legitimizing and encouraging me forward in these decisions.

So, what I’m doing lately:

  • Eliminating processed foods, including diet coke (gasp)
  • Cutting way back (if not out) dairy, sugar, and soy to prevent inflammation and hormonal spikes/imbalances
  • Dandelion root tea and/or drops 3x/day and warm lemon water every morning for liver cleansing
  • Udo’s Omega-3 oil blend, vegetarian source of DHA (also ick)
  • Being a good girl with drinking lots of water
  • Acupuncture

As a vegetarian I’m used to having a limited diet, but adding these changes on top of that was beginning to feel overly restrictive and, enter feeling sorry for myself.  But I’m beginning to, instead, focus on being creative with all that remains — which, in reality, is most really good things.  If I were doing that Thanksgiving gratitude-a-day thing on Facebook I would say: Whole Foods iPhone App.  I’ve gotten some inspiring recipes on there and it’s helpful to view my market trips as time to stock up on good things to build up and nurture my body.  Mmmm, seltzer water.  Who needs diet coke?  Okay, fake it ’til you make it.

So as we’re looking to jump on the IVF track here in a couple weeks I’m yet again struggling a bit with the balance between doing my part in it all and yet acknowledging that I can’t control this process.  I’ve even wondered if we should postpone IVF until threeish months after I’ve consistently implemented all of these changes because what goes in my body now affects eggs that will be ovulated in three months.  But then I step back and wonder about all of the people out there who make terrible health decisions, abuse substances, live on doritos and are still pregnant.  These things help but are they enough on their own?  No.  Dandelion root can’t create life.  Omega-3s can’t create life.  I’m praying for an accurate perspective right now.

I also don’t want to get in a position of blaming myself or putting all of the pressure on me to perform just right in order to become pregnant.  As I’ve said many times before, a baby is not something I can earn or make happen for myself.  I would have done it by now.  The parallels with God’s grace really can’t be overlooked here.  I couldn’t make Him love me or earn my way into a relationship with Him.  It’s just a gift.  I don’t know how all of that works and applies in this situation with a failing body, but I do want to remind myself that He gave me that best gift already and that He is the same God I’m crying out to hundreds of times a day now.  He is a God who hears and I have seen that before.

In the meantime, in all the waiting and the hard work, I’m taking pleasure in the small things, like the holiday with family, the Christmas tree being up, a fire in the fireplace, and my amazing new fuzzy slippers.

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