Just when I thought I had control…

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

  • My IVF comrades
  • Everyone

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I was punched in the gut and reminded I have none. I realize I can’t control this whole thing  (being pregnant) BUT I thought I figured out how to manage my schedule. But here I am, anxiety ridden and waiting for test results yet again.

I was supposed to get my ERA test results last Wednesday. This is a key detail because I am once again on my meds gearing up for a transfer (slated for next week). While with the doctor, not 5 minutes after my ERA test I asked if I was going to start my meds when I got my period. He told me I wouldn’t start meds because he didn’t want to get me going and then not get results in time.

Five days after my test I got my period and got a call saying it was time to get things going. I thought it was a mistake, I was told explicitly that they were going to wait. After a number of emails and calls I was told it was not a mistake, I should start taking my meds because we would have the results.

Fast forward to today and we do not have results and time is literally ticking. I was told things may work out, I may have to cancel  my cycle, or push back my transfer. The last two options are unacceptable and incredibly upsetting. I naively planned a trip for next weekend to help me “relax” after the transfer but that seems to hang in suspension.

I am tired and beat down by this process. I wish I could say, “Yes XXX I will be there with the utmost certainty.”  Just when I think I have made gains I take a few steps back.

I know the women who are reading this know what this feels like. I am here with you, once again waiting and wishing this was over.

-Annie

 

Dear Pregnant folks and Parents,

WHO THIS IS FOR:

  • My comrades going through IVF or the adoption process
  • Fertile people who post all over Facebook, all of the time.

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Dear Pregnant Couples and Parents,

I am writing on behalf of my infertile friends and allies. I can say with the utmost certainty that your lackadaisical comments and behavior drives us mad.  So instead of screaming I am going to bestow upon on you a few nuggets of wisdom and hope that you savor every word and let it marinate. This are not to say its not okay to have feelings, what I am saying though is you are privileged. Be aware of your privilege before typing away, while in line at Starbucks, at parties, etc.

STOP AND SAY THANK YOU

Making a baby required you to have sex, tough times. Following the birth of your children you post about how much your life sucks.

Next time your kid shits on the wall, or you haven’t slept all night, stop and look at your baby/kid and say thank you. Give him or her a kiss and appreciate you have the privilege to manage those new experiences.

PREGNANCY SICKNESS

You are sick because there is a living being in your body who is growing. You are beyond privileged. Say thank you to your belly each time you throw up. This may sound insane but I would do anything (and I am) to have that privilege and I know so many women who are in the same boat.

FINANCIAL WOES

Next time you post about how much a kid costs, stop. Go into your kids room, take out a book, snuggle and read together. Having sex to create your kid was free. If finding a nanny is too much for you, we don’t want to hear about it.  You didn’t have to put up 10s of thousands of dollars just to create your baby. Say thank you to your body.

VENT

If you feel the urge to vent, call a friend. Do not blast social media.

Think of it like this, if you had a friend with cancer or diabetes or any other health issue, would you post on Facebook about how tough it is to be healthy? Because infertility is so hush hush people don’t give infertility the same thoughtfulness. “Infertility is a disease that results in the abnormal functioning of the male or female reproductive system. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recognize infertility as a disease.” (Learn more here)

I beg of you to be more thoughtful. You have no idea who is crying when looking at their computer screen. I am just one of millions who are experiencing infertility, be aware of who and how you  are impacting people.

-Annie

 

In case you missed it: Best of Infertility Awareness Week

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

EVERYONE!


Last week was National Infertility Awareness week, the internet was booming with awesome articles about infertility. It was excited to see folks engage in dialogue and feel a little less alone in all of this. Below is some of the best articles I read this past week. I hope you can share continue to spread the word outside of this designated week.

The Loneliness Of Infertility featured in Elle Magazine ->Absolutely beautiful piece- poetic.

The Pain of Infertility Never Goes away featured in Scary Mommy

Why Infertility Awareness Week Should Matter to Moms  featured in Romper

The Tale of the Clueless Resident

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

Everyone

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So there I am, laying with my feet in stir ups. My ultra sound tech had to run out of the room to double check something on my chart. The resident stood across the room silently,  I decided to fill the silence with noise.

I asked her how long she was working at the office and what her speciality was in. I explained my lining, the usual office chatter. She let me know she was going to work in high risk pregnancies and that she appreciated learning more about what she was seeing on the screen.

A few second of silent passed and then…“I wish I could be in your spot?” she said. “What do you mean?” I replied.

“You know, without kids.”

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Immediately my brain malfunctioned.  Is this really happening? Could she really be saying this? I started to believe I was in the twilight zone.

“I am here because my body is failing. I don’t think you want to be in my seat,” I say.

She continues, “Uh I am just so tired. I have 3 kids. I am just so fertile, I just couldn’t stop having them.”

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DEEP BREATHS, DEEP BREATHS

“Sounds like poor planning,” I say. “You did have the option of this thing called, birth control. You should have used it,” I state.

SILENCE//Subject switched.

When I left I began to process what had happened. Was this woman for real? Do I tell the doctor? ::BRAIN SPINNING::

I went home, started working and forgot about the whole thing until surgery. Upon waking up from the anesthesia I saw my doctor and decided to spill the beans. My husband said it went a little something like this:

“Doc, you know the resident? You need to have a chat with her.” I then went through the exchange. He was mortified.

Unfortunately I have heard stories like this from a number of women. Where on earth do people get the idea that saying they got pregnant easily or having kids is annoying would be comforting to women who are struggling to get pregnant? I can not comprehend where this break down in understanding occurs.

Now its a funny story, but WOWEEE at the time!

-ANNIE

Ultrasounds: The Who, What, and Why

WHO  THIS POST IS FOR:

  • Any woman who ever needs a transvaginal ultrasound.
  • Women going through any sort of infertility treatment (IUI, IVF, you name it)

I am not a doctor. If I am going to bestow technical/medical information upon you, I want to ensure all information is accurate and thus I am going straight to the source. This post was a collaboration between myself and dear friend, Teresa. Teresa has been a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer for thirty years, she’s a pro.

On a personal side, Teresa is the gal who told me to come in for a check up. She started me on this journey and I am so incredibly grateful for all of the information she gave me each visit. Because of her care, I was empowered to read my ultrasounds at my new doctor and I feel confident I know what questions to ask each visit. She helped me learn the ropes and now she is here to help you! This post is a collaboration between us and it’s just the start. In the coming weeks we will have more about what questions to ask, what you see on the screen, and more.

THE WHY

You will have a transvaginal ultra sound most visits (along with blood work). You will visit the doctor A TON leading up to procedures (3-5 times a week) so its incredibly important you make buddy buddy with your sonographer. She (maybe a he) is going to be the first person who can deliver information to you. Side note:Buy (or make) them cookies.

The ultrasound gives the doctor a look at what the heck is going on inside of your ovaries and uterus. Your ovaries are the star of the show leading up to a retrieval. Your uterine lining is important if you are doing a fresh transfer (transfer just following a retrieval). During your ultrasound the sonographer measures your follices and your uterine lining. Both are important to help the doctor identify when its time for a retrieval or if your uterus is prime real estate for an embryo. If you are prepping for a frozen transfer, your uterine lining will be the main focus.

THE WHAT

Unlike the movies (transducer probe) this ultrasound isn’t going across your belly. Instead, the probe goes inside your lady business and uses high frequency sound waves to create images of your pelvic anatomy. The images are projected onto a screen, you will see each follicle as well as the thickness of the lining. The sonographer is a pro at measuring each part of what they see, gives this data to the doctor, and the doctor decides how to proceed.

WHAT TO EXPECT

You will undress from the waste down, so wear something quick and easy to change in and out of. If you are wearing a tampon, take that out before (for obvious reasons :)). Also, go to the bathroom before hand, you will feel way more comfortable. You will lay back just like you are at the gyno and the sonographer will prep the device. They put a giant condom like thing on it with some gel. You can ask to insert it yourself (I recommend). Then you lay back and watch the screen!

WHAT ARE THEY LOOKING AT?

This post is covering the basics so let’s start at the Antral Follicle Count (somtimes referred to as the resting follicles). Your follicles are the magical sacks inside of your ovaries that grow and house your eggs.  This test does not measure the quality of the eggs (a whole other beast for another post), just the quantity of follicles. The doctor can presume that your follicles are growing eggs, however they don’t know for sure until they go in for the retrieval.  

A high antral follicle count is associated with a higher risk for overstimulation and ovarian hyper stimulation (the absolute pits).

Teresa’s pointed out and its  a great thing to  remember,  the antral follicle count is not a predictor of your ability to conceive.

I am sure you are THRILLED to head to the doctor after seeing that probe, hooray for IVF!

 

 

 

 

 

TREAT YO’ SELF: SURVIVING IVF WEIGHT GAIN

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

  • Women going through IVF rounds.
  • Really caring, lovely partners who want to keep their lady’s spirits up.

UPCOMING POSTS:

  • Winter Fashion ideas PT 1

Meet Annie circa summer 2014.

I was in shape, estrogen free, and on top of the world! I wore vintage dresses, tight tops, and hated pants.

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I’m on the right (Oh heyyy best friend- pictured left)

Fast forward to IVF times. I have had to make a MAJOR mental shift around my body and the clothes I wear. For years I have been pretty meticulous about documenting what I eat and what I do to work out. I can say with certainty that throughout 2015 I walked an average of 10 miles a day, worked out 5 times a week, ate 1250 or less 6 days a week AND STILL gained about 25 pounds. My doctor was shocked at how much I gained but the more women I talk to, the more I learn this is the norm. I have a friend who gained 40 pounds over the course of her IVF cycles (1.5 years). Insane amounts of hormones are incredibly powerful. Although my husband reminded me everyday its the drugs, it is super hard to remember this when you are emotionally delicate and your body feels like garbage.

NOW CUE THE FOLKS WHO HAVE NEVR BEEN THROUGH IVF:  They will say, “Be kind.” “Be positive.” I was once one of you and here is what I have to tell ya. It is almost impossible to immediately embrace this mindset and its a hell of a lot easier said then done. When you feel like a slug who is stuck in a tub of mud mixed with melted marshmallows and are sucking down spinach smoothies every day hoping you stay the same size, the last thing you want to be told is to get over it. While your comments may come from a good place, they make you feel like the struggle isn’t real and sisters, it is very real.

I am all about positive self image (Hooray for feminism!) but SHEESH it is nearly impossible to feel good about yourself when you feel like you are insanely bloated, your stomach is sticking out like your are 6 months pregnant, and your body aches. My experience with IVF has forced me to change my style (for now) and show a shit ton of compassion towards myself. Below is my sage advice on how to survive the major body shifts you will most likely face (and if you don’t, count your blessings and say HALLELUJAH!).

  1. Own and accept that this is your reality: As my wonderful therapist said, “Annie you are going to feel like crap until this is all over.” Its’ true and thus, make the best of the situation by indulging in the little things that may make you feel better (even if they are superficial… although putting on pants that fit is pretty darn real!).
  2. REALLY own this is your reality: I was super resistant to buying new clothes at first. I was dead set on waiting until I was pregnant. This was really just a way to divert my energy into admitting what was really wrong. I didn’t want to shop and see a new number on the size tag. While I realize this goes against my values, the number itself doesn’t truly represent the core issue. Going from a 0 to a 4 (which is a perfectly healthy and beautiful size) was the thing I could point to and get angry at rather than admitting what was really wrong. My body was supposed to be the one thing I could control amongst the chaos. My anger wasn’t at my size, it was at the situation. I was angry that I had to go through this experience and my weight was a visual reminder of the unfair circumstances I was/am in.
  3. You may be on a tight budget BUT its important to buy some new clothes. Here is where my lovely therapist comes in again, “Annie go buy pants at Old Navy. Never spend more than $25.00” Do not, I repeat, DO NOT buy expensive items of clothing. Eventually you will go back to normal and when you do, thats when you can buy yourself that gorgeous dress from Anthropologie or that beautiful pair of jeans from Madewell.
  4. This isn’t forever: don’t buy a bunch of new clothes. Try to buy staples. A black pair of pants will take you far. Buy a piece or two that will keep you from being reminded that you can’t fit into your ________. Update your pieces as you gain weight.
  5. Stretchy things are your friends! Buttons, who needs them?! If you are going to buy something with a zipper, get the skirt or dress thats just a little too big. You will thank yourself later.
  6. Flowy is in: It’s cool to look like you stole you boyfriend’s shirt, roll with it. While my aesthetic is all about structure and a solid classic fit, now is not the time. Buy big sweaters and flowy shirts, once again you will thank yourself later.

MINI INDULGENCES:

  • Manicures! You may feel like a balloon but hey, your nails look on point!
  • Lipstick! When the economy tanks, lipstick sales rise. This is not a coincidence, a little color can brighten your day.
  • Massage! You owe it to yourself! You are putting your body through a war, treat yo’ self.

** Yes this is all superficial and don’t really “fix” the bigger problem but damn they fool good in the moment.

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BIG INDULGENCES:

If you have a week off of meds, get the heck out of town. Go to Mexico, find a beach, a bar and LAY.

REMEMBER:

I am in a way better place this round because I know the weight gain is temporary. When I went on my break I immediately lost about 10 pounds. I of course worked hard, but it wasn’t as hard as I would have thought. You really do hold onto a ton of water with the meds and it will go away (Truth: I gained 5 pounds of water just this week, hoorah! and it will go away within the next two). TRUST.

-Annie

Dear Ovaries,

It’s me, Annie.

This blog is a long time coming. Here’s what ya need to know:

I am infertile… or so we think…

So why a blog you may ask? Throughout my infertility process I have been shocked by the number of women who experience infertility but do not talk about it publicly or to their own social circles. It’s a lonely and scary experience, lacking a community makes it harder. 6.7 MILLION (11% of women) experience infertility and yet its a point of shame. Its time to speak up sisters! It is not shocking that once again, something revolved around women’s bodies and health is a point of discomfort. Women are taught that their worth is within their ability to mother while simultaneously taught to be ashamed of their bodies. And let’s be honest, the dead stare people give you when you tell them what you are doing doesn’t motivate you to want to share. Being a woman is a tough space to navigate when you are feeling 100%, its even harder when you are on insane amounts of hormones. And so I have created this space to laugh, cry, and figure out how to navigate the messy world of infertility alongside you.

To be clear, this blog is to not to chart my day-to-day (I can sum that up with cry-doctor appointment- laugh-cry-surgey-doctor appoint-repeat). It is a space to support one another. While this blog is not about personal woes,  I do think it’s pertinent to share what led me to this point. And thus I bring you the tale of two sad ovaries.

TIMELINE:

  • December 2013- Cue voice in my head that said… its time, lets make babies! Tell husband, he says “DUH!” Decision made, case closed. (I was 27 at the time)
  • May 2014- Off BC
  • June 2014- No period
  • July 2014- No period
  • August 2014- No period… okay this is getting weird right? Turned 28
  • September 2014- No period… okay time to do something  (I always got my period before BC)
  • Late September 2014- Family friend works for a fertility doctor and suggests they check me out. I learn my uterus and ovaries have gone on vacation. No diagnosis, suspect PCOS, nothing confirmed.
  • October 2014- Prepped for IUI, body doesn’t respond to meds. On the last day of the cycle I begin to ovulate and they  go through with IUI.
  • November 2014- Negative test- not pregnant
  • December 2014- Prepped for IUI using stimulant shots since I didnt respond to the chlomide equivalent. BOOM! I really react to these meds, round is cancelled, not safe for me to have an IUI.- Devastated.
  • December 2014- Fast tracked to IVF, high risk for over-stimulation (too many follicles, ovaries can rupture). Big decisions to make.

MINDSET OCTOBER- DECEMBER: This can’t really be happening? This will be over soon!

  • January 2015- Start IVF meds (shots, etc.)
  • Early February 2015- Egg Retrieval #1- FAIL. Had over 20 follicles and the Dr. didn’t get one egg out. TRAUMATIZING.
  • Mid February 2015- Switch doctors, feel a sense hope.- Diagnosed with “Unexplained Infertility” <—BOO!
  • Late February 2015- HSN reveals scar tissue, have a hysteroscopy to remove.
  • March 2015- Egg Retrieval #2- UTTER SUCCESS!! 48 Follicles, 24 eggs retrieved, 6 beautiful Day 6 Embryos.– Starting to feel hope again.
  • April 2015- Transfer #1- FAIL- 1 embryo
  • May 2015- Transfer # 2- FAIL- 1 embryo
  • June 2015- Transfer #3- FAIL – 1 embryo
  • July 2015- Transfer #4- FAIL- 2 embryos- By this point I am a drugged out zombie who is a shell of a human. I have gained 25 lbs in about 5 months (despite eating 1250 calories of nutrient dense food (this was my normal before IVF) a day and working out 5 days a week), feel beyond terrible, and am devastated. I had defied the stats.

MINDSET JANUARY-JULY: WHY ME? WHY ME?! NO END IN SITE.

  • July 2015- Official start to our break, devised a new plan
  • August 2015- December 2015– Break with a plan to start in November. October rolled around and I wasn’t ready to start up again. I was feeling like myself and was not mentally ready for the meds.  While this break was terrifying to me initially, it was the best thing we could have done. I gained so much clarity and was able to create a timeline. ALSO NO PERIOD. Turned 29.
  • December 2015- Start prepping for retrieval

MINDSET DECEMBER: It is what it is! End is in sight. We will have a baby either through this next cycle or adoption.

  • January 2016- Retrieval #3– COMING SOON

Next steps are contingent upon our embryos.  Because I do not have a  diagnosis, I am young, and I am told over and over “everything looks perfect” we need to genetically test our embryos.

 

WHAT TO EXPECT:

  • Guides to doctors visits
  • Explanations of procedures
  • Stories of IVF- the good, the bad, the ugly
  • Listographies (think Buzzfeed)
  • Fashion Posts
  • Health and Wellness Posts
  • Media reviews
  • Resources

and MORE!

-Annie

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