Thursday, April 28, 2011

IUI #2: Failed

This latest IUI didn't work. I'm not shocked, but it doesn't make it hurt any less. We have 1 more IUI to try next month before we are moved on to IVF with ICSI or adoption.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I believe in miracles

I have hit an all-time low. I don't exactly know what to say about it. I've been so worried about making sure that Mr. is staying afloat or being taken care of that it's taken me a solid year to actually feel. I'm discouraged and sad. I have been breaking down at the most random things. I have no desire to do anything. I don't want to keep doing fertility treatments because I feel like we're doing the same thing and expecting different results. (Or at least I'm expected to hope for different results). And I'm just not willing to do that. I've heard before that infertiles experience the same levels of depression and anxiety as cancer patients. I thought that was absurd when I first heard it, and now I can see it. I can really see how it would be possible.

Today marks 2 weeks since IUI #2. I'm feeling normal. No symptoms, but I think that's also because there really isn't any hope pumping through my veins either. I've been charting as well, and if my body's temperatures actually mean what the experts say they mean, I didn't ovulate until 3 days after the IUI anyway. So really, the 2 week mark doesn't mean squat. And I should be OK to give up on this cycle. But I can't.

After canceling my Dr.'s appointment yesterday because I got home from work and flipped out at Mr. for no good reason. I could tell I was on the verge of a massive emotional meltdown. About 5 minutes later, the meltdown started. I was sobbing and saying how I don't want comfort anymore. I'm sick of praying for comfort. I want a child. I want this to be over. I just want to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and there is none. Mr. just held me and let me cry. I was mean. I know I was mean. and I was absolutely wrong. Sometime toward the end of the meltdown, my heart was calmed. I felt the strong need to listen to my husband. I managed to choke out the words, "I don't know what to do anymore. I need you to help me. I will do whatever you ask me to every single day until we hear that our little one is on the way."

Mr. looked at me, probably shocked at the sudden change in my tone, and said "I will pray about it and I will give you a letter later this week." And then he kissed the tears off my cheek. I married a tender man. And I am so grateful, because I am pretty rough around the edges and he is so patient with me.

I did feel, though, that my Heavenly Father has council that will probably only come to me. My Heavenly Father and I have a strong relationship. Some days, I forget that. Yesterday I forgot that. When I woke up this morning, though, I felt the need to pray more sincerely. I knelt down, unrushed, and offered up a simple prayer. I asked that I would know what to ask for. that I would know what He wants me to learn and how I should learn it. that I would be able to feel of His love for me. and that I would know I was not forgotten.

I brought my scriptures and a fresh journal to work with me, so I could study on my lunch break. The question of what I should study stayed in my mind all morning long. I had given a talk on temperance last year sometime and I couldn't get that word out of my head. "Study temperance."

At lunch, I grabbed my purse and found a desk in the hallway. I first wrote in the journal these words:

This is not working!! I am in serious trouble. My life is spiraling so out of control that I don't know which way is up. I have been trying so hard to stay upbeat about our childlessness/infertility that I'm just now starting to really feel everything & it is not good. I do not like myself and I am taking it out on my sweet husband. I have such a bad temper. I need to fix that, now. I say mean & hurtful things and I know he will always forgive me, but it is getting harder & harder to forgive myself. I am also just flat out in a rut. Nothing excites me anymore. Normally, when I get like this, I make a detailed master plan. The problem with that is it's my master plan. I've learned that right now I just don't know what's best for me. I need help. So I've asked Mr. to pray about it & help me know what to do. I'm praying about it too and only planning to do the things that I know come directly from my Heavenly Father.  

I needed guidance and my heart was aching for that guidance. I opened the topical guide to "temperance." There were plenty of references listed, but one stood out to me. 2 Peter 1:6. I don't know why it stuck out. It wasn't marked or anything. The surrounding text wasn't especially interesting. But it was the first (and only) scripture I turned to. When I opened the page, I saw that sometime earlier I had underlined some words in verse 4, so I started reading from there instead.

4. Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6. And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7. And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful...

Wow. Not only have I been told exactly what to do, I have been literally reminded that God is aware of the desires of my heart. He knows what I need and He hears my prayers. He will guide me through this trial. I cannot give up hope because I have not done everything that I can do. God has a plan for me. He is my Father. He knows what is best. He knows what I can handle and what I need to learn.

So the start of that chain is diligence. I must be diligent in my work. I will work every single day to bring our little one safely home. Then comes faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity. I will study in depth each one and work hard to having each trait abound in me and in my family. For, "I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say, but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise." (D&C 82:10)

I've always thought that our little baby was going to be our miracle, but I'm starting to see that the miracle might be me.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lift Your Love [#1] - Sketch it up a bit!

In our church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, masturbation is inappropriate unless for fertility treatments. Growing up with this belief made "collecting a sample" really guilt-ridden for my sweet Mr.

I went with him for our first IUI, because the guidelines of the church say that the wife is encouraged to help, as we believe intimacy to be something to be shared only between husband and wife. Turns out, me being in the room with him just stressed him out, embarrassed him, and put extra pressure on him. It was a terrible situation. I pulled out all the stops, but eventually just went out into the waiting room until the sample was collected. I felt helpless. I hated that he had to do that alone. He hated having to do it alone. Not the best experience.

We went about 6 months without going back to that clinic, and I had some time to brainstorm how I could make this easier on my Mr. I knew 3 things:

  1. Me being in the room with him wasn't going to work out. 
  2. The church recommends the wife helping
  3. I wanted him to know how much I supported him. I also wanted to take some of the pressure off of him. 
My solution? 

Take boudoir photos! 

For those of you who don't know, there is an entire branch of photography geared toward taking tasteful (yet somewhat scandalous) images of wives for their husbands. From checking out pricing, though, it was like $350 for what I wanted. (20 images and a book) Fertility treatments take up all of our money, now, and I knew blowing $350 on something I wanted to surprise my husband with would not be a possibility. 

So, I researched a few professional photographers and combed through their portfolios. I took note of poses, lingerie, backgrounds, etc. I told one of my good girl friends what I was thinking about doing and she mentioned how she'd always wanted to do something like that for her husband, so we got to work! One Friday, we snapped pictures for about 4 hours, picked through the images to find our favorites and edited them over the next week. It was a lot of work, but I surprised Mr. with a few of the images (the book is still in the mail somewhere...) before our IUI yesterday and he loved them! Men are extremely visually stimulated, which means my photos made everything easier on him. I felt supportive. I felt like I could help him somehow, and I didn't have to be in the room with him. Every man is different, so this might not be right for everyone. All I know is that it sure made a difference for us! 

I did learn a few things to make this go well: 
  1. Get a nicer camera so you can shoot in RAW mode. Borrow one if you have to. Shooting in RAW mode allows you to change the lighting and white balance of the photos in photoshop. It makes a HUGE difference in making the photos look professional if you aren't a pro photographer. 
  2. You will need Photoshop. You can download a 30-day free trial here
  3. High heels make a huge difference. Get necklaces, hair clips, accessories, etc. to glam things up a little bit. 
  4. Use portraiture to make your skin look incredible! There is a 14-day free trial here
  5. Ask a friend to take the pictures. If you try to use a timer on the camera your images won't be in focus and you won't be able to get the angles that you want. 
  6. Don't be afraid to crop pictures! Mix it up by cropping close up shots and full shots. 
  7. Use a plain white sheet behind you. Then, you can open up any image you would like to use as a background, open it in photoshop, change the blend mode to overlay, and erase it off of you so it is only on the sheet. It will blend perfectly! I shot all of my photos in 2 rooms in our tiny apartment and the photos look like I was in 6 or 7 different places. 
  8. Remember that your husband thinks you are beautiful. He loves you. This is for him. 
  9. In Photoshop, if you go to filter > liquify, you will be able to clean up love handles, thighs, etc. Just don't over do it! You don't want to look fake! 
  10. Even if you get one that is great, it will be worth it! You'll blow him away! :) 
Just a note: Be careful when googling boudoir photography. There are some pretty sketchy things out there. The idea is to make it tasteful and classy. You are not an object. He should not want to treat you like an object. If you do not feel uplifted and beautiful by the images you are seeing, it is not what you want. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

IUI #2

Yesterday, we did our 2nd IUI. It was completely different from the first time. For that, I'm really grateful. This one came with its own set of issues, though. I was reminded, again, just how steep this uphill battle is.

I took the entire day off of work to relax my body as much as possible. I slept in, took a long hot shower, spent an entire hour getting ready for the day, and worked on a little surprise for the Mr. He came home around 11, we left for the clinic around 11:30. We had to make a quick stop to pick up that little surprise, which also happens to be Lift Your Love #1 and will be posted soon. :) I went inside, Mr. pounded an energy drink in the car. (It supposedly helps with sperm motility...and it makes Mr. feel manly, so it's become a tradition.)

Driving up to the clinic, we held hands the entire way. We felt so united for this procedure. We were a team. It had been 6 months since we'd made the drive to the clinic. It's funny how time marches on.

When we arrived, I sat down in the waiting room, and Mr. went back. 15 minutes passed. 30 minutes. 45 minutes. I hate not being able to help him or even know what's going on or if he needs me. (For IUI #1, I went back with Mr. and it only resulted in unnecessary stress.)

Just when I started to panic, Mr. came through the waiting room door. He grabbed my hand and off we went to lunch while the clinic washed and prepped the sample. As soon as we got in the car, I could tell it wasn't good.

"There wasn't very much."
"That was so hard. I hate doing that."

I completely lost it. I was terrified, angry, and confused. We had fasted to be able to do this today! We drove around for a while looking for a place to eat. Mr. probably suggested 15 different restaurants before just picking one for me. I was being a punk. I had already given up on this treatment, and we hadn't even done it yet. (Looking back, I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that it was 2pm and I hadn't eaten anything at all. I think I'm going to make a treatment day to-do list so this doesn't happen again. Emotions will be running crazy anyway, no need to fuel the fire with low blood sugar.)

Mr. walked me inside. I ordered a bowl of clam chowder and finally exhaled. Mr. grabbed my hand and we slowly but surely got back on the same page. By the time lunch was over, the mood had completely changed.

We walked to the car, Mr. gave me a whole-body kiss, you know, the ones where he completely scoops you up and makes you feel like you're the only two people in the world.

And then he winked at me and said, "Let's do this."

For how powerful we felt, we should have been wearing football pads and eye-black. Love and unity in a marriage is an impressive combination.

We went back to the clinic, and sure enough, the sample was about 2ml less than Mr.'s normal. BUT, the motility and viscocity were exactly the same as last time. A "normal" sample of someone without male-factor infertility has about 40 million. We had about 4.7 million to work with. Post-wash/prep, we had exactly 1.0 million of viable sperm.

Shockingly enough, I felt completely calm and confident going in to the exam room. We were together. We were in love. We were sealed for eternity. No matter what, I have the love of my life forever. It hit me hard, there in the exam room, just how blessed we really are.

Mr. rubbed my back until the nurse practitioner came in. She did the procedure and left all in the space of about 3 minutes. I laid down and Mr. gave me a priesthood blessing. I have absolutely no idea how people go through this trial without the gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The priesthood power here on earth is such a strength and a comfort to me, and any worthy man in the church can hold it, which means my husband has the power to give me blessings directly from my Heavenly Father.

We walked out to the car with the rest of the day ahead of us. We went shopping at a nearby mall, out to dinner, and cuddled and laughed and made out all the way down the escalator. We escaped the world together for just a day. During treatments like these, for us, it's important to remember that this is a very hard thing we are doing. The most important thing we can do is strengthen our marriage and take care of each other. If we are not united, we have already lost.

14 days from now, we'll know if IUI #3 will be happening or if we got lucky!

Monday, April 11, 2011


It's funny how the things that you pray and fast for change as you break down the fertility process. When we first got married, we prayed to know if we needed to start our family. When we started "trying" we prayed that we would conceive a child. When we weren't having success naturally, we prayed to know what was going on. When we tried our first IUI, we prayed for a baby. Last month, my body didn't ovulate, something we had taken for granted each and every cycle.

This month, we fasted that my body would ovulate and that we would be given the chance to conceive our baby. I am charting this month (waking up at 5:30 am each day to take a temperature is REALLY lame. But it is a means to an end. The Mr. often puts the thermometer in my mouth and takes it out while I try to wake up stay asleep.)

I started taking ovulation tests on day 10, exactly 1 week ago. I anticipated a positive test on day 14 or 15, but no luck. So, on day 16, we started our fast. Today, I went to take the ovulation test. I had to take it at work, and standing in the bathroom stall I don't know that I have ever prayed so hard in my life. Knowing the Mr. was sitting somewhere in class praying for the same thing brought me a lot of comfort. It's that feeling when the spirit just makes your heart sing. I looked down and this is what I saw:

Our last IUI was done on day 22. So day 17 is a MAJOR improvement.

We just can't wait to see what the next month holds for us. Hopes are high! We are united. God is watching over us. He has heard our prayers. What a difference fasting makes!

So excuse us, we've got some phone calls to make. :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Lift Your Love

There are so many ways wives can be supportive when their husbands are diagnosed with male-factor infertility. I knew, from the moment we received the results of that first semen analysis, that this was going to be harder on my husband than I could ever imagine. I knew right then that this was not going to be about me, even though I was going to experience a great deal of pain, too. I knew I needed to help him understand that I chose him on our wedding day and I would continue to choose him each and every day. The Lift Your Love series will outline specific ways I have found help my Mr. on the bad days (and the good days!)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Don't fix what isn't broken...

Last month was super frustrating. Beginning fertility treatments can be extremely scary, but also, it's the most hope a couple going through infertility has probably had in a while. At least it was for us. When our first IUI failed last October, it was a major blow. We took off for the weekend in an attempt to run away from everything. What really happened was a major emotional breakdown on the freeway. Needless to say, it took us a while to be able to "get back on the horse."

In January, we met with a homeopathic doctor. He recommended a few herbal and hormonal supplements for our condition. Mr. got put on some male hormone and testosterone drops, and I started taking a supplement called Rubus Idaeus and progesterone. We were eating healthy, exercising, sleeping, taking good care of our bodies, etc. And keeping track of my cycle. Rubus Idaeus is supposed to even out my cycle to 28 days. And it did, shockingly quick. My period started 6 days earlier than normal. We were out of town and I was completely unprepared. But I was thrilled. It meant these supplements were working!

We were on board for IUI #2. (If we do 3 IUIs without success, IVF is our only option.) I took ovulation tests every single day, sometimes 2x a day. Started on day 10 just like the RE recommended. Day 10 came, negative. We expected that. Day 14 came, negative. That was kind of odd, especially for how quickly my cycle evened out. Mr. was headed out of town on days 15-17 so our prayers switched for a few days. We made it through the weekend without a positive test. We were in the clear!

Day 21 came, negative. Day 23, 25, 26, negative. and then we scrapped the ovulation tests. My last period had started 6 days early when we were out of town. It was pretty light, too. And so we ventured into that dangerous, dangerous land of "maybe we're pregnant..."

One test later and we knew that wasn't the case. Frustration hit about 48 hours later. We had done everything! We were on medication to up the sperm count & quality and prime my body for conception. We had been exercising, eating right, and following all the rules and MY body won't even give us the chance to try??

Thus began the biggest funk I've ever been in. Depression hit hard. My body isn't supposed to be the one with the problem. My body is supposed to be the reason we still have a chance in this game. After a few long conversations with my Heavenly Father and at least 3 long cries, I heard "Don't fix what isn't broken." It dawned on me that at the beginning of our marriage, I had taken progesterone pills as birth control. From charting and bloodwork, we know that my body ovulates every single cycle. The only change this cycle was the supplements. I was taking progesterone. Those birth control pills at the beginning of our marriage threw my body off so hard (not to mention my emotions, which also haven't been too great lately).

After talking with Mr. we decided that his supplements are working, so he will continue to use them. Rubus Idaeus has a pretty great track record (41/43 women in the test group conceived after using it for 4 months). So I'll continue taking those to help Mr.'s swimmers as much as possible. And we pick our heads up and psyche up for IUI #2 as soon as my body will allow it.

Testing for IUI #2 started today. Here we go!