Saturday, February 28, 2009

Marriage Therapy? Really?

I think Tim and I have a darn good marriage. We truly enjoy one another, make major decisions together, finish each others sentences and agree on “most” things. His relaxed nature balances out my neurotic tendencies.

So when I received a phone call from a Marriage & Family Therapist, I almost hung up…..she surely must have the wrong couple!!!

A quick read through the material presented at IVF info night clarified everything. We were required to have a one hour counseling session with the therapist in order to proceed with IVF. MANDATORY for all couples. Phew, I thought that maybe based on our behavior at info night, we had been chosen for additional “therapy”

3 weeks ago, the appointment arrived and Tim and I agreed that we should make it as quick as possible. Answer the basics and get out- this was his plan of attack. After nine years of marriage my husband should know that given the chance….and with a Starbucks coffee in hand, candles burning and a comfy couch….I can talk for hours!

I should also know that after nine years of marriage my husband would want to know why he must endure a 3rd party induced counseling session. His first question as we sat down was directed to the therapist and went like this:

“What are you hoping to get out of this session with us?”

I told you he makes me laugh……the therapist was polite, but she was not laughing…

Once Tim was satisfied with her answer we got into the nitty gritty…

  • Do you have major stresses in your life and do you have a plan in place to manage them during this process?

  • Have you thought about the outcome - good or bad?

  • Have you talked to Cole about the process

  • How do you communicate with each other, how do you resolve issues?

  • Do you have a support group (family, friends, church)

  • Do you have any addictive tendencies…. During stressful times people often compensate in other areas such as drinking…gambling….shopping…exercise

So far so good, I think we have positioned ourselves well, no major “ah ha” moments as Oprah calls it. The therapist let us read her notes and once we signed off that she had “interpreted” us correctly, we were given the stamp of approval!

Later that evening, after Cole was in bed and Tim and I were relaxing, I began to wonder if my reaction to the session would have been different if we did not have Cole. If I was sitting on that couch struggling with primary infertility would I be as calm about the outcome? I have said before that I always thought I would have 3 or 4 kids……..

And as though Tim was reading my mind…..he leaned over and whispered…

“Just so you know, I’m 100% ok if Cole is our one and only, we are blessed to have him”

Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, no marriage counseling needed here……

Thursday, February 26, 2009

My Life as a Pincushion....Part 1

“Cheryl, we have scheduled the injection training session for Feb 10th.”

Excuse me? I need training? What on earth will I be doing that requires a full hour of training?

Can we say NAÏVE!

How did I expect the drugs to get into my system?? Slow release pill form? Or how about powder scooped into one of the protein shakes I drink daily…. let’s just blend it in there!

Ever since Cole was misdiagnosed with a thyroid issue when he was 5 weeks, I have steered away from using the internet for any medical type research. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the “net” but a cough can be cancer and not just a cold if you’re not careful! So I didn’t do any research on the actual preparation for invitro……I know…, type A extraordinaire!!! Can you imagine?

Training day arrived and I was surprisingly calm. Maybe it was the yummy coffee in hand, the WinterPeg sun was finally shining…..or maybe Tim was distracting me by being his funny self. Whatever it was, the feeling quickly subsided once the nurse brought in all the viles and pens of medication and then….the syringes and needles.

I could feel the sweat starting to build, my nurse must have sensed it too as she asked me if I was sweating??? Was it THAT obvious????

I was told to start 50units of Suprefact on Feb 16th, one injection per day, between 4-8pm. Per the medical dictionary, Suprefact is “A long-acting gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogue which downregulates the pituitary-gonadal axis”

In everyday terms….it suppresses my ovarian function…..umm yeah, is that not my issue in the first place?? I now have to inject needles daily to make my lazy ovaries even lazier!

As I comforted myself in knowing I had 6 days to get used to the idea, the nurse politely dropped the Do-It-Yourself bomb…I had to do a “test” injection, right here in the meeting room, right now……not the kind of thing you spring on a gal like me…..

The process goes like this:

1. Swab the top of the vile with rubbing alcohol
2. Stick needle into the vile and draw 50 units
3. Swab area of skin on the belly….pinch an inch
4. Hold the syringe like you’re at the pub throwing darts (I kid you not that is the analogy she used!)
5. Hold at 90 degree angle, jab it into the stomach and release the meds.

I am generaly not a procrastinator so .......Breathe….3…2….1………jam!! Tim’s jaw dropped to the floor. I DID IT!!

While I am not running out to the university to register for nursing or med school, I felt proud of myself. Daily injections are just another step towards the end goal.

But was I ready for my belly to become a pincushion?

11 days later and I have to say my life as a pincushion has not been the most pleasant. I get a bit ancy at 5:55pm, just before I head upstairs to do the "deed". I have also discovered there are minimal places remaining on my stomach that I can stick a needle into... I bruise too quickly and sticking a needle through a bruise hurts......who knew??

So I have been alternating sides, to the right of the belly button, to the left and various places below. When I looked at my belly in the mirror today, an odd, yet familiar pattern kind of looks like this...

And again.....I smiled...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Today was a day full of optimistic news!!! Let me share…..

I have been injecting medication into my stomach (I will post on the injection process later this week) for over a week now and today I had to get some blood work as well as an ultrasound done at the clinic. At this stage appointments mean progress no complaints here!

The results would tell me if I could proceed with round 2 of injections which will hopefully lead to egg retrieval in 8-13 days.

It’s first come first serve at the clinic….doors open at 8am, kind of like a boxing day sale! I arrived at 7:55am and sure enough I was 6th in line, dang…… some girls are anxious to get poked and prodded!

The blood work was ok…, having endured a monthly needle in my right arm for a year now, it was no big deal. I find myself more interested now in how the nurses slide the needle in, and which way pinches more...... anyways,

The ultrasound…..soooooooo NOT ok. First of all, the ultrasounds are all done internally, not like a pregnancy ultrasound. This means technique is critical! Second of all, I did not have my cute friendly doctor by my side. I had never met this one before so the banter was not as comfortable. I know they have done this thousands of times but in my life, I do not get ultrasounds done on a regular basis!

The entire time I am wincing in pain as he tries to “locate” my left ovary.
“come out come out wherever you are…..” were his words, as though my ovary was intentionally playing hide and go seek. How old am I…...4?

Dig dig dig as he tried to get around my uterus in search of the missing lefty….by now I am sweating and wishing I could grab that ultrasound wand and throw it against the wall! Did he not hear my whimpering? (I would have acted like my 4 year old and tattled on him for being so rough, had he not been the FOUNDER of this clinic!)

And then he laughed, “Ah ha! There it is….sleeping away. Just as we like them to do at this stage” And then he left the room, no hand out to help me sit up, no smile…….poof, he was off to the next patient.

So I paid my $5,400 for the next stage of this process and I left with a promise from the nurse that she would phone me in the afternoon with my results

Results came in and....... I AM ALL SET TO GO TO STAGE 2!

Tim, Cole and I took off for Shoppers Drug Mart to get the meds for the next 6 days and the bargain gods were looking down on me today…….

Part of the drugs were free, thanks to a Smartcard the pharmacy uses (I did not question it!) And then I got a free "300ml pen" of medication, which means 2 shots worth for me ($300)….thanks to some program the pharmaceutical companies JUST starting running for first time invitro patients.

I will take a deal whenever I can….even if it’s in the form of drugs!


Total cost for today? $6,400
Total cost for my optimism?……


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Information night

Back in December Tim and I attended a mandatory information session at the clinic. This evening was hosted for couples approved for the Feb-March invitro session.

I have always said the world is small and that we are all somehow connected, but I think Winnipeg is extremely small…….

As Tim and I found our seats in the last row, we said hello to the couple taking a seat beside us. One big happy invitro family!

Another couple walks into our row and as they pass the first couple sitting down, the man exchanges a civil hello with the woman sitting down. Both couples are seated now and the man says to his wife, “honey, this is Rachel…….” Pointing to the other couple

Now we women NEVER forget a name and so the wife says,

“As in Rachel, the one you dated in high school Rachel?”

I kid you not; these long lost loves from high school were meeting up once again in a fertility clinic of all places!

The irony provided some much needed excitement for Tim and I as we smirked at eachother………..deep down thankful none of our “exes” were in the room

We were given a tour of the rooms where the “egg retrieval” and “implantation” would take place, as well as the room where the “male sample” is given. Seriously?? Are people really interested in knowing these things?

Me, being an auditor, I was more concerned with the control over the storage of the eggs being fertilized as well as the longer term storage of any additional eggs I will hopefully produce. How are the tubes labeled? Is there an alarm system on the unit? What if the power fails, is there a backup or a disaster recovery plan in place to remove and transport those eggs to a secondary facility???

Rest assured the clinic would get a clean audit opinion from me, they have everything covered….and then some.

I tried very hard to pay attention to all of the medical information they were throwing our way. I was more interested though in the 15 other couples we would be going through this process with. We were all going to have ultrasounds and blood work done, passing each other in the waiting room every few days. As the statistics of success were being discussed, I realized that half of us would be pregnant by the end of this, and half of us would not. To boot, 6 of us had a great chance of carrying multiple babies.

Which one would I be???

Monday, February 23, 2009

Overly sensitive or insensitive?

Remember I made a mental note to ask the doctor whether patients brought their kids to appointments? Well I got my answer from the nurse the other day

Bringing Cole to any appointments was not the “best idea” It’s a sensitivity issue” she said politely. I fully get that now, I just needed a polite smack to knock out any selfishness I was experiencing. I take for granted that I have secondary infertility but there are many many couples with primary infertility who do NOT want to see the prize within an arms length reach.

This brings me to the whole “sensitivity” issue. I cannot count the number of times in my life where people have told me to stop being sooooooo sensitive. I care about people, what they are going through and how my actions may affect their lives… I expect the same behavior in return.

Unfortunately life does not seem to work that way and I am learning to manage it. But I wonder…..does infertility make a sensitive person overly-sensitive or are people out there really THAT insensitive?

Example: I was at a baby shower a year ago with Cole. While I was mingling and Cole was playing with the other kids in the room, a lady came up to me and asked if Cole was my only one. I said yes…and with a look of shock on her face she continued with “Do you not want anymore kids?”

Example 2: Comments such as “Cole does not “share” because he doesn’t have any siblings” or “ Just stop thinking about it and you’ll get pregnant”

Example 3: After hosting a wake for a family members death at my home, an extended family member from out of town decided to give her condolences and say thank you in the following way: “It sure would have been nice to have come to see a baby instead……”

How does one answer such a comment? I answered it like this….

Is coming to see Cole not enough? Besides the fact that it was a WAKE!!! And then I kindly showed her the door and have refused any more of her visits.

So my question is this…

Am I being too sensitive? Is the pressure I have placed on myself to have more children translating into misinterpreting potentially innocent comments?........

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Self Diagnosis & Hope

I became chatty with my lab technician at the medical centre down the street from my house. From November 2007-November 2008 it was the same process…

Cycle Day 3-7: Take 2 tablets of Letrozole (the highest dosage available….like I said my ovaries were hibernating!)

Cycle Day 8-19: “try, try, try” You know what I’m talking about.

Cycle Day 20: Blood work at the lab down the street to see if I ovulated

Cycle Day 21-45: At some point I would find out I was NOT pregnant

The amount of money I spent on at-home pregnancy tests during this time is ridiculous. Why could I not have a normal 28-35 day cycle? I was on medication to regulate my cycle for crying out loud!!! The frustration was mounting and cycle days 8-19 started to feel like a third job.

To make matters worse, when I finally saw the doctor to go over my test results from the past 6 months, he smiled and sang” Yay! You had some great ovulations in there!”


Why was I not pregnant? How much sex must a person have!

His response was something no Type “A” personality likes to hear.

I was part of the 1% of women with unexplained infertility

We decided to stay the course and keep trying. There is THAT word again……

Over the next 6 months I tuned into my body like never before. A friend recommended a book called” Taking charge of your fertility” and I ran out and bought it. My bedside table consisted of a digital thermometer, a pen and a notebook filled with daily temperature readings. I also bought some cheap ovulation test sticks online to help hone in on my cycle issues.

I am no doctor, but I know my body and I am 100% positive that I would ovulate around 2-3 days before my period arrived. This is called a luteal phase defect (LPD) A normal luteal phase occurs 12-16 DAYS before your period. An LPD is believed to interfere with the implantation of embryos. I would never get pregnant if this was the case.

Armed with this information, Tim and I needed to weigh the options:
Continue with my current medication ($150 a month) and work on lengthening my luteal phase (more drugs and $$ required) or consider IVF.

We decided to discuss IVF at my next appointment and as I had my final blood sample drawn at the medical centre down the street, I thanked the technician for her wonderful needle skills and her friendly chit chat over the past year.

She smiled and told me to hang in there…….

Oh yeah, and that she was 3 months pregnant….via IVF

Once again…I am not alone, there is hope…..I couldn’t help but smile

Saturday, February 21, 2009

We're Off to see the Wizard!

October 2007:

Walking into the fertility clinic is very surreal…… it’s as if I was transported into the land of Oz! Everyone is very friendly and happy. The waiting room is full of couples holding hands, whispering into each others ears, all hoping the “Wizard” could help them. I should have worn my ruby slippers!

As we found a seat, I got the sense that everyone was checking us out…..wondering if we were also “struggling” in the child rearing department. Primary infertility? Secondary Infertility? Or maybe a gynecology patient? It may sound odd, but when you are sitting in a clinic where there are very few reasons to be sitting there, you begin to play that game. I find myself playing it too these days……

I sat down the first time and thought “there is something missing in here? And then it hit me. There were no pop up books, building blocks, or those bead mazes you see in every doctors office. I wondered……don’t parents ever bring their kid(s) here? What if you had no babysitter?

I made a mental note to ask the doctor.

My primary doctor at the clinic is fantastic, besides being kind of cute, he has a sense of peace about him and I give him an A++ for bedside manner. THANK GOODNESS given he has been, and will be by my side for many many appointments.

We chatted a bit and he went through the general process of infertility and the potential causes. The only way to find out what was going on with me was to do a whack of blood work and also a minor procedure called a Hysterosalpingography (HSG). This is an X-ray procedure used to examine the uterus and fallopian tubes. Contrast dye is injected through the cervix and into the uterus and tubes so that these organs can be seen on an X-ray.

If there is one thing I am learning, it is patience……..this HSG can only be done on certain days of your cycle… you must call the first day of your cycle to try and book it. It took 3 months for me to get that procedure done…..and the results were bittersweet….

The dye went in and flowed right out of my tubes like a well oiled machine. No blockages… why was I disappointed? Was I hoping for a blockage? Something that could be fixed asap? Concrete evidence? This gathering of evidence was taking too long……

I got my wish a few days later when my bloodwork returned…..I was no longer ovulating. Nada, nil, zippo. I honestly felt like a failure, what on earth did I do to make my ovaries hibernate like this? Was I working out too much? Was I unknowingly stressed? Was I missing a key nutrient in my diet?

While I went into “project ovulation” mode….juicing yams, carrots and apples every morning, doing more yoga and less running, avoiding stressful people in my life…I got a nice little envelope in the mail from the clinic. While the Tin Woodman wanted a heart, and the Cowardly Lion wanted some courage, I received an answer to my request…..

A nice little prescription for ovulation induction - Letrozole………

The road seemed to be a bit more golden than it had before………

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Elusive "EGG"

After a year of trying for #2, and knowing I had 4 months before I could get in to see my family doctor, I decided to take matters into my own hands…

Maybe, I could pinpoint my ovulation week!! Instead of just relying on cycle days and bodily changes, I could get concrete info! My big brain (as my hubby so sweetly calls it) does not like to just let things be…. I like to turn easy breezy tasks (you know which ones I am talking about!) into scheduled projects! I figured that if I went pee on a stick everyday and put it into a machine, that the machine would tell me when I was most fertile. No more guessing game…..No problemo!

After reading reviews like “I was pregnant after only 2 months!” I decided to invest in a digital fertility monitor. $300 for the monitor and $60 for one months supply of pee sticks (yikes!) but I was gung ho…I was already thinking of which month I would end up having the baby and whether it would coincide with any weddings or trips…slow down girl….if you only knew then what you know now!

Month 1……not much action was happening. The “egg” sign which is supposed to pop up on the monitor when you are ready to ovulate within 24 hours never showed its face. No worries! Maybe I was doing something wrong..

Month 2…..same deal only this time the egg showed up…..yeehaa!!! Wait a minute though, Tim is out of town for 3 days…..DANG!!!

Month 3… egg

Month 4…..the egg, that elusive egg was back…..yes!!!! Hubby home…check…….this is it, this IS the month!!!

Well as we all know, month 4 was NOT the month but the doctors’ appointment could not have been timelier.

The doctors’ visit was an intense 5 minutes…..

Doctor: have you been trying to conceive for while?
Me: yes, a year now
Doctor: ok, given that, I will refer you to the fertility clinic.
Me: Thank you


Whatever…., I realize it’s a referral process, keep the flow steady…still annoys me though. Patience is not my forte.

My fertility monitor, while it was never able to catch my elusive egg, did recently sell on EBAY for $100 USD. That money will put a tiny dent in the overall cost of this process. I certainly hope its new owner has better luck with it than I did. But all is not lost, that monitor did provide some very useful information for me………

Where the heck were my eggs??

Thursday, February 19, 2009

4 years to get to HERE?

4 years ago I became a mom…

Did I ever think the beautiful baby boy we had would be our one and only? No, not a chance. I took for granted that I could, and WOULD! have at least 3 or 4 kids. Heck, I spent most of my life trying NOT to get pregnant and now I have free reign over it! Yipee! Bring on the unprotected sex!

Yet here I am over 4 years later and no more kids.

This is a blog about my journey to become a mom again. I hope you can join me for the ride, good or bad, I am willing to share. Are you willing to listen? If so, let’s begin……

Some quick facts on me:

· AGE: 35
· Status: Married almost 9 years to my handsome hubby Tim
· Occupation: Chartered Accountant (I work from home full time)
· Personality type: A. Control freak, task oriented, problem solver…that is ME!
· Kids: Cole, age 4
· Fertile? Not anymore! Hence how I ended up here.

We tried for a year to get pregnant, I was 28 though and in no rush. If it happened, it happened. Secretly pregnancy scared the bleep out of me. Not once had I heard of a good pregnancy story. The weight gain, the swelling, the lack of sleep, the awful birthing stories. I even had a friend with a vein that decided to hang out of her “you know what” during her pregnancy and she had to wear a sling to hold it up!!! True story I swear.

The month we conceived I was so busy working in public practice, putting in 80 hour work weeks that my hubby said one night…can we have sex at least once this month! Pleeeeese! So I caved… and voila, that was all it took!

Pregnancy was great, birth was not so great but guess what, the body heals, and with some serious hardwork and clean eating, the skin tightens up and the weight creeps back down. Life feels normal again, only a thousand times better with little feet running around the house!

Cole was a great baby, slept through the night from 5 months on…I had my mommy groups and worked from home… was perfect so let’s move home to Winnipeg (from Calgary) to be close to family and try for number 2!!! Yipee!

That move took place 3 years go this May and over the past few months I have begun to think about this process and what is at stake. I realized that Cole will be heading to kindergarten in September, and I will be alone in the house. No more lazy mornings at the library picking out books for the week… the house will be quiet. While that may be appealing to some, it is not to me.

So I am not willing to pursue those thoughts any longer. In September when my little guy ventures off to new and exciting adventures, I hope…….no I WILL be home with a growing belly and temporary peace and quiet…