Saturday, September 21, 2013

Updates & The Final Quarter of The Waiting Game

It's all about perspective. Staying calm, staying positive, and rolling with the punches. Just go with it. This mentality has been my way of life for a while now (thanks to some inspirational family/friends) and it's what I know. My dad always said "Positive things happen to positive people.", and my mom always reminds me to think positively and keep my head up. So I do. Things get me down easily and I will complain like there's no tomorrow about some things initially, but when the dust settles, it really comes down to living with a positive mindset for me, or I would just be a miserable and depressed person 24/7. I know it seems as though I live with my head in the clouds sometimes a lot, but it works for me. I'm a natural worrier, I'm a dreamer, yet I'm also realistic about things when I need to be. I keep balance, in true Libra fashion. And I refuse to live through life with a negative mindset because I truly believe that will just get you absolutely nowhere... except being alone, bitter, and miserable. 

With that being said, I refuse to sink and refuse to give up as we move forward into the next chapter of our baby journey. I have to keep a positive mindset going into the next few months because it matters now more than ever. There are bound to be pitfalls, crappy test results, lots and lots of doctor bills, and lots of tears and days I won't want to get up and go to work... BUT I need to push through and carry on because it's the only way to get to our goal in the end. Nothing worth having comes easily without some form of struggle or challenge (ok, maybe it appears to happen easily and without struggle for some people, but don't let the facade fool you, everyone struggles sometimes, somewhere, somehow). The challenge is what makes the end result all the more worthwhile. I know there will be tough days ahead, but I'm prepping myself to not give up. I know it will be tough and very difficult in the months ahead, but I refuse to give up or give in.

I'm loving this quote and starting to believe it more and more. 
You can plan and dream all you want, but life is what happens when you're busy making other plans. Curveballs will be thrown in here and there, and it's all how you roll with it. It will all be okay in the end, some day. I'm starting to see the bigger picture more and more, and realizing some good reasons why it's actually okay that we haven't gotten pregnant yet. It's allowing different opportunities to come up and present themselves, and it's all kind of exciting. It all gives me hope that down the road, we can look back and feel comfort that this journey molded us for the better and changed us in good ways.... As long as there is a child somewhere in the next 10 years before we are 40 please! :p

Okay, onto the updates. Sorry, we all know I ramble A LOT. Last week was a big information-gathering week. 

So here's the scoop...

Remember Scott's surgery in May to remove the varicocele? We had to wait 4-6 months before checking for any swimmers (sperm) for a Team Ricci swim team... that's the earliest anything would have shown up because it can take that long for sperm to produce and show up in a test. Well, we just made it to the 4 month mark! Yay! So, Scott had a post-op check-up with the urologist on September 9th. They did an ultrasound to check on the varicocele and that showed that it's completely gone, so that is exciting, but it's a small victory because that was only half of the issue. Unfortunately, the checkup showed that there are still no sperm currently. So even though the varicocele is gone, it doesn't necessarily solve or fix the problem because it didn't help with sperm production. Scott's testosterone level is still very low, so I think that's showing the Klinefelter's (chromosomal issue) is holding us back and stopping production. Scott is bummed and feels like the surgery was done for nothing, but it's good it was removed anyway because they had to rule it out and at least see if it worked. So now, the next step is to go back in November (which would then be the 6-month mark) and repeat the tests again to see if there is a change. If so, we are obviously good to go, and if not, they will do a biopsy to hunt for some stubborn swimmers in hiding. 

Even though we didn't get great results, we did get the results we were expecting, and got a glimmer of excitement at the end of the visit. We were realistic and didn't expect to see a change just yet. I am holding out hope for one of the November checks, specifically the biopsy. Scott doesn't think there will be any regardless because of the testosterone levels. But I'm holding out hope and praying, so we can't give up yet. I asked the Dr what would happen after November, regardless of Scott's results. This is the exciting part... regardless of the results (obviously hoping on the best for Scott, but prepared otherwise), we can still move forward with fertility treatments around December or January. To me that is super exciting. 

So, the way I see it, there are 3 possibilities in November...

1. If sperm show up, we proceed with IVF asap. (least likely, but possible)

2. If still no sperm, they will do sperm mapping/retrieval (biopsy) and proceed with IVF if they find any. (PRAYING!!)

3. If no sperm in both checks, we have to throw in the towel and move to selecting a sperm donor and go on to possibly IUI instead of IVF. *Side note to possibility #2, if they find just a few with Scott, we could potentially do IVF with some of Scott's and some of a donor's as backup (like if there weren't enough to fertilize all retrieved eggs with 1, we can supplement the donor sperm with the others). 

Prayers would be greatly appreciated to find something useful in November. It only takes 1, although a few more would be nice! 

The super exciting news here is that EITHER WAY, with either possibility, we can proceed in December/January!!! It all would depend on my cycle, so let's just say January to be on the safe side... but still, that's just a few months away until we can get in the game. Also means only a few more months to save, as IVF is really expensive and not covered one bit by our insurance. But, it's still very very exciting to feel that we can be out of the initial waiting game and jump into the next step. 

The same week Scott had his checkup, I had started my next cycle and had to meet with our RE (fertility doctor) again. She wanted to perform a saline infusion sonohysterogram (SIS), which essentially is a procedure to make sure my uterus would be a good home to hold a future pregnancy. It's the lesser of the two evils, when compared to a hysterosalpingogram (HSG), which involves the fallopian tubes as well and is said to be very painful by a lot of people. I knew I needed it before moving onto IVF, and the reason I don't need the HSG (yet) is because IVF bypasses the tubes completely, so there's no need to check on them. IF we ever move away from IVF and go to IUI (intra-uterine insemination, or "artificial insemination"), I will need the HSG because then they would need to know the condition of my tubes. As crazy as it sounds, I'd rather stick myself with needles daily for IVF than get the HSG from what I hear about it, and after my experience with the SIS. Thinking about either makes me want to cringe though. 

Ok, back to the saline sonogram, which I needed to have. This was done in the Danbury office of our clinic, which is about an hour from work, so I took a half day last Friday. Scott couldn't switch days off since we had his appointment earlier the same week, so I took a half day and went alone. The staff assured me it was nothing to worry about, so I didn't think twice about going alone. They told me to take ibuprofen about an hour before and that I would just experience some mild cramping. No biggie. I am a nervous nelly when I go to any Dr. visit, but I was feeling calm and collected, surprisingly. It was my first time at this office, since when we initially met our RE back in March, it was at a closer office they usually use just for initial consults. One of my best friends uses our clinic, too, and she loves the staff there, so I knew it would be a comfortable visit. My first impression of the office was great. When I arrived, I was the only patient in the waiting room for a good 15 minutes, and the receptionist welcomed me, was SO sweet and friendly, and made me feel right at home.  I also noticed some Kokopelli art hanging on the wall, and instantly smiled because he's been one of my good luck charms through this journey, thanks to another friend! 

Kokopelli~ a Fertility God
When I was called back with the nurse, she reminded me that it was a pretty simple procedure and there would just be some mild cramping. Essentially, "Saline infusion sonohysterography (SHG or SIS) consists of imaging the uterus and uterine cavity using ultrasonography where sterile saline is instilled into the uterine cavity. The purpose of sonohysterography is to detect abnormalities of the uterus and endometrial (uterine lining) cavity." I knew all this and wasn't worried, plus I knew it should take about 5-10 minutes. Being Friday the 13th, things couldn't have gone perfectly or that just wouldn't be how things typically play out for me. The saline and iodine are injected through a thin catheter inserted into the uterus, and there was an issue somehow with getting the catheter into my cervix, and the Dr. had to take everything out and try again like 3 times. Let's just say this wasn't the most comfortable experience and the catheter hurt more than I had imagined. I'm thinking there's an opening and a thin tube, no problem. Yea, not so much. Thin tube that you can feel poking inside your uterus, when nothing has been in there before, OUCH. Getting nervous, feeling uncomfortable, and now worried that it's not going to work also don't help for trying to stay calm, relaxed, and breathe through it. On a good note, thankfully, the Dr. and nurse were both extremely apologetic and sympathetic, they felt badly that I was basically having the procedure done almost 3 times because it wasn't working smoothly. But luckily, finally it worked, they did their thing, took some ultrasound pics to get some measurements and a clear view of my uterus, and then we were done. Eeek. All in all, it was about 15 minutes, but it was 15 uncomfortable minutes and I was holding back tears bc of the unexpected discomfort due to the complications and the fact that I wished Scott was able to go with me (not his fault, I didn't even think I needed him). Just thankful everything looked clear and I don't need to do that again.... And this is why I'm fearful of the HSG, because this was supposed to be easy and it wasn't something I would ever want to do again, thanks to my uncooperative reproductive parts. Ouch. 

As if that weren't enough trauma for one day, the RE reminded me that I was also scheduled to do blood work for all of my genetic makeup.... Oh joy! I had started the week with blood work to make sure I wasn't pregnant (Duh) before they did the SIS, so I had already been poked in my left arm and that was still slightly bruised. The problem was, I didn't remember about the blood draw and had barely drank water that day, so I was very dehydrated and began to panic, thinking it would be hard to find a vein and this would hurt too. All I wanted to do was be home in my PJs and snuggling with Scott. But being forced to be a big girl, I sucked it up and had no choice but to go with it. Looking back, it may have been a blessing Scott wasn't there, because it forces me to be more independent when it's just me, and when I'm nervous, I tend to be more chatty. I'm also chatty when I'm comfortable with others, and the nurse really was super sweet and personable from the start. So I started warning her that I hadn't drank and that I was a big baby when it came to needles, so I was kicking myself for not drinking more to make it easier to find a vein. She said not to worry and that it would be fine. I looked the other way, we made a deal that she wouldn't even warn me before the needle, and she kept me distracted by talking. I have to say, she was ROCK STAR because she got the vein immediately, I didn't feel a thing, and she made me feel very relaxed so that it went very smoothly. I actually look forward to using this clinic when the time comes for multiple blood draws and ultrasounds during future IVF cycles. If she's there all the time, or all the nurses are that good, it might actually make my fear of needles disappear real fast! 

I then met with the RE again for an IVF consult. She went over all the steps of the IVF process, what happens, and what to expect. Thank you to all my new friends on the TTC world of Instagram, because I have learned SO much from you all, that I can honestly say I was already very familiar with every step of the process. We talked about the possibility of needing donor sperm and we can actually start selecting that as soon as we are ready to, so that we have it as a backup and all picked out, so we don't waste any more time after November. I also met with a lot of the other staff at the clinic, like the patient coordinator and RN that will be assigned to us, along with the financial coordinator. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming, and they truly made the whole experience seem much easier. It was a very overwhelming visit in a lot of ways (physically and emotionally), and when I finally made it back to my car, I cried for about a minute just because it was a lot to take in and Scott and I were both sad that he couldn't be there. But there are more important things for him to come to later on, so we will focus on all of that for now. The important thing is that the clinic was great, the staff is amazing, and I know that we are in really good hands with them. 

So now we continue to wait, but I'm not wishing it all by as you might think. It's not that far away, and this is the final quarter of the waiting game. Fall is a great time of year, ESPECIALLY in New York (and especially in the Hudson Valley where we live), and I want to enjoy every minute of it. I don't want it to rush by (I kind of hate winter), and I'm confident that this is how things were meant to pan out. I don't know what results November will bring, or which route we will have to take from there, but we will walk down that road when we get there. 

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