Sunday, January 26, 2014
Cleared for Takeoff!!
I'm sure most of you have figured out by now that Scott is an occasional guest blogger on here. He chooses a simpler, less fancy, font for his posts, and you can also tell by the way we are talking on who it is. But a quick and easy visual is the font (unless you're reading via email on your iPhone (like Amy! hehe) then you have to tell from context clues... or the length of the post, to tell if it's me or Scott.
So, let's see... quick recap to get you up to date, and then onto some exciting news.
Just after Scott's 31st birthday a few weeks ago, he got the devastating news that there is indeed no sperm production going on down there. Although we somewhat expected this, you can never really fully prepare for crappy news like that, but we always had the possibility of Plan B in the back of our minds, so we've been able to shift gears pretty quickly there. We will be using a sperm donor moving forward. Scott has complete ownership of the donor selection process, which I felt was something really important for him to be in control of. I will offer support or opinions if asked, but ultimately I want him to be comfortable choosing, and I trust his decisions 100%.
At this point, we are now on the path for donor sperm with IUI, not IVF. The reason we were originally set for IVF is because it would have been needed for sperm issues, to get the embryos fertilized and transferred right to the uterus where they need to be. IUI (intrauterine insemination) essentially inserts the sperm into my reproductive system, through a catheter, in perfect timing for ovulation (with the help of ultrasounds to see when I might be ovulating, and possibly some medicinal help to try and get the perfect timing for the insemination), then we sit and wait and hope they meet up with my egg and make a baby.
I apologize for my lack of good descriptions at the moment, I'm not in a real writer's sense today, but I know if I wait another week, I'll just feel so far behind.
Now that we are starting with IUI rather than IVF, I needed to have a mandatory procedure to ensure my tubes were clear and that no blockages were found that could cause complications with IUI. This test is called the Hysterosalpingogram, or HSG for short. The HSG is an X-ray of the uterus and fallopian tubes, with the help of dye contrast, to make sure there are no visible abnormalities, blockages, or any other issues that might make the next step more difficult. I've made the mistake of googling this procedure, like anything else, and have talked to a bunch of people on Instagram who have had this done as well. What I've found is that for the majority, it's not a pleasant procedure and is often painful. There were a handful who had no difficulty with it, and actually some said it was easier than the saline sono hysterogram that I had back in September (a similar test, but mostly checking just the uterus through ultrasound and a saline wash).
I've actually been super afraid of the HSG for a whole year now. Back in January 2013 when we started going through lots of testing to see what the problem was and why we couldn't conceive on our own for a full year, the HSG was suggested at by OB-GYN office. Luckily, the patient coordinator in that office called me and stressed against it. She said it's often uncomfortable, and she always stressed to have Scott checked first because it would be easier, less expensive, and less invasive. Don't get the HSG unless you need to, she said. I'm so thankful for that advice. If I had gotten it then, I would have needed it again now bc of the time that passed, and I can almost guarantee I would have had a worse experience there... just a hunch. So, I'm thankful for that piece of advice last year, but it still had me spooked about needing it in the first place.
I was hyping myself up for quite some time, so tried thinking of a bright side. All I could come up with is 1) It's for a good cause (our future family) and 2) it could be worse... it's way quicker and way less invasive than the procedures that go along with IVF (daily shots of hormones, egg retrievals, etc). I have SOOO much respect and admiration for all the women I know undergoing those difficult procedures. They are all strong warriors and I admire them so much. I can only hope that if I should have to go down the IVF path too, that I can pull strength from them and be half as strong as they have been.
Trying to calm my nerves is a near impossible feat, and I couldn't stop freaking out about the HSG. In comparison to what Scott went through, it doesn't even compare. He had 35(ish) needles poking and prodding his most sensitive area... and took it like a champ!! I, however, am certainly not that strong, but I knew I had no choice. The saline sono was NO walk in the park for me~ if you remember, it took 3 tries for the Dr to get the catheter into my cervix, which was sooooo uncomfortable. It extended the time of the procedure, taking about 25 mins in the end, when it was supposed to be 10-15. THAT procedure was supposed to be easy, and I felt awful. I'm sure being tense, scared by myself, and unprepared, didn't help, but it was what it was, and the suggested Ibuprofen they told me to take an hour before, to help the cramping, did nothing for me. I was in discomfort for days after, and it just wasn't something I ever want to repeat again. So, again, I was freaked for the scarier, evil step-sister procedure, and asked if I could have something stronger than Ibuprofen again.... THANKFULLY they said yes, and a dose of Valium would be prescribed to take an hour before go-time. Wahoo!! That took the fear factor down a notch, mayyyybe 2.
I went in for the procedure this past Wednesday, and took my Valium exactly an hour before. Scott had the day off (even though I was dragging him with me anyway!) and drove each way, especially because of the meds. I wasn't sure if they had kicked in because I didn't feel any different and was still really nervous on the way there. I told Scott I didn't feel any different, but he said he was sure it had already kicked in. Apparently I had just told him a story about school, and I said it in a very calm, clear, focused manner (normally I ramble on, jump around, and am just pretty out there). I kind of took offense and joked I should be on valium all the time in order to become a better speaker, but oh well. I just wanted it to relax me and/or make me not notice all the pain that I was sure was coming. The horror stories had me prepped thinking I was going into a torture chamber to undergo 20-30 mins of the worst pain before labor... I was fully relying on the valium to do its trick!
We got to the clinic, signed in, and then went down to the radiology office. I knew from a friend that Scott couldn't come in because the room is so small/tight, so I was already prepped to have to be brave there. The nurse brought me back, helped me get ready, and she told me it would be quick and easy, less than 10 mins. I told her how nervous I was, and that I had taken the meds. She told me I was in great hands with our clinic's doctors, and that I shouldn't have bothered going on Google, that I would be fine. The doctor came in, told me he'd talk me through it all, and that I'd do great. I was bracing myself for the worst, kept talking so he knew I was ok, and before I knew it, he was saying 'Ok, the hard part is over!". .... What? Are you sure? No way... I maybe felt 5-10 seconds of pressure that I was prepping to yoga-breathe through, and then it was gone. Up to this point, it was maybe all of 3 mins, and I felt nothing but the bit of pressure. The "easy part" was the x-ray tech moving a giant machine over me, looking at a screen above my head, and then the Dr saying "all clear~ your tubes are clear.. You have beautiful tubes! You did great! It's all done!" .... Hmmm, quite an odd & funny compliment, but in this case, I'll take it!! I was sooo baffled that it was over, and giggly from the meds, that I just kept saying "no way! That was so easy". It took all of 5 mins from start to finish... I couldn't believe it. The nurse smiled at me and said "I think you could have done it without the Valium". Maybe she's right, but the fact that it relaxed me so my nerves didn't tense up and complicate the process was fine by me.
I still keep wondering how the HSG was lightyears faster and way easier than the saline sono. A few friends on Instagram had similar experiences too, and it's baffling to me, but nothing I can do to fix that. I keep wondering if my experience was so good because everything is all clear (plus the meds are a definite factor!). If I had some blockages, abnormalities, or misshaped tubes, I think that's where the difference comes in. The dye can't reach those areas as easily, it could take longer, it could cause more cramping... who knows. Whatever the case, I am extremely grateful that we have been cleared for takeoff!! We start IUI soon!!
Because the Dr who did the HSG was not our actual RE, we have to go back to meet with her for an IUI consult. That appointment is scheduled for this Tuesday afternoon. I have to leave work early, so there goes another week at school without disruption, but I have waited so long for this, that I have to put my family first and stop worrying about work. I am the type who only takes off when I need to, and my best friend just told me something along the lines of "at the end of the day, no one ever wished they spent more time at work". The days are there for a reason, and I shouldn't feel bad about missing work to start my family. I may have to come clean with the parents in my class, I've been contemplating it~ I'm open about it anyway!~ so that they don't start their own rumors of why I'm starting to be out so much. I'd rather them have the real story than make up their own and start giving me a hard time over it. Luckily everyone so far has been great, but it's something I've had on my mind every time I have to take a full or half day for appointments. We've waited this long, and come so far, that I'm not letting anything stop us from getting pregnant this year.
So the next step is a consult Tuesday to learn about the process, and then I'm almost certain we can start with next month's cycle!! EEEKK!! It's becoming a reality and it's like starting to try for a baby all over again. We are both super excited about the possibility of a positive pregnancy test in a few months. Prayers would be greatly appreciated!! It's been a long road and we are nowhere near being out of the woods just yet... this isn't guaranteed to work, but it sure would be nice!! IUI is also much cheaper than IVF, so we are able to breathe a bit more financially too. My Origami Owl side job has been doing really well for fundraising (thanks to all who have placed orders so far!), and we've been saving. So I feel a little more comfortable at the moment, and now we just would love for IUI to be the answer, and the thing that works. I'm not expecting it to work on the first try, but within the first few sure would be nice!! Prayers for a smooth ride, a positive and lasting, healthy pregnancy, and a healthy child is all we want.
Here's to #teamricci becoming a family in 2014!!! <3 <3