Sunday, September 14, 2014

Pieces of Me... IUI Cycle #4, in Photos

"The most difficult times cause you to grow the most." 

So we all know round 4 of IUI failed, and we are taking a break from fertility treatments for a bit. 

A break from medications that make me feel crazy, give me intense headaches, and make me miserable. A break from self-injections and facing my needle fears. A break from taking these meds at a specific time each night, no matter our life plans (Thankfully I was able to do all while home so far, but if we kept going this month, I would have had to do an injection at the Shakespeare festival, I would have had to miss the first day of school, and who knows what else). A break from driving 50 mins to the clinic multiple times, all between the hours of 7 and 8 am. If a school morning, that means getting up at 5, leaving by 5:45 to ensure I arrive at the clinic around 6:35 to try and be the first person (1st come, 1st serve- they open at 7), so I can leave no later than 7:20 and drive 50 mins to work and pray I make it in time. Doing the walk of shame and walking into school at the same times as the kids, or even 1-2 mins later is a very stressful situation, as I am usually one of the first people at school, a whole 20-30 mins before we need to contractually be there. A break from wishing my life away in 2-week increments. Each cycle was measured by 2 weeks that I wanted to fly- the first two to fly so IUI time could arrive... the 2nd two to fly so I could see if I was pregnant or not. The whole summer was that way, and now it's long gone, a distant memory. 

A break from stress. A time for Scott & I to rebuild our relationship and focus on US... Just the two of us, and nothing else. Only things that serve us and make us happy (individually and together). 

Almost a month after the last failed cycle, I've experienced all kinds of crazy emotions. Denial. Anger. Near-depression. Frustration. Deep sadness. Confusion.... then finally acceptance and positivity. Positivity that we will be okay. We can take this time to build on ourselves and become better as a couple. Take time to have fun and kind of start over again. Not letting this ridiculous infertility ride define us and consume us like it was. Learning to not take every coincidence as a sign of something certain. A rainbow is just that, a really cool sight and something beautiful in the sky. It doesn't mean a positive pregnancy test is happening right now. Hopefully it's coming, but I can't allow myself to be all-consumed by the coincidences in life. Smile at them, acknowledge them, and then let them float on by. 

Anyone that knows me, knows I take a ZILLION photos... really. Sometimes a zillion in one day. haha. I drive my friends and family crazy with the things I take pictures of, I've been the selfie queen since before the selfie trend was even a thing. I've documented each IUI process in pics, (meds, things I've done, day of, etc.) hoping each time would be THE time, and I could keep these pics as souvenirs and memories of the journey. But each time it fails, I'm asked what I'll do with the pics. Keep them or trash them? I can't part with pics of anything, so for now they're all stored on my phone or computer. Maybe some day I'll share them all, but I thought I would def share those of this past cycle because it was the most intense. 5 nights of injections, and much more. 

So, here we go... a recap of the 4th and most recent IUI process, in photos. They're all in order, from pretty much the whole month of August. Enjoy! 

Welcome to the big leagues... Meds, meds, and more meds... 1st time getting the monster sharps container~ EEEK!! 

Rx of Femarra (Letrozole)... Headache city. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I actually tolerated Clomid better in terms of physical effects and moods.

Motherload of Sharps containers... No hiding this bad boy!

Gonal-F Redi-ject pen... Follicle Stimulating Meds. 4 nights of this!!! 

A sign from my mama sits on our kitchen windowsill, as a great reminder. :)

Day 1 of injections~ Here we go!! 

HAHAHA!!!! It's true... Now this isn't just a fun Zumba/dancing song, it's my anthem for getting pumped up before injections!!! #loser 

This bad boy is empty... One step down. 5 pills done.

I was feeling pretty excited about keeping my toned muscles that I worked so hard for prior to this cycle.... *Spoiler alert: Little did I know those freaking meds and my emotions would cause me to gain those pounts right back, faster than I took them off. (*Sigh*). No pic now, it's just chub-a-lub. But this is motivation. :) I'm working on getting it back. Don't judge- I'm little, 5-10 pounds can make or break me and the way my clothes fit. 

Self-explanatory. Our rainbow will come. 

Some sources of inspiration... my good luck charms. 

Up-close look at the Gonal-F needle... Really tiny, I know. It honestly isn't that bad. But every time I see this and have to stick it in my belly, I scream and shout inside, and it makes me super nervous!

Day 2~ Gotta laugh it off. Only fair. 

Heard this is a good fertility food (drink). So, drinking a glass each day became a part of my routine. I love pom-flavored stuff, but man this stuff is strong. 

Not a fertility food... but a HIGHLY recommended emotional/Happy food! :) 
DELICIOUS stuff... every flavor is simply incredible!

HAHAHA.... A little inside humor with the TTC girls and guys, as they are probably the only ones who know the meaning of this. ;)

Amen.... And silly us. "Insurance covers unlimited IUI..." This is only partially true. We realized that we still had to dish out between $1,000 and $1,500 a cycle. Don't get me wrong, I am incredibly thankful my insurance plan covers the bulk of it. But here's what's NOT covered and what we spent each cycle: *
*1 Vial of sperm (2 needed on hand each cycle, 1 as a backup): approx. $750
*$20 copay each visit (blood draws, ultrasound, etc)- approx. $60+
*Sperm thaw: $75
*IUI copay: $25
*Co-pay on all meds: $50+
*Acupuncture: $100/visit (about 3-4 visits a cycle)
...Not to mention all the money we dished out on Scott's urologist appointments, surgery, procedures, semen analyses, blood draws, follow-ups, testosterone treatments, etc. 

*This is in no way a plea for help. We are financially stable and I'm so fortunate Scott is so money conscious, smart, and thrifty! If I was in charge, we would surely be in debt. Let's just say I like to spend money. :( I am getting better though!! :) :) 

So, a break from IUI also means SAVING MONEY!!! :) :) YAY!

I try to turn anything into a photo-op! :) 
Attaching a new needle cap to my injection pen. 

Day 3! Getting better each time! Becoming a pro!! :)

Amazing book I started reading during cycle 3, in July. The Two Week Wait.
I recommend it, even to you naturally fertile people. It's a good read. :)

Day 4!! :) Grow, follicles, grow!
(I went for an ultrasound that morning~ they initially said 3 days of shots, but the Dr. wanted my 2 follicles to grow one more day. So another round of shots it was!)

Fingers crossed!! Please let this work.
*Photo-bombed by Kokopelli, fertility god.
(I don't think he likes me too much)

Trigger shot time! My old buddy, Ovidrel. I had done this shot 3x before. Piece of cake each time!

Even though I had been the most used to this shot... I FREAKED this time. It was about 4x as much liquid than the ones I had done earlier in the week, so suddenly it seemed way harder! I also had to jab myself almost twice because I tensed up and it didn't go in at first. 

Stick a fork in it~ that's a wrap!! At the time, I was celebrating and hoping this was THE last time I would need any injections for the baby-making process... #fool. Shame on me. But pretty cool pic of all the needle and needle caps. 

Scott is my rock. He's been SO good on shot nights, Every. Single. Time. 
Always patient with me. Always supportive. Thank you. <3 

Holding the Ovidrel and ready for go time.
Super freaked out! But these pics pump me up and make me feel strong. 
(See the bloat kicking in... damn you, meds. I miss my semi-flat stomach)

*~* A little advice. *~*

*IUI DAY... on the road to Norwalk, CT at like 6:30am*

*Go-time!! "Just keep swimming..."
The procedure itself takes literally 2 minutes. Then you lay there for about 5 mins, and you're good to go. 

Rocking my new custom #TeamRicci tank... <3 <3


Fresh pineapple & pineapple core is always a staple for the first 5 days of the two-week wait. The core is said to have an enzyme that makes your uterine lining somewhat sticky, helping the embryo attach. I love pineapple anyway, so always figured it couldn't hurt.

One of my closest friends (and coworkers- lucky me!!) painted sand dollars with her son while on vacation in FL (during our two-week wait... little did she know), and she painted the one on the left in honor of Scott & I, and the rainbow baby we are so patiently waiting for. Love you, Jess! <3 #blessed

During the 2-week wait, it's best to stay busy!! I spent a weekend at my aunt's house in Long Island, hanging with some of my fav cousins. 2 of them surprised me with this new addition to my Alex & Ani collection, because it's a symbol for fertility. Thanks Janine & Britt, I love you guys! <3

A few days later came the Big, Dark storm cloud. I felt like Eeyore with a cloud following me wherever I went. I was not my usual perky, positive self... 

Totally how I felt. Like I (we) hit rock bottom. 

My cousin, Heather, sent me this in a text. I know she LOVES Starbucks and shopping... so this was super cute and sweet! <3

EXACTLY how I felt... Grrrrr. Screw you, baby Nazi. 

My sweet, sweet, friend, Gemma (an IG sis from Australia!) sent me this as a wonderful reminder and pickup. It really sums it all up perfectly. We have been trying to be parents for just about THREE YEARS soon... and a lot of friends are becoming new parents, having more kids, getting pregnant right away, and I keep feeling left behind in the dust. BUT, it's not how far we still have to go, it's where we've come from, what we know now, and how we'll move forward with it. 

My horoscope 2 days after knowing the cycle failed... Ironic how spot on it was. 
By this time, I had realized that the blessing in disguise was putting everything else on hold, throwing it all in the backseat, and focusing on my relationship with Scott. It's like this is what we needed in order to not lose ourselves together. 

We had a BBQ with some close friends, already scheduled. The last thing I wanted to do was be around anyone, but I allowed myself to drink a lot and just feel the emotions. My BFF, Alli (& her hubby/daughter) brought us these beautiful flowers. Nothing like some best friends to show support. It turned out to be just what I needed. 

My lesson in all of this. Scott is the one who will always be there, front and center, for it all. 15 years strong, it's always been, and always will be, just the two of us. Even after we've had our baby(babies) and they've grown and moved on, Scott is the one who will, God-willing, be there at the end of the day. LOVE comes first. All you need is Love~ Love is all you need. 

I have been blown away by the support circle around US (me~ a lot has been focused on me, which I think is only human nature. Scott feels a little left out at times when things are geared only to me and not us, or to him, as we are experiencing this together). With that being said, there still has been a lot of amazing support, for both of us/and for me. Regardless of what kind it is, it's been 1000000% appreciated and all unexpected. 

One day, I came home to this gem in the mail. A little package and sweet note from my sister-in-law. It's upside-down in the pic, but it's an angel wing. "Everyone should have an angel wing", to protect and watch over us, and to bring good luck. It's hand-crafted and is from her friend's gift shop in FL. 

Came across this and my heart just breaks for Scott whenever this happens. He has SUCH a big, caring heart, and a special spot for kids. My heart is so full seeing him with our friends' kids, or with nieces/nephews, but man does it also break at the same time. I want nothing more than to be able to give him a baby of our own. It still doesn't seem fair that we can't make babies together, but I have to keep hoping that this is his super power. His amazing heart will allow him to accept and love our baby, no matter its biological makeup. 

Amen. Pure truth. Nothing more. 
We fight hard for our marriage. We don't always see eye to eye. We argue. We have ups and downs. But at the end of the day, we are so in love with each other and want nothing else. That's commitment. <3

Knock me down, but I always get up. Fall down 7 times, get up 8. 

Whether that rainbow is in the form of a baby or a stronger, happier marriage (or both!), I know we'll be okay in the end. 

This was always a song I LOVED from the instant I first heard it (on the USA gymnastics team commercial for the summer olympics 2 years ago), and I always thought it would be THE perfect pregnancy song "I'm gonna make this place your home" (as in, my uterus... haha).  As much as that will still apply when the time comes, I'm now applying it to Scott & me. Sticking together and making our marriage our home. Staying together as we roll down this crazy, winding, sometimes scary road. 

Finally.... CRAZY, HAPPY, ZUMBA. I started it over 4 years ago, and even though I'm not as 100% into it like I was when I started, it's still my first love when it comes to exercise and fitness. It gave me confidence, rhythm, burns crazy calories, and makes me happy to dance like a fool. No more being held back from working out by fertility meds and taking forced breaks. That only got me extra chub in my problem areas (trust me, I have them). Time to get back to me. Stress relief. Fun. Movement. 

The End... for now. :) 

No comments:

Post a Comment