Friday, November 30, 2012

Another Date with the Dildo Cam

I had another check-in with ole' Dr. B yesterday.

Let's start with the good stuff, shall we?
  • According to his scale, I'm officially down 10 pounds! For once it was nice to see his scale match up with my scale at home. 
  • I had another date with the dildo-cam (that's not the good part,) and my ~3 cm cyst on my right ovary is almost gone. Now I just have several cysts on both ovaries that are 1 cm or less. Woohoo progress! 

Now the not as good as the "good stuff," stuff:
  • My insulin levels are down in the normal range (woot!) but are at the high end of normal (boo) which is why Dr. B increased my Metformin. He wants to get them in the normal end of normal...or something like that. 
  • My cholesterol is indeed higher than it needs to be, but nothing to be super worried about ("normal" for my age range is 189 (units) and I was at 192 (units.) As Keegan so nicely pointed out, it probably wasn't the best idea to get blood drawn the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. I'm officially blaming my cholesterol spike on the turkey, rolls, mashed potatoes and pie I ate. All things I shouldn't eat, but in my defense, it was Thanksgiving. 
  • I am now on a low-carb, low-fat diet. I'll do a post specifically dedicated to this, but at a quick glance, it looks like I can eat salad.....and that's about it. I can't eat peanut butter anymore!
  •  We talked to Dr. B about actively starting and he's not 100% for it quite yet. He told me that my best chance of conceiving naturally is the three months after I go off birth control. Apparently it takes an average of 3 months for women's bodies to get used to this specific birth control (this is the reason I had a 6 week period last month.) Since I'm now halfway through my third pack, Dr. B thinks that my body is just now getting used to the birth control. He suggests that I continue the BC for at least another three months to really get my body used to having a regular cycle again and that after those three months, the next three will be our best chance of conceiving naturally. 
  • However, he said that if we didn't want to wait for another three months, we could start trying at the end of this pack of BC. He suggests that we use ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) to see if/when my body ovulates. I told him that I've been taking my basal body temperature (BBT) every day and he thinks that's going a bit overboard for this stage of the game. I'm going to continue doing it however, just so I have another way of telling if/when my body ovulates (or doesn't.) 
So that's pretty much it. In and out in about 30 minutes. I have another appointment with him in 3 months, as well as more blood work to see where my insulin and lipids (cholesterol) levels are. Keegan and I need to talk a bit more and decide when we feel comfortable actively trying with the new knowledge that my next three cycles off BC will be our best chances.

Oh! Anyone have any suggestions for OPKs? We took a quick look at Walmart and saw that 20 of the Walmart brand OPKs run about $20, and 20 of the Clear Blue brand run about $35. I'm considering buying in bulk off of Amazon, but I wanted some advice from ladies who have used OPKs in the past. Anyone suggest one over the other?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Another Possible Setback

As you all know from my hilarious (I know, I know, it wasn't really that funny,) story yesterday, I got blood work done. Usually my doctor waits to tell me the results until we're face to face, so I thought it was strange that his nurse called me today with the results.

First thing, he's upping my Metformin to 1500 mg/day. Honestly, I was expecting this since it seems to be a pretty normal dose around the infertility land. I am, however, going to ask for some medications to help with the nausea that has plagued me every time we've increased my dose. Last time, all I ate was an apple every 3 days or so. I'm not going through that again if I can help it.

The nurse then rattled off some more numbers which I didn't really comprehend until she said...."and your cholesterol is higher than we want, so Dr. B is going to talk to you tomorrow about putting you on a low cholesterol diet."


I just sat there with my mouth opened until I remembered I was on the phone and asked if Dr. B was going to go over all of the test results again with me tomorrow. The nurse confirmed this and we said our good-byes.

Once again, WHAT?!

Please explain to me how all of a sudden, after almost 3 months of dieting, my cholesterol has increased so much that now I have to go on yet another specialized diet (the nurse said "normal" for my age is 189 (units) and I'm at 192 (units.) Doesn't sound like that big of a deal to me, but apparently it is.) I honestly thought I had been doing so well. My at home scale says I've lost 10 pounds in two months, my clothes are fitting better, etc. Even though I slipped a bit during Thanksgiving, I've been doing well with my diet. Eating breakfast (which I used to not do at all,) eating lunch (although this could be better,) and eating a (mostly) well rounded dinner. I haven't had desserts since we've started this shindig! (except for the two cookies at Thanksgiving.)

Honestly, this totally blindsided me. I don't believe that high cholesterol is common in my family (just like infertility isn't), so it looks like I'm the weird one again. I'm just so scared that Dr. B isn't going to give us the okay to start actively trying until I get this under control.

And let's be honest, I'm not excited about this new diet. I'm currently on a high protein, low carb diet, so add in low cholesterol and I'm assuming I'm stuck with eating salads for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Woohoo (can you sense my sarcasm?)

Anyways, I'll have a full update after my appointment tomorrow. Wish us luck that this cholesterol thing isn't going to be a setback.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

So, Funny Story....

At my last appointment, I was told to call the clinic a few days before my next appointment to double check that the nurses had faxed over my lab requests so I could get some blood work done. I was told that I needed to get the blood work done at least 3 days before my appointment. So, the appointment is on Thursday which means that I needed to get the blood work done on Monday, right? Right. So I called the clinic on Friday to remind the nurses to fax my lab requests. Only problem? They were closed due to Turkey Day. Oh well, I decided I'd call as soon as they opened Monday and get the blood work done Monday afternoon.

So, Monday morning at 8 am rolls around and I call the clinic. Nurse has no idea what I'm talking about. Says she needs to talk to the nurse that deals directly with my doctor and they'll give me a call back. The fun part about all this? I have to fast at least 12 hours before I give blood. So here I was, sitting at my computer desk, waiting for the nurse to call me back and staving. So I wait, and I wait.

Around 11, I get a call back from the nurse. She asks me what tests they're going to do which I have no answer for. I told her I assumed that they were checking my insulin levels, but besides that, I didn't know. Since we have terrible cell service at our house, I got about every other word the nurse was saying (and I'm assuming she got the same with me.) The last thing I heard was "If you have any questions, call us back" and a click. The nurse had hung up on me without me knowing if/when they were going to fax over the lab requests. Automatically, I started crying. Not just tears running down my face, but bawling. I was scared that not getting the tests done on Monday would mean that I would somehow mess up my entire next cycle and we wouldn't be able to start trying right away (I didn't say my thoughts were rational!) After settling and beginning to think normally again, I realized that my clinic has an email address and I could just email them my problem (probably something I should have done on Friday while they were closed, but hindsight is always 20/20, right?)

So I send an email explaining my problem and asking the nurse to email or call me back to tell me they had faxed over the lab requests. By this time it was 12:50 and I had a meeting at work at 1:30. I still hadn't eaten, so I run to the kitchen to grab lunch, figuring by now I would have to get the tests done on Tuesday. I open the fridge and realize that Keegan had taken my lunch to work. Great. I look at the clock and figure that I can make it to Wendy's on my way to work. I drive (alright, speed) to Wendy's and order my chicken sandwich with no mayo and fries. I start driving to work, shoveling fries into my mouth. As I open my mouth to eat the third fry, my phone rings. I bet you can guess where this is going, eh? It was the clinic, telling me that they had faxed over the lab requests and that I could go in any time to get the blood work done. Frick! Those three fries and the little bit of soda I had drank was enough to throw my levels off so now I would have to wait until Tuesday.

To top it all off, once I got to work, I pulled out my sandwich and realized they had given me the wrong one. I guess it was the diet gods smiting me for eating fast food!

I ended up fasting again last night/this morning and got my blood work done bright and early this morning, so all's good. Now just to wait until my appointment on Thursday to see how my levels are. If everything checks out, we're going to talk to our doctor about officially starting the TTC process!

Monday, November 26, 2012

All I Seem To Write Are Updates...

Sorry for the silence over at this little slice of the interwebs. Unfortunately, I just don't have a lot to say. Since my last appointment, (about 6 weeks ago,) nothing has really changed. I've still been taking my 1000 mg of Metformin, my daily vitamin, and my birth control as well as a nightly dose of heartburn medicine. I'm not sure what is causing the heartburn, but I've been getting it every night. I'm scared to skip a dose because every time I've taken that risk, I've woken up in the early morning feeling like my esophagus was going to catch on fire. Not fun. At my next doctors appointment on Thursday, I'm going to ask him if he has any idea what's going on.

Speaking of my next appointment, it's going to be a big one. We're going to tell Dr. B that we're ready to start actively trying. Even though Keegan originally said he wasn't comfortable trying to conceive (TTC) until after our one year anniversary, after reading some literature and having a few heart-to-hearts, I think he's realized how difficult this process could be. Due to the fact that with my PCOS causes me not to ovulate, I'm going to have to be put on medications to force my body to release an egg. The most common medications are Clomid and Femara. The only "downside" is that multiples are more common when these drugs are used since the body could release more than one egg at a time. I put "downside" in quotes because Keegan and I would be fine with twins or triplets. However, since pregnancies and births of multiples are more complicated, plus the fact that women with PCOS have a higher chance of miscarriages, it would be a risk and something we'd have to talk more extensively with my doctor about.

On Thursday, I'm going to have another ultrasound to see if the cysts on my ovaries have decreased. If not, I'm assuming that  my doctor will increase my Metformin. If they haven't decreased, or magically increased, I'm not sure if we'll be able to start TTC right away; it all depends on how my body is doing. I'd much rather wait another month or two before starting to ensure that we have the perfect conditions for conceiving.

I've learned that the most frustrating thing about this whole infertility process is the waiting game. Waiting on medications to work, waiting on blood results, waiting on another cycle to start. Waiting, waiting waiting. It can be extremely frustrating at times. Most of the time I feel like I'm not doing anything to "fix" the problem (even though the problem can never truly be fixed.) I am reading books, blogs, articles, anything I can get my hands on to learn more about PCOS and trying to conceive. There's a lot of information out there, and even though every person's body is different, and every couple's situation is different, I have learned a lot and I am able to ask more informed questions.

Another thing I've had to live with is pain. I'm not just talking about physical discomfort (like a 6 week period or the flu-like symptoms the Metformin causes,) but emotional pain. In the last two weeks or so, I've had at least 5 friends and family members announce their pregnancies, 4 of which are expecting their second child. I'm not going to lie, every one of those announcements has hurt. Even though I'm beyond excited for every one of them, it's hard not to ask "why not me?". I see our friends and family's excitement over the announcement and I wonder to myself if I'm ever going to be in their position. Even though we have just started our TTC journey, it's hard not to have those thoughts.

This journey, however, has made me more aware. Aware that maybe the couple that has been married for a few years is also having trouble. Aware that asking questions like "when are you guys going to have kids" can be extremely hurtful for a couple that is dealing with infertility quietly. Aware that maybe the couple that has just announced that they're pregnant have been dealing with infertility treatments for years and are finally rejoicing in a successful cycle. It's also made me more aware of how I say things and how I'm going to say things in the future. When we do get pregnant, if I know that any of my friends are dealing with infertility, I'm going to break the news to them personally. Understand if they don't want to talk to me for a while because it's too difficult. Because I have so many friends and family that live far away, I will update Facebook with progress pictures and eventually pictures of our child(ren), but I'll do it quietly and respectfully because I know how a picture of an ultrasound or rounded belly can hurt. If anything this journey (albeit short) has taught me, is to be cautious. It's not always polite to continue talking about your pregnancy or new baby because you don't know if someone you're close to is struggling and hurting. The same goes with aspects of every day life. Gloating about your promotion while a friend just lost their job. Talking about your new kitchen while a friend is struggling to pay the mortgage. I guess what I'm trying to say is, just be careful about what you talk about and to who. It's fine to be excited about something, but respect other's feelings as well.

So that's what I've been up to. I'll update on Thursday after my doctor's appointment. Hopefully we'll be given the a-okay to actively start trying!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What Does It Take?

So ever since I had sex education class in fourth grade, it's been pounded into my head about how not to get pregnant. Don't have sex until you're ready. Birth control and condoms have a 99.9% "guarantee" but abstinence is the only way to 100% prevent pregnancy. Now that I'm older, married, and starting to think about having a family, it has come to my attention that I don't really know how to get pregnant. 

Don't get me wrong, I had the birds and the bees talk (in Garfield's in front of a cute waiter might I add, but that's another story,) so I know how babies are made. However, I'm not sure how to increase our chances of producing a baby. With all of the problems that have been thrown our way regarding my reproductive parts, when we actually start trying to conceive, I want to give ourselves the best chance possible to conceive naturally. My hopes are that we won't have to use medications or go all the way to IUI or IVF.

Ever since I was young, I was always scared that you could get pregnant at any time during the month. No one told me so, but no one explained differently so I guess I just assumed (and you know what assuming does....) Anyways, research has shown me that there is only a 6 day window in which a woman can potentially get pregnant (that number comes from the lifespan of an egg and sperm.) Of those six days, three of them hold the best possibility to conceive. Three days a month. 36 days a year. If you think about it, that's not many chances. With such a small window of time, and with so many women having complications of some sort that hinder conceiving, it really amazes me that our population is growing at such a steady rate!

So, to try and increase our chances, I have done a few things. As I've explained before, I'm on numerous medications to try and lessen the effect that my PCOS has had on my body. I'm also on a special diet, similar to a diabetics diet, to lose some of the excess weight that my PCOS has caused. Yesterday, I also started charting my cycles. I signed up for Fertility Friend and learned how charting my cycles can show me when I'm ovulating, thus showing us when those vital 3-6 fertile days are. I know that with being on birth control, my cycle is regulated, but I'm using this time before my next doctors appointment to get into the swing of things. It takes a little bit of concentration to wake up and automatically shove a thermometer in your mouth and writing down your temperature before doing anything else. During my next appointment (at the end of November,) I'm going to talk to my doctor about going off the birth control and seeing how my body cycles naturally. I'd like to have a few months of charting my natural cycle under my belt before we actually start trying so that I can predict when those magical 6 days are. (I also want to get off my birth control because it's caused me to bleed for six weeks straight, but that's a different story.)

Even though I'll probably sound stupid, once we decide to start trying, I'm going to flat out ask my doctor how to get pregnant. Obviously I know what it takes, but I want to see if he has any other tips or tricks to increase our chances of conceiving naturally. I'm a person that would rather rely on my own body's signals and natural remedies than to rely on medications, so anything that keeps me off of medications or IVF is worth trying in my book.

It'll be an interesting experience, but one that will be totally worth it.