Remember in my post about IUI #1, I finished with “the nurse said to call my next period, so that we could start again but only to call IF I could do our IUI that month.” Well due to the excess of hormones in my body, my period came way earlier than expected. Which wasn’t the problem, but it came during the beginning half of our two week vacation visiting family in Nova Scotia. I didn’t even bother calling the clinic because the nurse made it very clear that if I couldn’t do the IUI that month, don’t bother calling.
Knowing that by day 9 of our last IUI cycle I had already ovulated, I knew an IUI wasn’t possible this month. I wouldn’t be able to go in for monitoring ultrasounds, and would possibly miss the insemination date, which would be a huge waste of our time and money. Not to mention I had a 3 IUI limit (too much hormones for my body for such a low success rate) before my Doctor said I would have to wait for IVF and I didn’t want to waste one attempt on a no go.
Here is a lesson I have learned. Always (no matter what some stern nurse might tell you) call the clinic just in case. Be provocative, be your own advocate. No one else will. I waited another month only to find out that my Doctor changed my IUI protocol. I would now have to start estrogen patches at the end of this period cycle, then I could start my second IUI cycle the following month. The purpose of the estrogen patch was to plump up my uterine lining but mostly to baseline all my follicles so they can all grow and be stimulated at the same time. This was to avoid having one jump ahead of the rest, which was what happened last time.
I was so frustrated at myself for not taking initiative and calling, because now, I was technically two months behind where I wanted to be. On vacation, I could have come back, started my estrogen patches and only been a month behind. I know in short 2 months is only 2 months, but at this point I wanted a baby 1.5 years ago. I felt discouraged, I already did my time and every slight hiccup along the way can seem so detrimental. Imagine being stuck in a job you hate, and every month, your boss keeps postponing when you get to be promoted to your dream job. That’s what it feels like. Months of misery, slight hope at the upcoming month, only to be delayed again.
It was sometime in late August, I got my cycle, and called the clinic with my day 1. Same ordeal as last time, call, leave a message, have billings call back so you can pay your $850 for the sperm wash, and wait until a nurse calls you back with your medicine protocol.
At some point around here, we realized that there was a high probability that Robbie was going to be away with work during our span of possible insemination days. To be proactive, Robbie went to the clinic to provide a sperm sample that they could freeze, just in case he wasn’t back in time (disclaimer – he was but couldn’t come because he was tasked out). Add another $750 to our bill.
I began my estrogen the morning of September 11 (still 2018 in case I lost you there for a bit), a 100 mcg of estrogen, in the form of a small patch applied to my buttocks, and was under orders to switch it every other day to the alternating cheek. I am usually an emotional person, but this surplus of estrogen made me feel borderline psychotic.
Here are a few of the ridiculous reasons I cried during this time:
- The adhesive was irritating my skin, and I cried because I couldn’t itch my butt cheek
- A cat was found dead in a house after the owners went AWOL (disclaimer – I didn’t know the cat or the owners)
- I didn’t know what I wanted to eat
- I was tired and couldn’t sleep
- I realized how sad the lyrics really are to You are my Sunshine
Thankfully, I got my next period on September 15 so I could stop with the estrogen patches. Five days of feeling crazy was more than enough for me. I started my gonal-f injections with a higher dose of 72.5 units the following day, and continued them every evening. My first ultrasound was on September 20, I had 2 follicles on the left (one measuring in at 12 mm) and 9 on the right (three were measurable – one at 12, 11, and another at 9 mm). They count all your follicles but don’t start measuring them until they are above 9 mm.
My ovulation blood work came back and my estrogen levels were high, which was a slight concern. They put me on Cetrotide (a gonadotropin-releasing hormone that is used to prevent premature ovulation), a syringe injection (also administered into my stomach) I had to do daily before 11 am up until the point they want me to ovulate. The perk of this meant no more blood work to test if I was ovulating because this injection suppressed my body from ovulating. So they subbed out one needle for another, essentially.
I didn’t feel nearly as exhausted this time around (I think it was in part that I started acupuncture at this point – I’ll have to make a post about this topic at a later date because it is LIFE CHANGING), but the cetrotide left me feeling very clammy, faint and dizzy, with my blood pressure being extremely low during these spells. The estrogen gave me hormonal acne, a small price in the pursuit of trying to conceive.
Another ultrasound was scheduled for September 22 (I was still taking my cetrotide injections in the am, and gonal-f in the pm). This ultrasound revealed that my “measurable” follicles were at 15.5 mm (on the left) and the following on the right: 13.7, 12.6, 11, 10, and 9.8 mm. My post-ultrasound meeting with the on-call Doctor was so nerve wracking. Basically, the concern was that I had too many follicles that were close to being viable and the fear was that all six measurable follicles would be viable and could result in either a cancelled IUI cycle or possible sextuplets (I want kids but not 6 at a time, thank you). He laid out three options for me:
- We lower my gonal-f injection dose and hope my follicles won’t crash and burn from the lower dose adjustment (his wording, not mine)
- Continue on my regular gonal-f dose and more than likely have all 6 follicles ready for ovulation and have to cancel the cycle from over-stimulation
- Stop my gonal-f dose, take the ovidrel that evening (the injection to make me ovulate) and schedule the insemination for Monday (2 days later) and hope that my body will continue to slowly grow the top one or two contenders only
With Robbie being out of the country and me completing this whole IUI process by myself, I frantically was trying to call Robbie before I made my decision. I wasn’t able to get a hold of him so I choose option 3 and hoped that Robbie was in agreement (I got a hold of him later and he was, thankfully). I felt so unsteady making that decision alone but I figured it was the only option that didn’t seem to end us with nothing. Add in exhaustion from working evenings, then getting up early to drive 2.5 hours (I always get stuck in Ottawa rush hour traffic), 2 hours back, and then add in the surplus of hormones raging through my body, I was so exhausted. It was overwhelming to make that decision alone.
We went forth with Monday as the insemination day. On Saturday, prior to my last ultrasound, I took my cetrotide in the am as planned and then took the ovidrel in the evening. Essentially, Saturday morning I was suppressing my ovulation and then Saturday night I was triggering my ovulation.
Robbie ended up coming home on Sunday night but unfortunately was tasked out on Monday, so we ended up having to use his frozen sample. Sadly the numbers where much lower this time. The pre-wash count was 11 million, post-wash conditions were 5 million, with a motility of 62% (prior to the sperm-wash the original samples motility was only 36%). How did we go from having 100 million total (28 million post-wash with 96% motility) to this?
By the time they showed me these numbers it was already time for my insemination. I was already alone, pant less, legs in the stirrups, now wondering why our sperm count and motility was so low, knowing my uterine lining was on the thin side, wondering if either of my two maybe babies were even big enough to be mature, thinking about how much money we spent to freeze this sample and the numbers are terrible, and I now have a nurse sticking a catheter up my cervix to attempt to get me pregnant while my husband was 2 hours away.
During the 15 minutes wait, I tried to shut off my mind. I wore my husbands wedding band around my necklace, fiddling with it, saying over and over, I am worthy, I am fertile. We are worthy, we are fertile. Trying to slow the doubt overcoming my consciousness, but I had little success in calming my mind.
After my 15 minutes were up, I got dressed, walked to my car and cried. How lucky those are that conceive naturally that never have to worry about the finances, the driving, the needles. They never have to wonder about what size their follicles are or how their partners sperm count or how fast they are. They probably never even thought about their endometrium (uterus) lining and if it is thick enough. How lucky are they to have these beautiful, intimate moments with their partners to conceive and I get this version of reality. A stranger inseminating me and my husbands not even in the same room, let alone town.
I couldn’t help but cry. Why me?
I tried to remain hopeful during the two week wait, but I kept running those numbers through my head. My eternal optimism from my first IUI cycle was long gone, a fleeting memory swept away in the wind. People kept asking “so how do you feel?” and I wanted to scream back I FEEL LIKE A FAILURE AGAIN. I felt defeated. I wanted to vanish, disappear from my life and be re-incarnated as some fertile women.
Knowing all too well that it didn’t work, I picked up another shift again at work so that I could start saving up for the next IUI.
Since this is a late recap on my IUI, I went through my journal to re-live the emotions I felt during this IUI cycle and I found this. I am working on forgiving my broken body. It’s a process I am starting to focus on. It’s hard to know if I will ever be able to get to the point where I am fully able to self-love all my flaws. I would genuinely say I am quite able and capable of loving on all my flaws. But infertility has taken so much from me. I have crippling moments of fear, failure, and inconsolable moments of doubt wondering if there will be a light on the other side.
As per the last cycle, I got my period 2 days prior to my HCG blood work date was set. Just as I had expected.
Another BFN (big fat negative).
Defeated can’t even begin to describe the way I felt. I thought, I can’t live like this, feeling this way forever.
I need to learn to allow my conscious thoughts and doubts to leave, and allow my mind to delve into the unconscious sector of thinking, where my mind focuses on infusing light into my being. Focus on healing. Focus on restoration. Focus on self-love. I am wonderful, bright, and my body is full of nourishment. Every time a feeling of doubt comes into my mind, I have to work on invalidating it, to erase my fears, my failures. To be focused on the good that my body is doing. Every day, every cell in my body is continuously fighting to work, to serve me. My body is the only thing in this world that continues to heal and provide for me, whether I acknowledge it or not. I have to let go of what it isn’t doing, and focus on all the good it is providing me.
Wherever you are in life, whatever you have that is not serving you, let it go. Focus on what is serving you. Love that. Embrace that.