10 Baileys Points if you can identify the inspiration for the title for this post.
I know I said I’d try to update with what all has been going on around here lately, and then kept you all waiting. It’s been a long couple of days, so bear with me. Nothing much terribly important has been going on in the grand scheme of things. Unless you are me, in which case it’s been a seriously stressful two weeks. Here’s the background….
I use the Clearblue Easy Fertility Monitor to keep track of my cycle and find the two most fertile days to get pregnant. I highly recommend this little gadget to anyone trying to get pregnant, infertile or not. In fact, when the YaYa Princess decides to have herself a little tax deduction, I’ll be happy to loan her my monitor, provided it’s not in use at the time. And at something like $200, begging/borrowing/stealing is highly recommended. I bought mine secondhand and will gladly pass it along when we’re done with our family. You know, in like 10 years when it’s probably obsolete. But I digress. Every morning at 7:30 I push the button on this handy little computer. It records the time and cycle day, and if necessary prompts me to pee on a stick (POAS, if you’re part of the infertile community). Then I put the stick in the monitor, it does some manner of magical divination (or scientific reading, whatever) and tells me my Fertility Status. Low days are like any other day, high fertility days may be a good day for …um…yeah. And The Peak Day is the most awaited day in all of Infertilityland. That day and the next day are the best days to get all knocked up, or inseminated if you’re going the full medical route. A fortuitous day, no doubt. The science of this works like so:
Your body uses hormones to control your cycle and fertility. You know that, I’m sure. I start out the month (we call it a “cycle”, you know…) with Clomid on cycle days 5-9. Somewhere around CD 11 I start P’ingOAS. The level of estrogen in your body (and consequently in your bloodstream) begins to increase as you near ovulation. A follicle or two begins to form on your ovary, which contains the egg. At this point, viola: “High Fertility” is indicated on the monitor. This is a good day for extracurricular activities, but not mandated. Ha! Man-dated. 😉 24-36 hours before you actually ovulate, your body releases lutenizing hormone, called LH. This is the handy little chemical that makes your follicle rupture, releasing the egg. The follicle goes on to do other cool things, but they are not part of this story. So, this LH surge is picked up by the fertility monitor in your urine (actually, my urine, thanks) and the monitor goes to Peak Fertility. This means: Get Busy. Ovulation will be in the next 24-36 hours, so the following day is good, too. Since an egg has a lifespan of 12-24 hours, you need to have the other ingredient there prior to the egg. Cart before the horse sort of situation. After your Peak Day, the monitor stops asking for test sticks and you go back to waiting. This is called the Two Week Wait (TWW) in the happy infertility community. Basically the length of time between ovulation and either your period or a pregnancy test.
Sounds easy enough, right? Except for this month, when my life went like this:
CD 5-9 Clomid
CD 11 commence peeing on technology
CD 18 high fertility reading — right on track for me to ovulate at day 20 like usual. That day 14 thing is bull, by the way
CD 19-26 still high fertility. No peak, no change, just ……………………………..high.
At this point, I worried. Actually, I commenced worrying around CD 22, but that’s neither here nor there. By CD 26, I called Jan The Very Cool Nurse at my fertility clinic. She was equally puzzled, and concerned, and scheduled me for an emergency appointment Tuesday morning. This meant Brian had to change his schedule really quickly and we had to pay for an ultrasound….again. This is a monthly occurrence, so not too big a deal. But worrisome when you don’t have a little window in your abdomen to see what’s goin’ on. The likely scenario was that I had not ovulated, and was going to need a little further chemical encouragement to pop that follicle. Or that I had ovulated and the monitor had missed it somehow. You know, because $200 technology isn’t foolproof. But if Jan was worried, that worried me. That’s where I was when I posted the other day, letting you all know that I was off to the doc’s.
The ultrasound showed at least one, and possibly two follicles on my ovaries. It was impossible to tell if they were ready to pop, or if they already had ruptured and were now corpus luteum-s. Corpi lutei? Only a blood test would tell, checking for that ever-useful hormone, progesterone. I’ve posted about that before, so I’ll spare you the link. An elevated progesterone level would indicate that I had ovulated, and a low level would indicate that I needed help to do so. Help in the form of a “trigger shot” of hCG. Since I was unable to stay in Charlottesville to get the shot if my blood work came back low, I got to learn how to give myself a shot, and was sent home with syringes and hCG to shoot myself up later that night. I was told to call back in an hour for my results.
This is where it gets a bit anti-climactic. My progesterone level was an 11, which indicates that I ovulated. The doctor estimated that it was around CD 20, based on my progesterone level. My monitor missed it. Two weeks of wondering and worrying, 2 hours of driving across the mountain, $130 of doctor’s bills and hCG costs, and a 20 minute lesson in how to stab myself effectively in the stomach because of a minor technological malfunction. Fun, and totally typical in the infertility journey that tons of people travel. The good news is that I ovulated, and that our timing may have been good, and I’ll know in a week or so if I’m in the family way. Praying, you know.
Here’s what just popped into my mind: no one knew about this but the people in this house. That day was stressful and a bit scary (read this link to understand why: Ovarian Hyperstimulation), and no one knew. Because infertility isn’t something you talk about, or put on your church’s prayer list, or mention to your grandmother or cousin, or sometimes even your best friend. I’ve been amazed lately to find out the people that we know that struggled or still do struggle with infertility. All by ourselves, usually. I once mentioned to the YaYa Princess that no one makes eye contact in the fertility clinic waiting room. It’s kind of weird, actually. So I would encourage you to make yourself open to your friends and family so that if they need to talk they feel comfortable. It can be a cold, lonely journey, and I really wish that everyone had as many outlets as we do. We’re blessed with family and friends who are open to hearing about our weird experiences, too much information, and blogs about cervices. Not everyone is this lucky, so please be understanding and gentle to them. Maybe there’s someone at work who is grouchy, or seems tired or irritable. They may be dealing with infertility quietly, and need someone to care. You may be able to help someone who is going through such a situation as we faced this cycle. Uncertainty, failure, and anxiety are not fun — be a help to someone you know!
Now, I’m off to bed. Having spent an entire day dealing with vertigo for some reason, I’m exhausted. Smooches to you all, thanks for listening, and goodnight. Oh, and a shout out to The Bum – we heard about Cooper’s little journey away from home, and we’ll be keeping you in our thoughts and prayers. I hope he’s home soon!! Night, ya’ll.