First off, let it be noted that I officially have 20 followers that I can see, 3 that follow via email and I wish I knew how many that just read and observe (I know they are out there because every so often they surprise me with something I have only said on my blog)! On Sunday, I think I had 13! I have to owe a little bit of my notoriety to Busted Kate because she not only posted my picture (which I then reposted), but a link to my blog and a little about me not from my perspective!! Thanks love!
So this post is about many of the fertility gadgets on the market today - or rather in my closet! But let's start at the beginning.
When I first skipped AF back in July 2007 (yes, it was that long ago) and we decided to go off BC for good, I got very excited. I have always known I wanted to be a mother (there's a blog coming about why), but now the time was finally upon us. And in my silliness I thought since we now wanted to be pregnant, we would BE pregnant immediately. Flash forward 2.5 years and what a moronic thought that turned out to be. Anyway, I went a bit crazy at Amazon.com. I had pregnancy books coming in for weeks...and they have collected dust ever since. I refused to read portions until we were there. So I have read probably the first chapter or two of each, i.e. "how to tell if you are pregnant" and "how to get pregnant."
Then it was determined we needed to see when I ovulated. So I took my BBT (Basal Body Temperature) every morning, despite my bladder's screams! (See, you have to take your BBT before you get up in the morning and do anything because at that point it is at it's lowest, but I always have to pee immediately when I wake up, so this was somewhat torturous laying in bed with the thermometer in my mouth for 3 minutes after opening my eyes). When it starts to go up exceedingly (in my case around 98.2 - yes that is below what you are supposed to be, but this has always been the case in my life), then you have ovulated. There are even websites dedicated to helping you find out when you ovulate (www.fertilityfriend.com). So first we started with BBT, then I was doing BBT and ovulation tests and they never seemed to match! Talk about frustrating. So in that frustration, I went back to Amazon and wrote in "fertility" and you will never guess what I found. Book after book after book about the subject. Obviously, we aren't the first with this issue. So again, our doorstep was flooded with Amazon packages, and most of those books have been read through, re-read and even read to my hubby.
By this time, I was due at my OB/GYN for my annual visit and check-up. Now she was aware when we began trying in July, so the following April (2008) was when I saw her. She immediately prescribed Clomid and told me to come back in a month or so for a check-up. After 1 month of no baby, she told me to go get blood work done and J to go get SA. So I went and they took enough blood to create that child in a test tube...I even asked if that was the plan! I swear, they took half of it! J went in, made a deposit and left. No needles...lucky man! Tests all came back perfect. So the Clomid continued for 5 more months, and the hot flashes/irritability/headaches/fatigue along with it.
When it was determined that the Clomid wasn't doing it, it was time for the big guns. Dr. H. We had originally planned to see him in October 2008, but everything in the world went a little wacky and where money had been less tight, it got exceedingly more tight due to the economy and possible lay offs and less work, you get the idea. I had already scheduled my HSG (a test where they put dye in your uterus and watch it on the screen to make sure your fallopian tubes are open and aligned right, etc, all while putting you on very nice drugs to make you sleepy and hurt less), so we did that. Then determined since everything was okay there and the holidays were coming and money was still tight, we would hold off until March 2009. Finally, March rolled around and things had settled a bit and still no baby so we decided it was time. Went to see Dr. H, test results in hand, and had our first consult. First, he put me on Progesterone because of the spotting before AF and gave us some dietary things to change (less beer for J, whole milk for me, etc.) and told me to drop 10 lbs and both of us to stay out of the hot tub. Thus began my visits to WW and my loss of 12 lbs! Oh, now here comes May again and my visit to my OB/GYN who recommended Dr. H. Obviously, still no luck with us, but I am somewhat lighter. She says we are doing all we can and keep on it with Dr. H.
I had heard about this thing called a Fertility Watch and how it helped all these people get pregnant...at this point detecting ovulation was still hard to do. Dr. H had told us to BD from day 8-16, just in case, figuring I OV'd around day 14...but with no test to back it up, only a year and a half worth of BBT reports. So I found someone selling a Fertility Watch on Ebay for cheap with the sensors too (Retail was about $200 with 3 sensors, and you need a new sensor every month), so Ebay was maybe $125. Worth it to me. Got the watch and had some issues with it. First, it hurt to wear because it had to be flat against your wrist so the sensor could read. You wear it all night long as that is when the chemistry changes in your system and tells the watch when you ovulate. First month, a few hiccups, but it worked. And guess what it told us...BD days 8-16! Oh, was I mad! So tried another month...well, then the sensor issues began. One night it would read, the next it wouldn't. And if the dang thing didn't read for 3 nights in a row, it gave up so there went that cycle. I was on a first-name basis with the Customer Service department lady who, God-love-her never gave up and kept sending me free sensors. Anyway, after month #2 going up in flames and month #3 as well. I gave up, realizing that it had told me the same thing as Dr. H without having to wake up with a watch imprint every morning. So the Fertility Watch got shelved as well.
I had also started Acupuncture at some point in all of this and that continued to be a bi-weekly thing. I believe it helped and was enjoyable. Just not very cheap.
Then, we began our IUI cycles (3 of them - August, September, and October 2009). So that meant Femara (10 of the most expensive pills ever, that replaced the Clomid, and lucky for me didn't give me side effects), getting to know the Ultrasound machine far too well (and not even going out for drinks beforehand!), Trigger Shots at 11 pm 2 nights before the big day, and J making a deposit in a cup before we raced to the doc's for Dr. H to put the boys in the right place and then wait. At this point, we knew I was ovulating and almost exactly how many eggs were about to be released and WHEN! What do you think that day was? Day 14, Day 14, Day 14. Every single month we did IUI, we went to see Dr. H on Day 14. Whether it was a Saturday, a Sunday, or a Wednesday! The first round, I blogged all about it and when that didn't work, we decided not to tell anyone that didn't have to know - aka my boss, who is also my Mom, had to know because lots of times I was late coming into work, but that was almost it. I hinted to friends that we were trying it again, but wouldn't specify dates or times. It just felt like we were jinxing ourselves. Three negative pregnancy tests later, J and I both threw our hands up in the air and said, "I give up!"
So all processes stopped. No more Dr. H, no more acupuncture, no more Progesterone, no more Femara, no more BBT, no more OV tests, no more not drinking, no more not hot tubbing! We went a little haywire. And I turned 30 - with a wonderful party and lots of friends and family. Probably the first time I had really relaxed in a year! Christmas shopping began and my parents asked me what I wanted and I told them about Circle+Bloom. Circle+Bloom is a meditative series on mp3 that follows your cycle. You begin listening on Day 1 and as far as I can tell, it tells you what is going on with your body right now and de-stresses you. It's not particularly cheap either (are we sensing a trend?!), but it is less that Acu and Dr. H. Well, I didn't end up getting it (but was happy with the other things!) but it has remained on my radar. It came up again yesterday...my dear friend Busted Kate was lucky enough to get to test it out and is now giving a series away on her blog. I've entered in many ways (and this adds 3 more entries!), but it also provoked some more research into it. So I cruised around their website for a bit last night and found out some interesting things:
1. The Hypothalamus, which is a walnut-sized organ in the middle of the brain, regulates BOTH stress and fertility. (So I knew stress affected fertility, but now it makes a little more sense why.)
2. Ovulation can occur anywhere from Day 8 to Day 22.
3. Clomid, works on your hypothalamus to have it produce GNRH and spurs the pituitary gland into action to send the hormones to the ovaries (LH and FSH) in increasing amounts until ovulation. The ovaries receive the hormones and send back estrogen. And this continues...back and forth.
4. After ovulation, the corpus luteum (where the egg was released) sends progesterone (or I take a pill 2x a day from day 15-day 29) to the uterus to have it build up tissue to nourish the fertilized egg.5. It takes between 6-8 days for the fertilized egg to make its way to the uterus where it will burrow into the walls of the uterus and begin to grow.
6. When a woman reaches puberty, she will have between 300,000 to 500,000 eggs in her ovaries. (I wonder where I am now!)
7. Hormones are the play makers, and they dictate when and what goes on in your reproductive cycle.
So I really hope I win the Circle+Bloom, because not only will it save me some coin...but it may save my sanity! Click here to read Kate's post. And if you really love me, you could even follow her blog and leave a comment for me since I will be maxed out! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!
To wrap up our little fertility gadget discussion...there are two that I haven't yet purchased and probably never will now that I know about the time I ovulate. There is the Ovacue Fertility Monitor. Bascially, you put this thing on your tongue and it tests the electrolytes on your tongue to tell you when you are ovulating. It is beyond expensive and not to our needs anymore.
There is also the Ovulation Microscope in which, you take a sample of your saliva every morning and analyze it yourself to determine if you are ovulating by "looking at the patterns formed from the crystallized salts, a woman can determine how close she is to ovulating. As ovulation approaches the crystals will begin to form a pattern that looks much like a fern. If you see a fern-like pattern in the microscope, it means you are ovulating." This is far too technical for me! So I didn't buy that one either.
(I got these notes from http://www.justmommies.com/articles/best-fertility-gadgets.shtml, if you are interested in more detail about the last 2).
Well that just about wraps up our infertility story and all the gadgets clogging up my closet. Hopefully, you will pop over to Busted Kate's blog and vote for me to win the Circle+Bloom. Or send me a few bucks to build up our savings account to afford it! ;) Thanks much if you choose to do either!
Next step is IUI with Femara with Trigger Shot and with other shots during the course of the month. Doesn't that sound romantic?! Now you know why we are waiting until we are again ready.
Peace out Bleaders!