FET Prep Week 4: Bad News from SIS Test

FET Prep Week 4: Bad News from SIS Test

As per usual, my original treatment plans get tossed out the window because my body decides to go rogue. I would be more surprised if things actually went according to plan, ever. Sometimes the universe seems to throw every obstacle in my way. It’s hard not to think these challenges are designed to test my limits constantly. I know it’s not the end of the world, but damn, give a girl a break! Before I jump into everything that happened this past week, let me proudly announce that I did not lose my sanity, at least I have that going for me for the time being.

Countdown Until FET: 88 days (as of 1-27-2020)

 

Catch-up on Previous FET Prep Posts

FET Prep Week 1: 3.5 months until FET

FET Prep Week 2: Supplements, WTF Email, & Increased AMH Level

FET Prep Week 3: You say Future Tripping, I say Future Planning

 

Bad News from SIS Test

My IVF clinic in Seattle requires I have a SIS test completed prior to my FET. If you don’t know, SIS stands for saline-infusion sonogram. I absolutely hate doing these, I’ve had to do this maybe three or four times and I would take surgery with anesthesia over this any day. I’ve always had pain doing my annual PAP smear. The SIS test uses a speculum, just like with a typical PAP smear, but then they put in a catheter to fill up your uterus with saline, or salt water. At the same time they use a transvaginal ultrasound wand to look inside the uterus. It feels like you have to pee while also feeling similar to moderate menstrual cramp pain. Some women have no pain with their SIS test, but everyone is different.

The SIS test I did on Thursday was just as unpleasant as all the previous ones. What made it worse was knowing ahead of time I would need to pay $1200 for this test. So there I am lying on the table, looking at a white blob on the screen. The doctor had her hand on the catheter wiggling it around the blob, pushing on my stomach rapidly over and over again (not a pretty sight if you have some extra pounds on the belly), and telling the ultrasound tech to move the wand around all over the place inside me. “Maybe if we take the catheter and push on it, it will break it up. It might just be a blood clot, let’s try to push into it to see what happens.” Tap, tap, jab, jab, ouuuuuch! “Okay, that hurts!” I told her. She apologizes then asks me to try moving my knees out, then rolling on my side. But now matter what any of us three women did, this blob remained immovable.

“To me it looks like it might be an adhesion or scar tissue, I don’t think it’s a blood clot because it’s not moving. But I’m not sure exactly what it is. I will send these images to your doctor in Seattle and see what he says,” she tells me. This could very well throw off all of my plans for my FET. She explained I would probably need a follow-up SIS, or surgery. Both are expensive and I don’t have the money for either, I’m still trying to pay off my other medical bill from my recent miscarriage. 

 

Surgery Scheduled

The following morning I get a call from my local OBGYN who explained that he spoke with my Seattle doctor and they felt the best option was to go ahead with another surgery. They didn’t think it was a simple blood clot based on how it looked, they thought it could be scar tissue or something else, but they wouldn’t know for sure unless they did a pathology test on it to figure it out. It’s the “something else” part I’m concerned about, because both doctors have explained to me I am at risk of developing uterine cancer. So I’m hoping it’s just scar tissue. 

They will be doing hysteroscopy surgery. Essentially that’s where they put a little hysteroscope, or camera, inside to actually see what’s going on in there. “It will either be a diagnostic surgery or an operative surgery, depending on what I see” my doctor explains, “If that tissue is still there I’ll go ahead and remove it, then send it out to be tested. We want your uterus to be absolutely clear of any tissue, polyps, or fibroids before your Frozen Embryo Transfer. Because you only have one embryo right? Yeah. So if the embryo tries to implant on that tissue you could have a failed FET or another miscarriage.” I agreed that it sounded like there was no other option but to remove it, whatever it is. 

Thursday and Friday I had to answer about half a dozen different phone calls from my doctors office, the surgery center nurse, the financial department for the surgery center, then the financial department for my doctors office. “We’ll need $3200 the day of your surgery” the receptionist told me from the surgery center. Mind you, this didn’t even include the doctor’s fee or the anesthesiologist fee. Oh yes, let me just fork over thousands of dollars I keep lying around. Yeah, right! The weird part is the surgery center never expected everything up front like this before. I told her there was no way I could do that and asked about a payment plan. Apparently they no longer do payment plans, so I had to apply for Care Credit. I’ve never used medical credit before, so it’s all new to me. I got approved for the amount of the surgery, so I am hoping everything goes without a hitch on the day of the surgery. Then it would only be a matter of monthly payments to the Care Credit company. 

 

Bills, Bills, & More Bills

In a single week I’ve accumulated $5,439 in debt. F**k my life! 

  • Car repair for exhaust leak, needed new catalytic converter and gasket (my car sounded like it was going to blow up): $539 
  • Natera (pathology report from last miscarriage): $400
  • SIS bill (Pre-FET ultrasound test): $1200
  • Hysteroscopy surgery estimate: $3300

Plus add in the bill I’ve already been paying on…

  • 2019 ER visit for miscarriage: $2500 remaining (that’s after the $1000+ I already paid down)

Grand Total of Current Debt = $7939

Yes, it’s a lot of debt at once. And I may have downed three glasses of Merlot quite rapidly when I got home the other night when I did all the math, but when I pull back and look at the big picture, it’s not that bad. I’ve been dealing with miscarriages and infertility treatments for going on five years now, and to only have just under $8,000 of debt is actually kind of impressive. I know other women who owe upwards of $40,000 all the way up to $100,000 in debt for infertility treatments. Yes it definitely throws a wrench in my plans for the year and I’m still kind of panicking, but perhaps I’ll use that stressful energy into finding a solution. 

My original plan was to pay off my previous ER bill (and my only bill prior to this week) before my FET, then I’d be golden. I could have been pregnant, and off work to reduce stress for my high risk pregnancy. I could have just chilled at home baking a little bun in the oven. I would have had some money in savings to pay smaller bills like my phone and car insurance. But all the bills started rolling in this week. But this week my dream of being a stay-at-home preggers wifey just exploded in my face.

So what the hell am I going to do next? Well if my pathology report from this upcoming surgery shows it was simply scar tissue, I’m hoping I will still be on track with my FET date of mid-April. I talked with Kurtis about how I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to get a second job during this critical three month time before my FET where they emphasize the importance of reducing stress. A new job would definitely add to my stress level. Luckily, my current work schedule is very flexible. I can work as much as 40 hours per week or as little as one shift per month, since I am an on-call staff member. 

I talked about with Kurtis about a tentative plan after the FET, I plan to work the minimum amount of one shift per month for the first trimester, that is if I’m lucky enough to actually get pregnant. Then after I pass the first trimester I’ll probably work more. It’s risky to be working, especially considering my history of miscarriages. Even just writing those last few sentences, it just doesn’t sit right with me. It essentially boils down to a question of “Are you willing to risk your pregnancy to pay bills? Or do you need to just accept that you will be in debt for a while?” I’m already looking at the trajectory of this year and it’s looking like our dream of buying a house this year is out the window. It’s sad, and it sucks, because both Kurtis and I made plans for it to happen this year. If infertility was personified it would be that mean schoolyard bully who relentlessly pummels you into the ground. On the flip side, I keep getting back up to fight back. I hope you are at least putting your money on me winning instead of that asshole Infertility. 

Speaking of money, if you want to help a sister out, you can donate to us to help pay down our medical bills. It would be much appreciated. Every little bit helps. 

 

Mini-Victories for the Week

Completed SIS procedure this week. 

Local OBGYN was able to quickly get me scheduled for surgery first thing next week.

Did 18/6 intermittent fasting a few days this week.

 

Work in Progress

Surgery scheduled Monday for hysteroscopy.

Need to cut out alcohol completely now that I am in my 3-month window before FET.

No caffeine whatsoever. This past week I transitioned from coffee to tea, now need to cut out caffeinated tea.

Did some stress eating with all the new bills and upcoming surgery, need to be careful not to do this for this next week.

weight

 

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read the disclosure here

 

Want to find out how fertile you are? The Modern Fertility test is an affordable test that shows your hormone levels and gives you an overall picture of where you stand with your fertility. What hormones will the test? Depending on the type of birth control you are on they can test up to eight different hormone levels which may include:

AMH (Anti-mullerian hormone)

FSH (Follicle stimulating hormone)

E2 (Estradiol)

LH (Luteinizing hormone)

TSH (Thyroid stimulating hormone)

FT4 (Free thyroxine)

PRL (Prolactin)

T (Testosterone)

Order your test today.

Modern Fertility Test – Women’s Health Hormone Test You Can Take at Home – Not Available NY, NJ, RI

 

Documentary Review: “One More Shot” (2018)

Documentary Review: “One More Shot” (2018)

Year Released: 2018

Length: 1 hour 25 minutes

Director: Noah Moskin

Stars: Maya Grobel & Noah Moskin

Cinematography: Gabriel Peters-Lazaro

Watch on Netflix

HopingForBaby.com Rating:

5 out of 5

Spoiler Alert! Some of the topics discussed in this post contains spoilers about events that happened in this documentary. Go watch the documentary first on Netflix, then come back to read my review. 

Overview of the Documentary

If you want to go beyond the science and actually see how fertility treatments affect people going through that process One More Shot is an excellent film to start with. I watched this before my egg retrievals as well as after. I felt like this helped prepare me to know what to expect. The second time I watched it, after the egg retrievals I could not believe how much of it was so relatable. So many of the emotions and conversations in this film were also what I experienced along the way. It mostly follows a couple, Noah and Maya’s, on their journey to parenthood using infertility treatments. They also interview other couples and a single woman that experienced infertility. This documentary was the first time I heard about embryo donation, also known as embryo adoption. The movie covers IVF using one’s own eggs, donor eggs, embryo donation, traditional adoption, and using a gestational surrogate. 

Noah and Maya met in college and fell in love. They are an adventurous couple who seemed to have it all, except they were having a really hard time getting pregnant. Maya learns that she has Diminished Ovarian Reserve, which greatly reduces her chances of having a child. Noah gets tested as well and learns that his sperm quality is good. But after trying for two years to get pregnant they decide to go for IVF. They have their friend Gabe help film their journey with infertility treatments.

Tough Decisions

Financial concerns are one of the biggest obstacles couples will face when seeking out infertility treatment. Noah and Maya were feeling very defeated after their first round of IVF failed, using Maya’s own eggs. But to add insult to injury, Noah lost his job, making affording their next round of IVF nearly impossible. At the same time their doctor was advising them to consider other options, such as egg donation. One of the most difficult decisions someone can make is when to stop trying trying fertility treatments using their own eggs or sperm. So what did that look like for Noah and Maya?

Doctor Najmabadi delicately explains some of the factors that contribute to when people decide to stop trying with their own eggs. Dr. Najmabadi explains this as, “we have limited resources of emotion, time, finances . . .” and that if they wanted to increase their odds of becoming parents they should consider the next step of using donated eggs. Noah seems interested in this option and during a discussion with Maya he says to the camera, “But if she can’t have hers I don’t feel that necessarily negates me having mine.” He is talking about using his sperm with donated eggs, so the child would still be genetically his, although it would not be hers.

One of the biggest decisions they had to make next was who was going to be their egg donor. They considered an anonymous donor at first but then asked Maya’s sister Hana. Maya was somewhat concerned about people’s perceptions of the situation and said at one point, and joked about how some might consider it a “freak show” with her future child’s aunt also being her genetic mother. They figured that the child would be genetically Noah’s and still be able to continue Maya’s family genetics, even though it would not be genetically Maya’s. Maya was also concerned about her sister’s well being through the egg retrieval process. All three of them had open and candid conversations throughout the process.

A Family Effort

Maya’s parents were involved in helping the couple save up for another round of IVF. They too had hopes and dreams of someday being grandparents. The documentary shows her parents walking around the house trying to find valuables they could sell so they could help out their daughter. Some of the things they considered selling were rare photos of Marlon Brandow, a letter from Elmore Leonard, an autographed baseball from Bob Gibson, and two Andy Warhol paintings. They did end up selling some items and they talked about how it would be worth it in the end if they could help their daughter have another chance at having a child. Her parent’s efforts as well a grant they won from Baby Quest helped them to fund a second round of IVF using donated eggs from Maya’s sister.

Maya’s sister took decided to step up and help Maya and Noah by doing an egg retrieval and donating her eggs to them. They were able to retrieve 16 eggs and 10 fertilized. Sadly half of those fertilized eggs allowed two sperm to enter the egg. As Dr. Najmabadi explains to them, “it shows a lack of proper function of an egg.” They decide to implant three of the embryos but none of them implanted and therefore the round of IVF had failed.

Emotional & Bittersweet

This documentary is definitely a no-holds-barred raw and emotional perspective on what it’s like to do IVF with one’s own eggs, with donor eggs, and donor embryos. It’s an incredibly personal and intimate look on what it takes to get through infertility treatments, which is one of the hardest things a couple can do in their relationship. Some of the hardest moments they filmed included the phone calls from their doctor’s office about their results from their rounds of IVF. Maya’s crying was gut wrenching to see because you can really feel her pain. And Noah did all he could to support Maya during those times by just holding her while she cried through her pain. Noah seemed to be the quintessential supportive partner. He gave her so many shots, came to her doctor appointments, gave her many hugs, and did not shy away from tough conversations.

Even though there were some really sad parts to the film there were also some very sweet and humorous moments they shared together. At one point they went to a doctor appointment and as they were waiting Noah felt compelled to grab the ultrasound wand and treat it like a karaoke mic. There were some other funny parts as well. Sometimes people consider trying non-traditional methods outside the typical Western Medical treatment model. I am open to trying different things that may work. But I found the process Maya went through absolutely hilarious, I found myself laughing out loud when she was hung upside down by her feet while she dangled from the second floor of their home. Another time she was slapped with large leaves and spat on by the Oaxacan healer. But hey, I’m not going to knock alternative methods if others believe it could work. And think of it this way, if it makes you feel better and reduces your stress level, why not try it? Some scientists believe that by simply having someone talking to you, being attentive, and physically touching you (i.e., acupuncturist, massage therapist, other alternative healers) this could help reduce stress and may contribute to improved fertility rates.

I loved that they were able to look at the positive side as well as not shy away from the sad parts of the process. They did have some happy news at times during the film. After Maya found out three of the eggs had fertilized from their donor eggs from her sister she got excited but then caught herself for a moment, and considered the possibility of it not working. But she was quickly able to let that thought pass and not let it push her happiness down. I like how she said, “In this moment I feel happy and that’s okay.” I remember feeling that same way at times, getting happy news, considering the possibility it may not work, but then choosing to be happy anyway. I really like that it showed Maya making that decision to be happy, despite not knowing what the future might hold. Although the stakes are so high with infertility treatments. If you are also doing fertility treatments remember to allow yourself to be happy when you get good news, instead of worrying about things that may go wrong. I know it’s easier said than done at times. But why be tense throughout the whole process when you can allow yourself to really feel those moments of happiness. 

I loved this documentary for many reasons. I loved that Maya and Noah didn’t shy away from their emotions and were open with each other and the world. I felt like it was so brave of them to express what they were going through in such detail. It helped me to become more prepared for my IVF treatment ahead of time, and I found it relatable in so many ways. They interviewed other people experiencing infertility, to get a wide variety of perspectives. This was such a great touch to the film because it showed viewers there were many paths to parenthood. I’ve watched this documentary several times since it’s been released. I feel like it’s one of those you can watch again when you are feeling down and want to see others who have been where you are now. This documentary doesn’t just show the struggle of infertility, it also shows hope. 

Featured Image Credit: http://www.onemoreshotfilm.com/

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read the disclosure here

Want to find out how fertile you are? The Modern Fertility test is an affordable test that shows your hormone levels and gives you an overall picture of where you stand with your fertility. What hormones will the test? Depending on the type of birth control you are on they can test up to eight different hormone levels which may include:

AMH (Anti-mullerian hormone)

FSH (Follicle stimulating hormone)

E2 (Estradiol)

LH (Luteinizing hormone)

TSH (Thyroid stimulating hormone)

FT4 (Free thyroxine)

PRL (Prolactin)

T (Testosterone)

Order your test today.

Modern Fertility Test – Women’s Health Hormone Test You Can Take at Home – Not Available NY, NJ, RI

FET Prep Week 3: You say Future Tripping, I say Future Planning

FET Prep Week 3: You say Future Tripping, I say Future Planning

I always like having a backup plan in case my original plan doesn’t work out. It helps keep me sane. Even though I believe in taking one step at a time, I also believe having a Plan B. It’s so important for being able to keep the momentum going and headed in the right direction. What if you want to try IVF again but your partner does not? In this post I write about this exact situation that my husband and I found ourselves in. Openly communicating how you both feel might be really difficult if you are on different pages. It does not necessarily mean there is no way to compromise either. Keep reading to find out how I may have found a good compromise that might work for us if this upcoming FET does not work. This post will also cover some of the changes I’m working on to help lower my weight in preparation for my FET.

 

Catch-up on Previous FET Prep Posts

FET Prep Week 1: 3.5 months until FET

FET Prep Week 2: Supplements, WTF Email, & Increased AMH Level

 

Countdown Until FET: 95 days (as of 1-20-2020)

 

18:6 Intermittent Fasting

So right off the bat, I don’t recommend fasting for everyone. But I talked with my doctor and for my particular situation intermittent fasting could help me kick-start some weight loss. I need to lose some weight to get closer to a healthier BMI. It’s been about a year or so since I’ve done intermittent fasting. There are a lot of misconceptions about intermittent fasting. I’ve known people who did intermittent fasting to shed a lot of weight. One person I know lost about 100 pounds doing intermittent fast over a one year period. It all boils down to doing your research and listening to your body. 

Twice this week I did 18:6 intermittent fasting, which means that 18 hours of the day no calories are consumed while six hours of the day you can eat calories. The longest I went was three days. Going three days without food when you are obese is not as extreme as some might tell you. What’s more extreme is having to deal with the deadly effects of obesity including high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Unfortunately I’m currently dealing with high blood pressure and need medication. My goal is to eventually not need the medication, but this may be a long road to get there, but I have hope. 

I used to be prediabetic, which is a really scary thing to be told by your doctor. But I am happy to say I was able to lose that dreadful label. Obesity is no joke, and I think finding a doable eating plan can give people hope. For me, an 18:6 intermittent fasting plan is more doable. The goal is to avoid taking in more than 1200 calories in a day and use intermittent fasting to increase ketones activity and hopefully boost weight loss. But I’m not perfect, there were a couple days this week I didn’t track what I was eating. Although I don’t think it was an extreme amount of food, I still should have been tracking. Even if this whole weight loss endeavor is a ‘two steps forward, one step back’ kind of thing at least I’m still moving forward. 

 

HCG Test Results

Once again my hCG results were zero for the month, and I am very happy about this. If you are new to my blog, you might be scratching your head right now and asking, “But don’t you want to have a positive hCG result for a pregnancy?” The short answer is no, not right now. In a nutshell, my last miscarriage was due to a partial molar pregnancy and my doctor advised me to not get pregnant for six months due to risk of Gestational Trophoblastic Disease (GTD), which could turn into uterine cancer.

I have to get a blood test monthly to ensure my hCG levels remain negative for the next few months. It did rise slightly at one point early on and I needed a second surgery. But ever since that second surgery I have been so happy and relieved that my levels still remain negative. I only have three months left of my monthly blood test. Then after that I hope I will be doing hCG testing for a positive pregnancy test (post-FET) rather than hCG testing for potential cancer. I still find it so bizarre that it’s the same test but used for two entirely different purposes. 

 

CNY Consult Scheduled in May

So although my husband is not too keen on talking about a backup plan if this upcoming FET does not work, I am very much the type of person who prefers to have a Plan B. It helps to ease my mind knowing there is a plan in place for when things don’t work out, and that’s honestly how I think I’ve managed to keep my sanity over these years. I find that I am able to bounce back more quickly with a backup plan. My husband sees it differently, he said, “You’re future tripping. You’re expecting it [the FET] to fail before it even happens.” I don’t see it as expecting failure though, I see it as being realistic about the odds of it not working and choosing to plan ahead just in case it doesn’t work. My doctor said, “there is a 40% chance it will not work, and there is a 60% chance that it will.” The odds are in my favor, but there is also no guarantee.”

So what does my Plan B look like? It’s a phone call for my initial consult with a prominent doctor at the CNY clinic in New York. He is one of the most highly recommended doctors I’ve seen on the infertility forums and he is at one of the most affordable clinics. I chose to schedule my initial phone consult with him in mid-May. I chose mid-May because by then I would know for sure whether my embryo implanted from my FET. If it did not implant I would have that appointment all set up just in time to move forward. I knew the wait time for a consultation with CNY can be months out, so I decided to lock in my time now. 

 

When Egg Freezing Makes More Sense

What do you do if your husband or partner says they might not want to do IVF again? IVF is physically, emotionally, and financially one of the most difficult things a couple can go through. My husband has mentioned that if this upcoming FET does not work he doesn’t think he wants to pursue further IVF treatments. But I feel very strongly the opposite way. Some women run the risk of resenting their spouse for giving up before they are ready. This can lead to major regrets later in life. If you have a low AMH level it limits the amount of time you have left to have biological children, and if you change your mind later on and decide to do IVF it could be too late. So what’s a girl to do? If in your heart of hearts you feel very strongly that you are not ready to completely give up on doing IVF, I recommend an alternative solution. 

I decided a solution to my current predicament is to consider freezing my eggs. I could do a few egg retrievals, freeze those little eggies, and take the time to focus on my marriage and other goals I have. I see it as a win-win. I would be preserving my potential fertility while allowing room for other things in my life, rather than being fully consumed with infertility treatments back to back with no break in between. Even the idea of freezing my eggs and taking a year off to actually live my life seems like a nice option. We need to find some sort of compromise, and I think egg freezing can be a good one. Egg freezing isn’t just for single women, it’s also for couples like us who need a break and still want to preserve their fertility for the future. If you are in a similar situation, I’d suggest doing some research on egg freezing and consider whether this might be a good idea for you. The same goes for my male readers as well, consider freezing your sperm at a younger age to help preserve your fertility, if your partner is saying they need a break from doing IVF.

 

Mini-Victories for the Week

Reduced gluten intake somewhat (less wheat bread).

Did 18:6 intermittent fasting a couple times this week. 

Set up CNY phone consultation with the doctor I wanted.

 

Work in Progress

Go shopping to buy more veggies and some fruit. Fresh preferred, frozen…okay, canned…meh (but better than nothing).

Consistently track calories daily.

Don’t overdo the exercise like I did this past week. Try to aim for consistency with one hour daily, six times per week.

weight

 

 

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read the disclosure here

Want to find out how fertile you are? The Modern Fertility test is an affordable test that shows your hormone levels and gives you an overall picture of where you stand with your fertility. What hormones will the test? Depending on the type of birth control you are on they can test up to eight different hormone levels which may include:

AMH (Anti-mullerian hormone)

FSH (Follicle stimulating hormone)

E2 (Estradiol)

LH (Luteinizing hormone)

TSH (Thyroid stimulating hormone)

FT4 (Free thyroxine)

PRL (Prolactin)

T (Testosterone)

Order your test today.

Modern Fertility Test – Women’s Health Hormone Test You Can Take at Home – Not Available NY, NJ, RI

FET Prep Week 2: Supplements, WTF Email, & Increased AMH Level

FET Prep Week 2: Supplements, WTF Email, & Increased AMH Level

This week was crazy, for different reasons. Crazy productive, crazy stressful, and also crazy exciting. That’s a lot of crazies! I want to make this FET Prep weekly series more reader-friendly so I will break down the week’s highlights by topics, then go over my mini-victories for the week, and finally things that are a work in progress. I’ll also include my weight loss ticker near the bottom of my posts as I am trying to get to a healthier weight before my FET.

 

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read the disclosure here

 

Supplements

So I sent a message to my fertility clinic asking about supplements and other suggestions they have for me. I got kind of an underwhelming response of very little info on how to prepare for an FET with supplements and diet. I’m surprised at how little it is compared to what I’m reading and when I compare notes with what others have said helped them have a successful FET. In a nutshell it says, take a prenatal and eat healthy food. I find the lack of information in that message to be really dubious. 

updated dr response

Screenshot of the response from my clinic for recommendations of supplements and food suggestions to prepare for FET.

I did my own research on the supplements that may help thicken the lining of my uterus, therefore increasing the chances of my embryo implanting. Check out page 183 in the second edition of It Starts with the Egg to read Rebecca Fett’s suggestions on supplements. The vitamins I plan on taking will probably vary from what you need, so buy the book and then check with your doctor. 

Prenatal – Thorne Basic Prenatal (with at least 800mcg of methylfolate)

Vitamin E – Solgar (600mg/day or 900IU/day)

Vitamin D – Nature Made (4000-5000IU/day)

L-arganine – Solgar (6g/day)

Bio-quinone Q10 Gold (400mg/day: 200mg at breakfast and 200mg at lunch) 

Low-Dose Asprin – Kirkland Signature (81mg/day)

5-MTHF – Thorne 5mg (this supplement is specific to my needs, due to my MTHFR gene mutation) 

IMG_20200110_185600

The WTF Email

So my husband was considering discarding his sperm that is stored at our clinic. He had concerns about continuing to pay for it, especially after our clinic increased the prices this year. He had mentioned this to me recently that he was thinking about stopping the payment and having the clinic discard it. I heard him out and thought he was going to think about for a bit. I mentioned to him in the past I could take over the payments in January 2020. Thursday my husband took the initiative to call them and tell them he was going to stop paying and to discard the sperm. I didn’t know he was going to do this, thus resulting in a s**t storm of epic proportions that ensued.

The first problem, right off the bat, is that he was choosing to discard sperm from two years ago. They say the younger the sperm the better your chances of a successful live-birth. He’s approaching his mid-40s, which I’m learning from different sources is when sperm starts to decline in quality (Better Health Channel, 2017). The second problem, my recent miscarriage was related to a sperm issue which we had not experienced at all in the earlier years of our infertility. After everything I’ve been learning these past few weeks I thought I should step up and take over paying for his sperm storage bill, since he is helping with a lot of other bills. But I was too late, he had already made the phone call to stop his payments and discard the sperm. He sent me a text to let me know.

I sent a few panicked texts to him explaining why I thought this was a bad idea. I told him I was willing to take over payments. So I called the clinic right away and explained that we did not want to actually discard it and that I would take over the payments. I had to print off an automatic payment form, fill it out, yell at my printer for 10 minutes because it refused to scan it in, then I figured out to just take a picture of it with my phone to send it in. I spent the entire afternoon either on hold, playing phone tag, responding to messages from the financial department, while also responding to messages from my medical team. I even double checked that my embryo payment plan was still on track as well, since no change was suppose to happen with that. Their patient service representative reassured me, “Yeah you look good to go with your payments, I don’t see anything due yet for the month for your embryo storage.” I finally took a breath and thought I had everything sorted out.

But then the next morning I open my email and see a message from the clinic that looked like they were going to discard not only the sperm but also the embryo I have in storage. That right there was my what-the-f**k email, as in what the actual f**k is going on to where they would even think it’s okay to send me that email after I emphasized in a voicemail message, and through their online messaging portal, and verbally over the phone with two representatives that I did not want any sperm discarded and now they are lumping in discarding my embryo.

consent

Screenshot from the “WTF Email.”

I was beyond pissed, but I gathered enough composure to calmly send out another portal message, then spoke to a representative on the phone who then transferred me to leave a voicemail for the financial department. I later received a portal message that said essentially “disregard that email.” They then said, “Please fill out an updated payment form for your embryo storage” which totally contradicts what they told me yesterday when they told me everything was current. All of this just adds to the reasons I am not going to do any future IVF cycles with this clinic after my upcoming FET. I have only one embryo out of two rounds of IVF, that’s reason enough to give them the boot.

Increased AMH Level

On a completely different note, I finally got some of my recent blood test results back from my local OBGYN office. In December I decided to check my different blood levels, which are some of the ones the Modern Fertility test looks at. For the end of 2019 I opted to get the tests through my doctors office because I already met my out-of-pocket maximum so these tests would be free. But any other time I would have ordered the Modern Fertility test because it is way cheaper than testing at the doctors office. My doctor was out of the office but my nurse relayed the results to me. Here it is:

December 2019

AMH 0.63

FSH 15.8

Luteinizing hormone 9.4

Testosterone 13

Prolactin 22.4

Estradiol 17.6

Compare that to…

January 2018

AMH 0.19

FSH 0.5

Prolactin 12.0

My AMH (Anti-Müllerian hormone) level went up from 0.19 to 0.63 which I am really excited about. I’m so happy I could throw a party. I never thought it would increase at all, so to see it increase blew my mind. I feel sorry for anyone who does not deal with infertility and therefore does not understand the significance of this event. I’d say it’s equivalent to Jesus walking on water, or at least that’s what I tell myself.

Mini-Victories for the Week

Almost completely stopped adding sugar to coffee.

Drinking less coffee now down to just a few times a week.

Taking my blood pressure pills more regularly (thanks to phone alarms 😊 )

Created a daily checklist for FET prep that includes each supplement, cups of water, exercise, etc.  I will probably add more to the list if I learn any other things that may benefit me on a daily basis.

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Contacted fertility clinic to set date for FET in April.

Eating healthier than I normally do, including more veggies. Nom nom.

Resolved the “WTF email” I mentioned earlier without losing my s**t.

Stopped using my old coffee maker that had a lot of plastic components and tried our new french press. Plastic + heat =  toxic chemicals. Will be stopping coffee completely by Week 4 of my FET Prep, exactly 3 months before FET.

coffee maker

Work in Progress

Reduce gluten products from my diet.

Continue to incorporate more fruits and veggies in my life. 

Put peanut butter out of reach and a note on it to persuade me from using if I do reach it. Done and done. Now I just need to make sure I don’t crawl up there to reach it this upcoming week. Peanut butter is my kryptonite.

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weight

 

Want to find out how fertile you are? The Modern Fertility test is an affordable option that shows your hormone levels and gives you an overall picture of where you stand with your fertility. What hormones will they test? Depending on the type of birth control you are on they can test up to eight different hormone levels which may include:

AMH (Anti-mullerian hormone)

FSH (Follicle stimulating hormone)

E2 (Estradiol)

LH (Luteinizing hormone)

TSH (Thyroid stimulating hormone)

FT4 (Free thyroxine)

PRL (Prolactin)

T (Testosterone)

Order your test today.

Modern Fertility Test – Women’s Health Hormone Test You Can Take at Home – Not Available NY, NJ, RI

 

Dealing with Depression & Infertility

Dealing with Depression & Infertility

A list of helpful resources for depression, anxiety, and PTSD, can be found at the bottom of this post.

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Imagine your circle of friends getting smaller and smaller as they begin to have children, but you are still struggling to have your first. Your Facebook feed is full of baby pictures. One day you decide to unfollow their posts, but still remain friends with them. You do this so you don’t have to see the onslaught of picture after picture of the life you wish you could have. Baby’s first Christmas, baby’s first steps, baby’s first hair cut, followed with posts from their mother saying “You will never know true love until you have a child” followed by #momlife. You realize that you are an outsider and you do not belong, you can easily see how others draw the line in the sand of parents and non-parents. 

 

You go through phases of stopping social media altogether. It works for a while. But then you decide to join some infertility groups on Facebook. Over time you realize most of your feed is now instead filled with other women like yourself. 95% of the posts are filled with anxiety and depression from others with the other small 5% boasting “Possible trigger…BFP!” with a picture of their positive pregnancy test. You feel happy for them but also sad after years trying to have a baby. So you begin to unfollow the infertility groups as well, because it also becomes depressing. Maybe it’s time to take another break from social media altogether you think. You are trying to do what’s best for you but you wonder if you are isolating yourself more.

 

In real life, you feel you’ve been conditioned not to talk about your infertility or pregnancy losses. When people bring up the subject of “Why don’t you have kids yet? Don’t you want kids?”  You attempt to explain why you don’t have kids yet, almost everyone frowns, looks down briefly, and looks back up with a smile and says, “Have you thought of adopting?” They always say it as if they think they are the first person to suggest this idea to you. When you explain the average cost of adoption being $40,000-$50,000 and how you are nowhere near being able to adopt, they then say nervously, “You can do it. You’ll have kids some day” then they change the subject because they didn’t realize their small talk conversation relating to kids was headed in this direction. No one ever seems to consider the possibility that someone can’t have kids. And  later interactions they will continuously ask you, “How’s the baby thing going?” Now take that one person who does this, and multiply it by nearly everyone else you know. That’s what I experience on a daily basis. Sometimes I have no energy to respond further than just saying, “same.”

 

There are three types of people who ask about my infertility; 1) Those who genuinely care about my well being and want to check in with how I am doing, 2) those who bring it up as small talk but quickly become visibly uncomfortable, break eye contact, 3) and rubberneckers. I call them rubberneckers because they seem to get some weird satisfaction knowing my life is sh**ier than theirs. Another definition of a rubbernecking is “a human trait that is associated with morbid curiosity” (Wikipedia, 2020). Sometimes rubberneckers masquerade initially as people who care, but you can always find their true nature with their responses of “Wow, I’m glad I didn’t have to go through all of that! My pregnancies all went so easily. Let me show you pictures of my kids” or “I’m so happy I’m blessed with kids” and these types of statements are usually punctuated with laughs and smiles. The insinuation being, “I’m blessed and your not, so my life is better than yours.” Yeah, those are the most cringe-worthy conversations. They seem to be looking for a moment to boast about their life. Why even ask about my fertility issues if you just want to boast about your kids? I’d rather you just start off a conversation by boasting about your kids and not even ask about my fertility issues. Honestly, even the nicest people are rubberneckers and they are doing so unconsciously. I usually chalk it up to just a clumsy interaction. No one is perfect and people don’t always know how to navigate a conversation as delicate as infertility.

 

You want to be open about what you are going through because you’ve heard that talking about your infertility can be helpful, but few people know how to talk about the subject without it getting awkward. Finding support from friends and family can actually be quite difficult for many of us for this very reason. You learn ways to navigate conversations away from the subject of infertility by asking them questions instead that are focused on their life, because that seems to be what most people would rather be talking about anyway. Sometimes you are able to successfully change the subject completely and you smile inside knowing that psychology trick worked quite well and you are amazed at how easily people are distracted. They probably didn’t care that much anyway if they were that easily distracted into a different subject. Every once in a blue moon when you read people’s body language after the question, “How’s the baby thing going?” you see that they really do care. They are making eye contact, they aren’t distracted by anything else, their eyes don’t narrow as if you are being interrogated, their facial features actually soften, and everything else about their body language is open and ready to listen. This is a rare and beautiful moment that happens maybe once every few months. 

 

It’s hard to find support through infertility and those real heart-to-heart moments are so few and far between. But I know I can always turn to my people in the infertility forums. Although the forums can be quite depressing at times, they are the ones who truly get it. Dealing with pregnancy and infant loss is traumatic, so it’s no surprise that many of the posts in those groups are incredibly sad. I do feel happy when I see they finally post pictures of their first baby, but I quickly ask myself “When is it going to be my time?” Over time I’ve learned to be genuinely happy for them and ask that question less and less. I’ve learned to compartmentalize in a way of, “that’s their life” and “this is mine,” it helps somewhat. 

There are some images burned in my memory I cannot erase. I have nightmares all the time. Nightmares of another miscarriage happening to my body. Nightmares of a stillborn baby. Nightmares of the infant in my dreams being the color blue and I’m running around screaming for someone to help but everyone just stares at me, offering no solution. Every single dream that starts off hopeful with a pregnancy or a baby ends badly, because that’s the only thing I’ve known in real life. 

I was losing sleep from my nightmares. I was waking up almost every night in the middle of my sleep. I was functioning on 3-5 hours of sleep daily for months, despite trying sleeping pills. On top of all of that I was convinced for months that Kurtis would leave me if my upcoming FET didn’t work. I finally talked with him about it and he said he wouldn’t and he’d be happy with biological or adopted children, and even if we choose to live child-free. But at times when I talk to him I can also tell that it is emotionally just too much to deal with in the moment, so I’ve been trying to handle it myself.

 

My OBGYN apparently could see I couldn’t even muster pretending to be optimistic. He asked how I am handling everything, if I am seeing a therapist, what I am doing to cope, etc. He went so far as to ask if I wanted a prescription of antidepressants. It’s not everyday that an OBGYN offers antidepressants. I let him know that I’ve been seeing a therapist occasionally to talk about my infertility for a while now, which seemed to give him some relief. Up until my OBGYN asked me if I was depressed I feel like I was in denial of my depression. Deep down I think I knew I was depressed, but I was going about life like I wasn’t. But here I had my OBGYN in front of me, looking very concerned, saying he was ready and willing to give me a prescription. I told him “no thank you” and explained I would rather treat it through natural means since I used to get severe migraines from antidepressants. I had tried literally a dozen antidepressants in the past and each of them made me want to shoot myself more from the physical pain than I had already wanted to from the emotional pain. Needless to say I absolutely needed an alternative to antidepressants. My doctor suggested increasing my activity level and exercising more and to also “get out of the state, go someplace warm.” I most likely have Seasonal Affective Disorder on top of my depression, so the idea of getting the hell out of cold, dark Alaska sounded great to me.

 

I followed my doctors advice and I booked a trip to Nevada to visit with my husband’s family and to help boost my mood. We’ll be going here pretty soon. I am so happy to be getting out of the state since the temperature has been steady this past week around -10 degrees (that’s Fahrenheight, for my foreign readers). This is the coldest and darkest time of the year. I am so ready to get the f**k out of this state and bake under the Nevada sun. 

 

I’ve also been exercising more and eating better than I normally do. I am slowly starting to lose weight. I feel like exercise helps me feel a little better initially afterward, but I think I need to exercise twice daily to continue to elevate my mood. I do think that movement and nutrition are some of the best ways to help you pull yourself out of depression. I’ve been watching funny movies, listening to music, talking with a therapist, and having open conversations with family about my depression. 

 

I know I’m not the only one dealing with depression combined with infertility and pregnancy loss. Some days are absolutely terrible for me, but I still go about my day and do the things I need to. Sometimes my house is messier than I like because I’m curled up on the couch watching a marathon of comedies to help boost my mood before I start the dishes and anything else I need to do. Sometimes I’d rather rest in bed under the warm blankets and listen to music rather than going out. I know that this depression will pass eventually, because it always does. 

 

For those of you reading this that are also dealing with depression, whether severe or minor, I suggest you at least talk with a professional, such as a therapist. If you are seeking spiritual support in addition to a therapist consider speaking to your pastor or ask if they provide spiritual counseling at your church. Have an objective person to help you figure out the best ways you can cope. Consider temporarily taking medication if you are able to. If you try one way of coping and it doesn’t quite work, try another one. Each day will be different, so you might need to try different coping strategies depending on what is going on. Eventually I plan on writing more about coping strategies. But at this current moment I need to cope with a cup of coffee, cuddling with my dog and cat (I’m pet sitting a kitty now!), and watching the overly bubbly morning newscasters giggle about things that aren’t even that funny, because for some reason that makes me feel good too…mirror neurons I suppose.

 

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Are you currently experiencing depression, anxiety, PTSD or other similar symptoms with your infertility and you would like someone to talk to? Here are some resources for you:

RESOLVE HelpLine: 866-NOT-ALONE (866-668-2566) (United States)

SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: 1-800-662-HELP or 1-800-662-4357 (United States)

Fertility Network: 0121-323-5025 (United Kingdom)

BICA – British Infertility Counselling Association (United Kingdom)

List of Suicide Crisis Lines (Worldwide by country)

FET Prep Week 1: 3.5 months until FET

FET Prep Week 1: 3.5 months until FET

Some say preparing for a Frozen Embryo Transfer is like preparing for the Olympics. The three months prior to the actual transfer are the most important time to make healthy changes to increase the chances of an embryo sticking. Some books tell you to go dairy free, gluten free, processed-food free, and everything-but-fruit-and-veggies free. Limit your toxins, eliminate foods that inflame, don’t paint your nails, don’t eat deli meat, don’t do this or that, or anything really. Just sit in your little safe bubble at home, without any makeup on, without deodorant, and eat rabbit food for three months. If you have any OCD tendencies prepping for a FET is enough to make your head explode because you so want to follow the advice to a T, but if you followed it all you might just lose your marbles. But others with a more laissez-faire approach may tell you, “It was so easy, you basically just show up and bloop they put the embryo in.” 

So how can you not lose your mind through this process? And where do I fall on the diverse spectrum of those preparing for a FET? I’d like to aim at the more reasonable approach, using the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the time I’d like to follow my plan, and 20 percent of the time I might allow some wiggle room. I know myself. I know that if I go full bore at first I’m probably going to throw in the towel more easily because it’s so vastly different from how I normally live. But by already allowing myself to have some wiggle room with how I eat, exercise, and use beauty products, I am eliminating the excuse of it being “too much.” Because it’s not too much if you have reasonable expectations.

My goal is to follow the Mediterranean diet at least 80% of the time. From what I understand it’s basically Pescatarian with occasional meat other than fish. It includes fruits, veggies, fish, healthy oils, and avoiding processed food to name a few. I was Pescatarian in 2019 for about four months but I was still eating processed food. In the book It Starts with the Egg by Rebecca Fett she writes about studies that have shown a correlation between following the Mediterranean diet and increased fertility. I need to learn more about the specifics, I have a general idea of what to expect. 

As far as exercise, I’d like to aim for 30-60 minutes per day, six days per week. I was working overnight shift but I recently stopped to improve my overall health. I think this will make it easier to have a regular workout time now. I’m thinking of working out first thing in the morning before work. I have a treadmill at home I use a couple times a week but I plan on using it more often now. I paid ahead for a punch card to go swimming, which I haven’t done in a long time. I’m looking forward to getting back into swimming. Fall and winter time I tend to slip into hibernation mode and I exercise less, and I need to break out of that cycle. 

I woke up on New Year’s Eve with a bad cold. I spent most of the night in bed with my head under the covers grumbling at the sound of popping fireworks and went back to sleep. I didn’t have any exciting plans for the night anyway so I feel like I didn’t miss much. When I reflect back on 2019 it was just okay. It wasn’t terrible, but it could have been better. Honestly, it was a challenging year dealing with two more miscarriages and more surgeries. I realized I’m a lot stronger than I thought, having dealt with this for several years. But this year I want to focus on some healthy coping habits that will help me deal with whatever the outcome is from this upcoming FET.

 

I saw a post on facebook I liked relating to New Years Resolutions…

 

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I decided I wanted to do a similar New Years Resolution and came up with this instead…

 

This New Year

 

And to be more specific I came up with the following hobbies to pursue for myself:

Mind: Write a novel.

Body: Train for my first “running” 5k.

Creative Spirit: Learn how to make at several pieces of jewelry.

 

I’ve done 5k’s but I’ve never actually ran in them, I would always walk in them. But this time I want to try my hand at running it. Training for a 5k and maybe a 10k later on will help me get in shape for my FET. I decided to set a weight loss goal I would like to achieve before my FET. My goal is to try to lose 20 pounds before mid-April 2020, which is currently a little over three months away. 

 

 

So much of my life revolves around trying to have a baby. But if I start to pursue other hobbies I’m passionate about, I think it will help me to have a better year. I’m hoping 2020 will bring more growth and that each of you will also find something this year to lift your spirits. Happy New Year!

 

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read the disclosure here

 

Experiencing infertility or recurrent miscarriages? You might have a genetic issue and not even know it. 23andMe offers one of the most comprehensive genetic testing services on the market. Click here to order the 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service: Personal Genetic DNA Test Including Health Predispositions, Carrier Status, Wellness, and Trait Reports.

Book Review: “Empty Arms” by Pam Vredevelt

Book Review: “Empty Arms” by Pam Vredevelt

HopingForBaby.com Rating: 3 out of 5

If you’ve experienced pregnancy or infant loss Empty Arms: Hope and Support for Those Who Have Suffered a Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Tubal Pregnancy by Pam Vredevelt might provide you with some comfort as you go through the grieving process. She writes about her own experience with grieving the loss of her baby and how it impacted her life. She turned her pain into something greater than herself, by helping others through their grieving processes. Vredevelt found meaning and purpose through providing counseling to others through her own private practice. In her book she talks about how important her Christian faith was to her as well as other people in her life as they dealt with their loss. 

I liked that she talked about different coping skills that she found helpful as well as what other women found to be helpful. Anyone dealing with grief wants to learn different ways to move through the grief and not let it debilitate them. Some of her suggestions included talking to someone who they feel could understand, listen to uplifting songs and podcasts, find a project or hobby to keep you busy, and slow down your routine so as not to overschedule yourself. The biggest coping skill she discussed was studying the Bible. Personally, I am not that religious, but I feel that people who are Christian might get a lot out of this book. She provides Bible quotations that some might find helpful as they cope with their loss. For those who are struggling with their faith and asking “Why did God allow this to happen?” they may find the Biblical quotes give them guidance and help heal their pain.

I think if you are a devout Christian and have experienced pregnancy or infant loss, this book may be just the thing you are looking for. But if you practice any other faith, are agnostic, or atheist and you feel aversive to Biblical references this book might be a difficult read for you. For a woman who is currently grieving and under a tremendous amount of stress, I would probably tell her to wait a bit before reading this book because it may come across as Pollyanna. The author essentially explains that seeing the big picture of God’s plan can help someone cope. But when someone is in the depths of their grief this big-picture thinking may not provide immediate comfort. 

I felt like there were parts in the book that were overly graphic, relating to the details of miscarriage. Why go into so much graphic detail? I feel like the graphic detail isn’t helpful and can actually be harmful for readers who are really struggling to cope. The author shares her own experience as well as other people’s stories which go into such vivid detail. A single experience of trauma is enough, readers may not want to hear multiple stories of trauma on top of their own. My advice to readers who choose to read the book is if you feel parts of the book are too difficult to read, simply skip ahead a bit. Or you can wait until you feel like you are able to handle these stories. 

Overall, I felt like this was a good read because it covers a lot of ways to emotionally heal, mostly on a spiritual level. Sometimes our biggest struggle to healing is trying to understand why our baby died. This book attempts to explain on a spiritual level why something such as pregnancy and infant loss happens. Even if you are not Christian there are good nuggets of advice that anyone can benefit from. This book may bring you much needed peace. 

 

“Empty Arms: Hope and Support for Those Who Have Suffered a Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Tubal Pregnancy”by Pam Vredevelt

 

“Empty Arms Journal: 21 Days of Good Grief Exercises for Healing After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or the Loss of a Baby” by Pam Vredevelt and Yvonne Parks.

Movie Review: “Private Life”

Movie Review: “Private Life”

Private Life (2018)

Writer & Director: Tamara Jenkins

Length: 2h 3min

Watch on Netflix

HopingForBaby.com Rating: 5 out of 5

Heads up, this review contains some spoilers so go watch the movie first on Netflix.

Damn! “Private Life” dives right into the deep end, with all the raw emotions that come up with infertility, IVF, and egg donation. It was funny at times, but mostly poignant (in a good way). Rachel (played by Kathryn Hahn) and Richard (played by Paul Giamatti) are in their 40s and have done multiple IUIs and now have to try out other means of artificial reproduction.

Rachel is categorized as having “advanced maternal age,” a medical term for women over 35 years old. Now they’ve reached the point of needing to do IVF due to Richard’s very low sperm count, plus he only has one testicle. Richard has to endure the cringe-worthy surgery called TESE (Testicular Sperm Extraction). I had preconceptions of what men go through during the IVF process and how they have it “easy.” But after learning about TESE, I take that back. The movie didn’t show the TESE surgery, just Richard holding an ice pack on his crotch afterwards in the hospital while Rachel was lying next to him, post-surgery from her egg retrieval. There was a bittersweet solidarity between the two of them in that moment. 

But infertility has a way of wedging in between couples, and they inevitably have both minor and major fights. I watched this movie when it was first released in 2018, prior to my IVF procedures, and then I decided to watch it again after two rounds of IVF and only one resulting embryo. The first time I watched it I thought it was depressing. But the second time watching it I was shaking my head in agreement with many of the scenes. I genuinely liked how real it is, unlike some of the YouTube infertility couples that seem so glossy and keep me wondering, “Okay…but how do you really feel?” 

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Credit: Medium.com

Richard and Rachel face facts and realize that IVF probably will not work for Rachel again. They decide to look into egg donation. Initially they were considering an anonymous donor but then decided to ask Sadie, Richard’s step-niece (not biologically related). Rachel thought this might be a good idea because she wanted it to be someone they knew. Sadie is a 25-year-old college drop out, unemployed, and has time on her hands to help out her step-uncle and step-aunt. Sadie undergoes the same egg retrieval process Rachel already went through before, minus the embryo transfer. Sadie learns she is a poor responder to the medication and that she has incredibly low egg count for her age. Her egg count is on par with a woman in their 40s. Had she not decided to be an egg donor she might not have known about her fertility issues. Sadie’s mother Cynthia (played by Molly Shannon) was totally against her daughter doing the egg retrieval. I like how this conflict erupted during Thanksgiving, because there’s no better time to have angry disagreement than on Thanksgiving Day. Although Cynthia was never on-board with her daughter’s decision and she comes across as not understanding, I think Cynthia just wanted what was best for her daughter.

On the surface, this movie might seem like a downer. But I found “Private Life” to be refreshing with its fearless exploration of what happens not only to the couple experiencing infertility but also the extended family. It’s also about grieving, over and over again. Richard and Rachel had to grieve for every failed IUI, failed IVF from both Rachel’s eggs and Sadie’s eggs, and also a failed adoption (birth mother got their hopes up then disappeared). It’s an accumulation of grief over time but also a testament to their perseverance, and perseverance does not have to be pretty. It can be furious, depressed, hopeful, and mournful. It can be also be found in those moments of caring for our emotions independently, rather than relying on our partner to build us back up. It can be found in sharing what we really think, even when we know it will hurt our partner to hear it. 

But perseverance can also be found together as a couple through the shared experience of loss and moving forward with whatever happens next. I think “Private Life” showed all of the above and ended beautifully with the scene of them in the diner, waiting to meet a birth mother who might adopt to them. We don’t know how Rachel and Richard’s story ends, other than seeing the spark of hope come back into their eyes as they patiently wait. 

 

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read the disclosure here

 

Experiencing infertility or recurrent miscarriages? You might have a genetic issue and not even know it. 23andMe offers one of the most comprehensive genetic testing services on the market. Click here to order the 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service: Personal Genetic DNA Test Including Health Predispositions, Carrier Status, Wellness, and Trait Reports.

Featured Image Credit: https://southasiansnews.com/2018/10/02/private-life-a-movie-about-a-marriage-in-crisis-offers-a-new-depiction-of-infertility/

 

Movie Review: “Making Babies”

Movie Review: “Making Babies”

“Making Babies” (2019)

Writer & Director: Josh F. Huber

Length: 87 minutes

Watch on Amazon

HopingForBaby.com Rating: 4 out of 5

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read the disclosure here

Spoiler Alert! Click here to watch the movie first if don’t want to read some of the spoilers below.

I don’t care about what movie critics say, this was a good movie. I see it as a rom-com with infertility as the main conflict in the storyline. It was funny, surprisingly funny. It was really silly at times, but in a good way. I laughed out loud when Katie (played by Eliza Coupe) used an Irish accent to talk dirty to her husband John (played by Steve Howey) as she “assisted” her husband John (played by Steve Howey) in the specimen room. I haven’t laughed that hard in a while. In fact, I don’t know any other movie out there like this one that has taken the subject of infertility and had a good balance of dealing with real emotions while also having funny moments too.

I feel many of the scenes and dialogue were inspired by personal experiences because the different scenarios were all too familiar for those of us dealing with infertility, including cliched advice. Katie’s sister-in-law Maria (played by Elizabeth Rodriguez) told Katie to “just relax,” “go on vacation,” and “Have you thought about adopting?” Although the intention is to be helpful, most of us who’ve struggled with infertility know those statements are overused and become incredibly annoying to hear over and over again. But Maria makes up for it later by apologizing and telling Katie she didn’t realize how difficult it really was for her until she saw how long Katie had been struggling to conceive. Katie and Maria are on the opposite ends of the fertility spectrum, with Maria having three children right after getting married while Katie was still struggling to conceive after five years. But Maria opened up to Katie and explained how she had panic attacks after having her first child. Maria expressed that she didn’t think she could tell others about her postpartum mental health. And Katie might not have felt comfortable talking about her infertility at times. Although this scene happened at a fairly fast clip in the movie, I felt like there was gold in that moment. The societal expectations of women becoming mothers and what being a “good mother” looks like weighed on both Maria and Katie but in different ways. I think there was a really good message in that moment, we can still support each other even if we haven’t walked the same path as other women. 

I liked how there seemed to be an equal amount of both Katie’s perspective as well as John’s. After trying to conceive for five years and spending so much money on IUI and IVF it started to weigh on them not just financially but also emotionally. There was a very raw scene near the end of the movie where they have an argument. Although it didn’t fit the majority of the movie’s comedic feel, that scene was so important to show. Their fight was about the huge toll infertility treatments were taking on not only their finances but their emotional health as well. John sacrificed starting up his dream brewery business in order to put money towards the cost of treatment. Katie explained how she had to sacrifice so much physically and emotionally.  

After watching that scene it felt like the argument was inspired by a real event. Most couples doing infertility treatment will reach a point where they begin to question when they should stop treatments. Based on my own experience as well as many of my online friends doing treatment have said, at some point you are going to disagree on when and whether to stop treatments. Many times couples are not on the same page or have a hard time figuring out a reasonable compromise. It takes a lot of good communication and listening to each other to figure this out.

For many of us that is our reality, we put all our other hopes and dreams on hold. Our dream of having a child demands a hefty price to pay. The average cost for one round of IVF is between $10,000 – $20,000. The overly simplified “just adopt” solution we get told often is incredibly expensive too, averaging at $40,000 – $50,000. It was no wonder John and Katie reached a breaking point when they had no money left and no patience left with each other either.  

Director and writer Josh Huber did an excellent job showing how many of us put everything on the line in order to try to start a family. I liked that he also had Katie and John reach a pivotal point in their relationship where they either need to stop trying in order to stay together, or choose to go their separate ways. Many couples struggling with infertility have gone through this. I personally know of several friends whose relationships ended due to infertility, it’s sadly common. I think that Josh Huber initially grabs our attention with the humorous aspects of infertility and he drives it home with a really good message knowing when to focus on your partner and when to take a break from trying to conceive. 

Some movie critics wrote some snarky and downright mean things about this movie. I definitely get the sense those people never experienced infertility. Yes, the movie had some cheesy and silly moments, but overall I thought it was a good movie. The only reason I gave it a 4 out of 5 was part of the storyline was confusing. The doctor told Katie that she had nothing wrong with her at all, and that their infertility was due to John’s low sperm count. But then later they talked about how Katie had several infertility issues and this was part of their argument. I don’t recall any mention of Katie learning she had issues in her doctor’s visits. So for John to say in their argument something to the effect of he didn’t want to be with someone who couldn’t have kids, it didn’t make sense to me.

I like that it showed a good amount of the male perspective through John’s character. I feel like we need to hear more of the male perspective relating to infertility. I think that a good amount of men feel they need to “suck it up” and not express their disappointment, anger, and even depression during infertility. But this can really drive a wedge between partners. It’s okay to show emotion during those times because it is a very emotional experience. Holding it all in does no one any good. When John blew up at Katie I felt like it was that kind of situation, where he was holding things in for so long until it finally boiled over. Even though us women may be injecting ourselves with the medicine and dealing with the physical aspect of fertility treatments, this does not mean our partner’s are not going through a lot of stress and emotions around the whole process. This movie did a good job of showing that. I recommend watching this movie yourself, and tell me what you think in the comments below. What parts of the movie did you like?

 

Watch the movie “Making Babies” on Amazon by clicking here.

 

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Merry Stressmas!

Merry Stressmas!

I am so happy to be off of this birth control! I was having daily headaches that turned into full-blown migraines 2-3 times per week. I am almost positive it was due to the birth control my doctor wanted me on until my FET next year. I was supposed to be on birth control to prevent pregnancy for six months after my last miscarriage. I am in this really sensitive time window during these six months because if I were to get pregnant now I am at high risk of developing Gestational Trophoblastic Disease, due to my last miscarriage being a partial molar pregnancy. But my quality of life really sucked with all the headaches that I decided enough was enough and I stopped. Technically I don’t need to be on birth control until just prior to my FET in April. And just like that, I’d say my daily headaches dropped to one or two in a week that were not that bad. So I’m convinced the biggest contributor of my recent headaches were the birth control pills.

For some reason when I went to refill my prescription for my migraine medicine the pharmacy said that they had “closed” that medicine. I ended up playing phone tag between my doctors office and my pharmacy of the next couple days. By that point I woke up with a killer migraine and it took all day for them to fill my prescription even after I had called several times. I’m talking one of those migraines where you wish you were dead. Yes, that bad. My husband drove me to the pharmacy and then picked us up dinner. I just laid in the car silent the whole time because I couldn’t even stand the sound of my own talking reverberating through my head. I was so thankful when the medicine finally kicked in because I really don’t need another ER bill.

I suppose my $800 out-of-pocket ER trip from earlier this year for a migraine actually was worth it because I got a good piece of advice from a nurse there. She said there is a place here in town that does IV hydration therapy had they use almost all the same IV medicine that the ER does for only $170. Say what?! I have yet to try them out, but that is a $630 savings for essentially the same medicine. 

With my miscarriage earlier in the year and then another one in 2019 there were a lot of medical bills. I had multiple ultrasounds, many blood draws, several surgeries for miscarriages, and post-op follow-ups, it’s no wonder I had so many bills that it was hard to keep track of it all. This year alone I had 28 separate medical bills, only three of which were written off because I had gone over the out-of-pocket maximum for the year. 

So why am I talking about all my medical bills? Because one medical bill derailed my debt-repayment plan which included being debt free by the end of the year. I was waiting for one of my medical bills to come in the mail, but never received it and I had assumed it had been one of the ones I didn’t need to pay because I reached the out-of-pocket maximum of $6,800. The insurance company told me that I would not get a bill once I reached my out-of-pocket max. I was set up on a payment plan already with the hospital for a different bill. To my surprise, and without discussing it with me, they added that second bill into my payment plan which increased my total amount of debt. As it turns out that bill was just prior to me reaching the out-of-pocket max so I still need to pay it. 

 

 

This one stupid bill created a domino effect. I wasn’t going to have enough money for giving the Christmas presents that I wanted to this year. I won’t have enough for the Vegas vacation in January I planned at my doctor’s urging. He said, “You two really need a break. Go some place warm and enjoy yourself.” I won’t have spending money now for that trip, so I’m not sure how I’m going to enjoy it. I was also going to use some of that money to cover the expenses for my trip to Seattle to do my FET. That one, unexpected f**king bill ruined a lot of s**t for me. 

For the most part, I try not to let things get to me. But this bill became the most recent slap in the face from reality that just when you think you are almost getting ahead, you will be knocked back down. Money is tight already. I’m working my last overnight shift tonight. Overnight shift pays slightly more but you sacrifice so much for your health by working overnights. At my OBGYN’s and my neurologists’ urging they insisted I stop working overnights because it was probably contributing to my sleep deprivation, migraines, growing waistline, and high blood pressure. My husband could see that I was getting more and more irritable working that shift. So for health reasons I decided absolutely no more overnights starting mid-December. 

The problem with this change is now I have less options for the other shifts to work (I’m an on-call worker). There is more competition for shifts working days and evenings. For example, my boss texted me about two open shifts, a good chunk of money that would have really helped me. I didn’t hear my phone though. When I saw it 15 minutes later, I responded that I would take the shifts, but I was already too late and someone else had taken them. 

I thought about getting a regular day job but there are two problems with that; 1) We already have our tickets booked for our trip to Vegas near the end of January, and 2) I had planned on not working if I got pregnant from my FET in April. So if I got another job now, they might not be so accommodating if I tell them “Yeah I’m going to be gone several weeks in January and February. And oh by the way I’m also going on another trip in April and I’m not coming back to work after that. So is it cool if I just work a few weeks here and there and then you won’t see me at all after April?” I know I’m being flip about it, but that’s essentially what I’d have to tell them if I was being truly honest about my schedule. That’s why being an on-call worker is kind of a better fit at the moment. But if my hours really slow down and I don’t have enough to pay bills, well I just might have to find a temporary job to hold me over until April. New job equals new stress. And like most of us are advised by our doctors, “find ways to reduce stress in the months prior to the frozen embryo transfer.” Riiiiight. Merry Stressmas to me. I might be a Grinch this Christmas, but I know it can always be worse, I guess that gives me some comfort.

 

Blue Typographic Christmas Card

 

 

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