Thursday, August 25, 2016

Fertility Journey | Clomid

DISCLAIMER: Don't read if you don't want to read about female anatomy. I feel like the title might explain that, but still you have been warned.

A few may have noticed that I stopped sharing our fertility journey. At first, I stopped sharing because I did not want to announce to the whole wide world when exactly I was going through fertility treatments because I did not want the whole wide world to know when exactly we would be taking a pregnancy test. The deeper we got into fertility treatments the more I wanted to protect myself and my husband wanted to protect me. Fertility treatments can be a dangerous topic because not everyone has the same idea of what is right and what is wrong. Not everyone has the same beliefs as me or views on the topic. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I did not want to share what we were doing and what was so hard for me to go through only to have someone go onto my blog and ridicule me for my choices. Choices that were not easy for me to make and choices that I am 100% confident in, but not everyone can understand my journey. I was not willing to be vulnerable to what people may have to say about what we were doing. So I kept my journey to myself and shared it with those around me who I knew would support our every move and decision. I wanted to keep the negativity out since I was already feeling vulnerable and hormonal. However, the deeper I got into fertility treatments the harder it was to find people who had been in my shoes and had a story to share with me. Whenever I wanted to hear about someone's experiences I turned to where I knew I could always find a personal story, on someone else's blog. The more I looked the more I realized that it was hard to find a quality blog that really helped me. I found a few that I am still following, but everyone's journey is just so different that I was still having troubles finding ones I really liked. Once I found a few I loved, I poured myself into reading every detail that I could, sometimes reading the same posts more than once. Because I don't know too many people personally who have been where I was and I needed to hear someones story that told me what a procedure was going to be like and what to expect. I needed to know that because that is just how I am. I am not someone who makes absent choices or someone who can just roll with things. I want to go into a situation and know what to expect or at least the basics. I was having troubles finding that. That is what changed my mind about sharing my fertility journey. Because even if I can only help one person, that is one person that needed help in tough time in their life and I know how that feels. Even if I get 100 people telling me they do not agree with my choices, as long as I can help one person in their struggle I can handle the haters. That is one more person who can feel more comfortable going into a scary and unknown situation, and that is worth it.

So if you need to catch up you can read what I wrote way back in February and March, starting from the beginning, and then our first visit to the fertility specialist along with the HSG test. The last thing I wrote about was the HSG test that we had in January so we will start from there. After that test and our labs came back normal, we moved onto treatment options.

Written between February 13 and March 10.

I decided to write down what was going through my head and any feelings I had about the process on each day and record them in one post. That way you can follow along with me and know what was happening on each day, but I don't have to share a post on each individual day. Plus, this gives me the opportunity to share this information when I feel ready to share, instead of having to keep up with it in real time. It is the best of both worlds in my opinion. I can share how I am feeling going through this without feeling like I am sharing something I am not ready to talk about.

Richard and I were advised to go ahead and start with an IUI, which stands for intrauterine insemination, aka, artificial insemination. This is when they take sperm and inject it directly into the uterus at the exact time that an egg is also passing through your fallopian tubes. This way the sperm does not actually need to travel far, it is already there and the idea is that it is easier to conceive. But first, since we (my doctor included) were not entirely sure that my fertility problems are not a result of poor ovulation, we opted to try one cycle with just fertility medication and "timed intercourse". Ha. It sounds so technical. Cloimid is a prescription that basically makes your body to produces eggs and then, timed with a shot, force ovulation. Our hope was that if I had a real and strong ovulation, that maybe it would lead to a pregnancy without any hard core treatment. It was something we did not have to try, but it was something that we, especially Richard, wanted to try before moving on to an IUI. One month doesn't hurt right?

Day 0:
Tomorrow we head to the doctor in order to start our first round of clomid. I have been looking forward to this month because it is the first month where we will be really trying something. However, I am sitting here and I am extremely nervous. I don't even really know why I am nervous because it should be exciting to do something, but it is just how I am feeling. I have so much running through my head. How will the drugs affect me. Will it make this week at work harder. Was this the right choice. Is it too soon to even be heading down this road. How crazy would it be if this actually worked. What if it doesn't work. Will this all be for nothing. What if it works so well that we end up with twins (which by the way is extremely possible and I know someone personally who had that happen to them). Twins could be fun. Any baby at this point would be fun. I need to keep reminding myself that all of this will be worth it. All of the fear and the steps will be worth it when we have a sweet baby to cuddle. This is one of those times where I wish I had a crystal ball and I could see what my future actually looks like. I think the biggest fear is knowing that it may not work. That none of this is a guarantee and I could still end up with nothing. But, I have to stay positive and hope that this will be it and who knows, maybe in a month's time we will be holding that positive pregnancy test. It could happen.

Cycle Day 3 (Clomid Day 1):
We went to the doctor today so that they could check that my cycle had truly started and that the lining of my uterus was thin. They also drew some labs to determine if my hormones were good. Once I got the green light that everything was fine, they gave me permission to start taking Clomid. I started with 100 mg and will be taking the drug for the next 5 days. Since I did not get my prescription until this evening, I will be taking them at night after dinner every night this week. So far (I took my medicine about an hour ago) so good and nothing out of the ordinary going on.
Cycle Day 4 (Clomid Day 2):
I was feeling pretty good this morning with no symptoms really and it really hit me when I woke up this morning that this could be THE month that we actually get pregnant. It is exciting and scary at the same time. As the day wore on, I started to get a little nauseous but it would come and go. I also have some pain in my chest that I think could be heartburn, but I have no idea because I have never had that before. Also, I am just really tired, but I don't know if that is a result of the drug. It was a pretty uneventful day with a little pain and an early bedtime. Lastly, every time I get annoyed/frustrated/upset about something, Richard gives me a look like I am crazy and he can't tell if it's me or the drugs. I don't think I am being crazy, but he seems to think so.

Cycle Day 5 (Clomid Day 3):
I have had zero symptoms today. Like none. Ok, maybe I was a little bit shorter with my kids at work, but nothing too bad and I felt totally in control. It is sort of making me nervous that I have not had any sort of symptoms thus far. Does that mean it is not working? We will find out in five days I suppose. Also, trying to fall asleep on this night was extremely hard. It took me forever and I was extremely hot while trying to fall asleep. This might not be the drugs though because Richard was keeping me awake.

Cycle Day 6 (Clomid Day 4):
Today was just an all around bad day. Since I had troubles sleeping the night before that left me tired and cranky for work. Then throw in the fact that I had to take over someone's class and her class was so crazy made it even worse. I left work crabby and had an extremely bad headache. I went to yoga like I normally do on Thursday nights and that helped me feel much better. I can't even say for sure that the day was a result of the medicine because it was such a crazy day even without the added complications.

Cycle Day 7 (Clomid Day 5):
Today is my last day of clomid and I still feel no different. The worst symptoms I have had thus far is feeling super hot in the middle of the night when I roll over. Other than that, the medicine has not really affected me all that much. We go in for another ultrasound in a few days and then we will see how things are progressing. I am crossing my fingers that the medicine did its job.

Cycle Day 8-9:
I have been feeling some slight cramping in my lower abdomen. The pain has been mostly concentrating on my left side and it feel like a stabby/achy kind of pain. I think it is my ovaries just working extra hard which means I probably have some egg development going on.

Cycle Day 10:
We had an ultrasound scheduled today with our fertility doctor. We went in before work and luckily this time we only waited in the waiting room for about 5 minutes. They then took us back to check to see if I have any follicles developing. The first thing my doctor noticed was that the lining of my uterus was thinner than she would have liked it to be so she prescribed me some estrogen pills. This is a side effect because of the Clomid. She then checked my ovaries for follicles. On the right side, she found one that was about 13 mm (ideal is above 18mm). On the left side she found a big one at 17.5 mm and a smaller one at about 14 mm. No wonder my left side was hurting more. She said that the big one was likely to be ready to ovulate soon so she wanted us to come back the next day for another ultrasound. She thinks the other two follicles are too small to ovulate so we will only have one egg released this month. After my appointment, I went to drop off my estrogen prescription and when the medicine was ready the pharmacy tech told me to make sure that I do not get pregnant while taking this medicine so I need to use birth control. Wait, what? My fertility doctor prescribed me this medication? The tech then said that it is something they have to tell me but that I should check with my doctor as to why they have me on this drug. So I called the doctor and they said that it is fine to use while trying to get pregnant and that it is needed in my case and that they prescribe it all the time so not to worry. Then Richard found some information online that said that a long time ago they had issues with synthetic estrogen causing problems so now they are overly cautious and warn people even though it is not really a risk anymore. I will have to take this twice a day until either I don't get pregnant or if I do get pregnant the baby is 10 weeks along.

Cycle Day 11:
We had a second ultrasound this morning. My doctor just wanted to double check that the follicle was actually big enough to ovulate. The bigger follicle measured around 19 mm and the two smaller ones had not developed a whole lot more than the day before. I was given instructions from my doctor to give myself a shot to trigger ovulation, aka trigger shot. Since I am not the biggest fan of needles I asked Richard to give me the shot instead. The shot will trigger ovulation most likely 36 hours after administered. We had to learn from a fertility nurse how to mix the medicine and then administer the shot. My sister (who is a nurse) also helped me a little bit. Richard gave me the shot that night and I am pretty sure he did it wrong. My sister told me it was not really going to hurt, but it hurt pretty bad for a while. You are supposed to squeeze the skin on the stomach and then inject into the lifted skin. Well, Richard did not aim well and missed the area he should have shot in and if he would have made it, it would have been less painful. For the rest of the night I had a pretty sizable red spot surrounding the injection sight. It was also really itchy and anytime my shirt rubbed it or I accidentally touched it I would get shooting pain.
P.S. When you have medicine like this show up on your doorstep it is extremely intimidating. This was the first time we had to do a shot at home and it was terrifying. After we learned how to administer the shot, however, we felt much more confident.
Cycle Day 12:
My stomach is still a little sore today. I have a bruise surrounding the area of the shot but the redness has gone away. I can also feel the follicles in my lower abdomen and I still have the achey/stabby pain.

Cycle Day 13:
This pretty much sums it up...
Cycle Day 14:
Ahh the two week wait. I just hope these days go by quick!

Cycle Day 18:
Richard and I were in a car accident where we got t-boned in a parking lot. I was in a lot of pain following the accident and was worried about how this was going to affect me getting pregnant.

Cycle Day 26:
I started spotting today. Which is the telltale sign for me that I am about to start my period. I am super bummed, but still a little hopeful. Its funny because the first 10 days of my two week wait I cannot wait until I know if I am pregnant or not. I spent the last 10 days obsessing over my doctor appointment and counting down the days until I can find out. It was the only thing I could think about. The last few days however I start to not want to know because as long as I don't know I can still be hopeful of a successful month.

Cycle Day 27:
I had a doctor appointment today to confirm a pregnancy. Since the trigger shot I took was basically a shot of HSG, I could not take a home pregnancy test to confirm pregnancy because it takes up to two weeks for the HSG to clear my system and that is what the home tests detect. So the doctor drew some blood to see if I was pregnant or not. I was already pretty sure I was not at this point. A nurse called me back on my lunch break to tell me that I am for sure not pregnant. She told me to stop taking my estrogen medication and then my period will start within the next week and then I can call to schedule an appointment to get the next cycle started again.

We ended the month unsuccessfully, but this just means that we are ready to move on to the next treatment option. More to come in the next few weeks.

Costs:
I know that when we started this journey we really had no idea how much anything would cost. Since I am the type of person to share everything I figured I may as well share this too. That way if anyone else is wondering they will have an idea. Each doctor's office is different I am sure and each insurance is different as well. We have great insurance which is a huge help in this and they will cover up to a certain dollar amount of all fertility specific procedures, but everything else is covered under our normal insurance. Until we meet our deductible, we are paying full price for everything. Our insurance also has contracted prices for different types of appointments, such as consults vs ultrasound vs blood draws.

Ultrasound: $116.97 each. We had three this month.
Clomid Medication: $8.64
Trigger Shot: $119.89 cash. We chose to pay for this without insurance because it was twice as much
                                              with insurance, and even though that would have counted toward our
                                              deductible, we saved money in the long run.
Estrogen Medication: $9.77
Pregnancy Blood Test & Visit: $48.39

Total for Clomid Round 1: $537.60

It is hard to look at the number knowing that it lead to nothing. Well, not nothing. It lead to the next step in the process and we are one more month closer to success.




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