finding a new doctor…

So you may recall, I broke up with my old ob/gyn (see the full story here) due to many issues (some of which are also explained here).  Shortly after I decided I was done with Dr. Tam, I google searched for gynecologists in Chicago.  I know, I know…dangerous thing to do!  Who knows what you could end up with!  Since moving here, I’ve always gone to see doctors either by referral from another doc, or by advice from a friend.  My regular doctor had referred me to Dr. Tam, so I couldn’t ask him for another referral (he seemed to really like her and think she would be good), and I of course couldn’t ask Dr. Tam – that would be rude: “Hey, ya know, you kinda suck as an ob/gyn…could you maybe give me a name of someone way better than you?”  Yeah, I’m not that kind of person (I hope)…so I googled.  I found someone online, who took my insurance and had nothing by 5 star reviews from current patients.  So, I took a leap of faith and called to set up a consultation appointment.  I figured there would be no harm going in to talk with her and see what she had to offer!

So, I was looking for someone I could feel comfortable with, someone who seemed to either understand my particular fertility problems or at least be willing to work with me and learn.  Boy howdy, did I find her!

My first clue that this was going to be the right place was the paperwork I had to fill out before getting there.  In the section to fill out about past pregnancies, not was there a place to mark if the pregnancy had ended successfully, but had a column to fill out about miscarriages and a spot to put how far along in the pregnancy you reached!  Seriously, this place understood pregnancy does not = healthy baby all the time.  Other forms I’ve filled out in the past just asked for pregnancy and how old the child is now.

I got into the office and the nurse brought me back for a few medical history questions and to check my blood pressure.  Then the doctor came in.  She was so nice!  I was immediately at ease!  She went over more history with me, spent time with me trying to get the time line of my pregnancies, losses and diagnosis figured out so she understood the steps I’ve already taken.  She has a relationship with Dr. Freaking-Awesome (my MFM doc) already and was happy to let me continue to see him if/when I get pregnant again.  She then talked with me about possible next steps – she really understood my diagnosis and current treatments!  I couldn’t believe it, I doctor that actually understood me and was willing to help me!!  It was a miracle.  Right away there were some tests she wanted to run (that should have been done when I had first mentioned to my old gyno that I was thinking of trying to get pregnant).  I’m going in today for some blood work.  First off, she’s checking my Progesterone levels to see if I did in fact ovulate this month (I should be 7dpo if I did).  She wants to see if I’m Oing on my own.  She mentioned clomid, that it might be a good thing to introduce to my current regimen.  I don’t know why but I’ve ALWAYS been hesitant about taking it.  All of my docs (old gyno, RE, MFM) have mentioned it to me and I’ve always said no.  But having stepped back now, I think it may be time – if it helps I’m willing to go there now.  New ob/gyn seems to think that it may just be that extra push that I need.  Okay, I’m ready for it then!

I’m also being tested for cystic fibrosis carrier and to see if I’m still immune to chicken pox and rubella.  I guess this should have been tested for when I first wanted to get pregnant.  If I’m a carrier for cystic fibrosis, DH will need to be tested too.  If both parents are carriers then the baby would get it.  I really hope that I’m not!

Step 2 of the new plan is to go in a few days after my next cycle begins (hopefully it won’t!) and get an endometrial biopsy.  I’ve never had this before.  She says that I have certain risk factors (PCOS, MTHFR, over weight, etc…) that could lead to Endometrial cancer, and she just wants to check and make sure all is well.  It should be no worse than getting the saline sonogram that I had with my RE, so I’m not too nervous about it.  She said I may get a bit crampier than the other test, so I’ll just take some ibuprofen or Tylenol before the procedure to help with that.

Can you believe this – all from a consultation appointment to see if I’d like to stay with this doctor!  I can tell you, about 1 min into my conversation with her I’d already decided!!  She even said if I get a positive pregnancy test to call Dr. Freakin-Awesome first to confirm viability and then to call her – she takes this high risk stuff seriously!!  I know she’ll be able to deal with crazy pregnant me if/when I get to that point!  I’m so happy with how this all worked out!!!

Okay, so now for the naming ceremony.  I need to give her a clever nickname – oh, and by the way, if you live in the Chicago area and want to check out my new doctor, send me an email at somedaybabyt at gmail dot com and I’ll give you her contact info.  Hmm…how about, Dr. Understanding?  Dr. Delightful?  Dr. Proactive?  Any good suggestions?  I’ll take them!!  Maybe we’ll even do a poll if I get a bunch of good ideas!  Leave your name suggestions in the comments!

and we start again…

Well, this Saturday marked the start of a new cycle.  AF decided to show up on 10dpo…really?  Is that early?  Since I have PCOS, I’ve never in my life had a regular cycle, so I have no idea how these things work, but I thought a typical cycle went around 14dpo??  Oh well, at least she came in a timely manor, I didn’t have to face the negative HPT and since last cycle didn’t work, at least we can get going on the next one so soon!  (As my husband said when I told him, “…you gotta make lemonade out of things when, wait, what…you know what I mean…”)

So, CD3 today.

In other news, please keep K from Waiting for Sunflower in your thoughts, prayers, ritual sacrifices, whatever it is that you do.  She is getting nearer and nearer to her due date.  She will be induced on Friday morning unless the little guy decides to make his appearance before that.  Please offer her support as she prepares to meet her baby!

Also, in some way cool news, I got mentioned!!  On the website Spectrum Science.  There was an article written by Kaitlin
Doody called Online Infertility Community Celebrates National Awareness Week and in the article, there is a link back to my post about our #infertility campaign on Twitter!  How exciting is that!!!  And some of you were quoted from your Tweets that day!  Check it out and marvel at the power of social networking to help bring awareness about infertility, during NIAW and all year long!  We rock ladies (and gents…)!!

my drug habit…

I went in for my last (hopefully) blood test for a while.  It was to check my homocystine (?) levels, which is realated to the MTHFR.  I’m not sure what will happen if it comes back that I have that, too…more meds?  Don’t know.  Anyway I’m really hoping that we’re now at the point where I can get pregnant and sustain it all the way through.  Sadly it’s taken 3 doctors, 3+ years and 2 lost babies to figure this all out.  I’ve learned that I need to be more proactive about my own diagnosis and fight for the things that I want.

When I first went in to see Dr. Freakin’ Awesome (the MFM doc) I was asking him all kinds of questions about baby aspirin and lovenox, since I know so many of you ladies have been put on one or both of those.  At that point (rightly so) he didn’t think it was necessary, since we hadn’t run the blood work yet.  I was kind of just feeling out what might be used for some treatment.  Now with the MTHFR diagnosis he has put me on baby aspirin, plus the extra folic acid.  I’ve been doing a lot of “research” (by that I mean, Dr. Google has been consulted on this), and have found that most women diagnosed with MTHFR are then put on the baby aspirin, extra folic acid (on top of a prenatal) and then when they become pregnant are prescribed lovenox or heparin.  I’ve found this article, that I have now printed off to put in my files.  If (when…) I get pregnant I will be using it to convince whatever doctor I have at the time to put me on one of the two of those.  I hate needles – really hate them, but whatever it takes ya know, as I’m sure you all understand.  I also stumbled across a blog called The Expecting Father – MTHFR gene mutation and pregnancy.  It’s written by a man who’s wife had recurrent miscarriage (2) and then was found to have the MTHFR gene mutation.  When she became pregnant again she was given lovenox and delivered a healthy baby boy.  They have since had another baby boy just a few weeks ago with the same treatments.  I also know my dear blog friend K of Waiting for Sunflower has used the same treatment and her little guy should be coming in the next few weeks!!  You can be sure I’ll be very proactive about getting this same treatment for myself.

In other news, I’ve scheduled a consultation appointment with a new ob/gyn (for May 24th).  I found her by searching online (I know, kinda scary) – but she was reviewed on Yelp! and all of the reviews were 5 stars!  She is covered by my insurance as well.  I’m hoping to go in to the meeting with all of my medical records and just be very straight with her what I want.  I’m hoping she has some experience/knowledge of infertility issues, specifically PCOS and now MTHFR.  She sounds like a great doctor, but if she can’t meet my needs, I’ll be looking for someone else.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Okay, now on to the actual reason for this post!  I wanted to do a show and tell of my new drug habit (sorry this beginning part kinda got away from me).  First off, I’ve turned into an old lady – yup, I bought a pill box.  I figured though if I need a pill box to keep track of everything, it may as well be a “hip” pill box, so this is what I got:

It’s individual canisters that screw together to make this stack.  There’s an extra lid so if you’re going on vacation, you can just take the days you’ll need.  It’s pretty fun, and allows me to see if I’d remembered to take my pills for the day.  I just put my morning dose in the jars.  I have an alarm set on my phone to go off to remember to take my Metformin at lunch and bed time.

Here’s a shot of the bottles of pills:

The big jar is the pre-natals (some generic brand my insurance company picked out…).  The next generic looking jar is my Metformin.  The yellow is the extra Folic Acid (I’m supposed to take 1 mg a day, but they only came in doses of 400 mcg, so I take 3 of those) and the smallest jar is the “baby” aspirin, which isn’t for baby’s at all, they just call it that.  Though it is chewable and orange flavored!

So the grand total for the day is 8 pills: 6 in the morning and then then other 2 through out the day.  Here they all are!

Nice, huh?  The prenatal is a very vibrant pink.  There is even a warning on the bottle that it may turn your pee colors for a while…yeah, really.  Luckily I didn’t get that side effect!  I don’t know why they had to make it so pink!

That’s my update for now.  Hopefully my results will come back soon and I know for sure the full treatment for me, and hopefully, it’ll work!  Oh…and btw, I’m on CD-21, and no sign of ovulation.  My temps have been all over the place throughout this whole cycle.  I forgot to do my OPK this morning.  Might do it tonight and see what happens…

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Okay…so, I was just getting ready to hit PUBLISH and my phone rang.  It was Dr. Freakin’ Awesome’s office and my blood work came back normal!  Yay!  So I just stick with the above until it works!

interesting news…

So in trying to get prepared for my meeting with the gynecologist next Thursday I called my nurse at FCI to get my PCOS diagnosis results faxed over so I could take them in to the appointment.  She gathered together the info and explained it to me over the phone yesterday before she faxed it, which was nice.  I now know that my PCOS diagnosis was not just a shot in the dark (they never properly explained it all to me until now, when I asked about it…guess that shows you really need to be an active participant in this whole process!!).  I DEFINITELY have PCOS.  I want to help any of you out there who may not be sure what that all entails, so this is what my nurse explained to me:

1) Antral Follicle count greater than 24 (mine for the past few checks were 40, 35, 27, 35)

2) Irregular Menstrual cycles (Yup, check…)

3) “Pearl Necklace” appearance to ovaries  (this means there are small, pearl like bumps surrounding your ovaries)

4) High androgens (shown through physical appearance and blood tests)

5) LH to FSH ratios should be 1:1 (mine are not…one test was FSH 3.20 and LH 0.842)

So, now that I KNOW my diagnosis better, I feel better prepared to go into my appointment with test results, articles and determination at hand!  I’m really not anticipating much of a fight, but I’m ready if I have to!

But that’s not the interesting news…after explaining it all to me she said she had a question for me.  She wanted to know if we have ever considered IVF.  I told her we are very open to it, but the cost is just too prohibitive.  She then informed me that the clinic is doing a trial for PCOS patients to do IVF at a reduced cost and that she had spoken with the nurse in charge to get us into the trial if we want.  I told her if it was very reduced we would definitely be interested.  So, she faxed over my info and went off to talk to the nurse in charge of the trial.

About 15 min later she called back with the info.  Normal IVF cycles at my clinic are $10,500 +meds ($1-2,000).  The trial is cut in half: $5,500 +meds.  Wow.  I love my nurse.  Not only did she think of us when she heard about this trial, but she spoke with the nurse in charge directly and she is waiting for our call to say if we would like to do it.  I *heart* Jaime (my nurse).  The only catch is that we need to get started before December.  And that’s where the bummer part comes in.

The DH and I discussed it last night.  While we would both love to jump on this opportunity (IVF will NEVER be this cheap again), we just won’t have $7,000 by December.  If we had a bit more time to save up we could maybe have done it, but it just isn’t possible right now.  I hate to give up this opportunity, especially since Jaime worked so hard to get us considered for the trial, but there you go.  I’m upset we have to pass it up, but on the other hand I’m doing okay.  If I didn’t have the Metformin option that we’re working on to fall back on I would have pressed a little harder to try and find a way to do the IVF, but we do have the Metformin “safety net” so at least I’m not completely out of options.

That being said, if any of you win the lottery in the next few weeks and want to donate $5,000 to me, I won’t say no!

let’s get this party started…

Just called in to my gynecologist. Set up an appointment for November 5th for a consultation (I’m very happy she had an opening so soon, she’s usually pretty booked up). I’m intending to ask her to put me on Metformin. I’ve just recently discovered (as in, yesterday) that Metformin is a common treatment for women with PCOS. That would have been nice to know 3 YEARS AGO!! Not that I’m angry…it’s just that I’ve been going to a fertility clinic for almost 2 years now and this drug was never even MENTIONED to me! Forget the fact that it could have regulated my cycles, or had me ovulating on my own w/o shots, or even the fact that it seems every other woman diagnosed as PCOS has been prescribed Metformin…forget all that. What MOST upsets me is that this drug is also given to women with PCOS in their 1st trimester to guard against miscarriage. If I had been given this drug, if I had even KNOWN about this drug, my little Zippy may have been born this month, instead of dying in March. That’s what pisses me off the most!

Hopefully my OB/GYN will listen to me and agree that I should try Metformin. The hubby and I talked last night and seemed to agree that we could do the Metformin alone for a few months and if nothing happens naturally, try IUI on Metformin one more time at our fertility clinic. Either way, this is the first breath of hopeful air I’ve had all month and it feels good. Drowning in the darkness of depression is no fun. I much prefer the bobbing up and down in a sea of hopefulness – at least I’m not below water any more!

So – all you Metformin vets, I need your help! I’ve printed off the WebMD article that I linked to above, and also some articles that the blogger Birds and Squirrels linked to in her blog back in April (thanks again to Maybe Baby? for pointing that blog out).  This is all I have right now, but if there is any info you think would be helpful in pleading my case to my doctor, I’d very much appreciate it.  Even just your personal stories of using the drug and how it has helped you?  I’d take any advice/help you could offer!  Thanks!

okay, I’m here…

Hey all…I hope you’re still around. I’ve been taking a blogging break, but I’ve still been reading all of my IF blogs daily, sometimes more! I just needed a break from thinking about my own IF for a while.

So, here’s where I’m at. Our last IUI failed. That was the 3rd one after we lost Zippy in March. They say after 3 tries, it’s time to move on to something else. Not only was it our 3rd failed IUI after miscarriage, but I got the news of the BFN 2 days before my due date would have been for our baby. As you can imagine, that has launched me into a pretty spectacular funk. I’m still not out of it. I do my best to put on a happy face throughout the day, and it works, as long as I don’t for a second let my mind wander. My “happy face” mask has to extend also to my brain or it all come crashing down again. Even typing this post is difficult because I’m allowing myself to go “there” – you know, that place where all you can think about is your IF failures and the “what might have been”s. I’m there. I don’t want to be there.

I’m sick of this whole journey. I know it’s building character, and making me stronger, letting me know how much I can deal with and still survive, but if it’s all the same, I’ll give all that character building back if I can please have my baby. Thanks.

I don’t want to deal with this any more, but there is no way out. If I want a child I have to deal with this, and it just so isn’t fair. I’m surrounded by babies, but I can’t have my own and that’s all I want in the world.

The worst part is, we’re at a point now where the only thing we can do is the old fashioned trying to have a baby. We’ve emptied every bank account, begged money off friends and family, taken out loans, gotten as many grants as possible. We’re out. Adoption can’t even be a possibility because the cost is so prohibitive. I’ve got no hope that I will EVER have a child, let alone anytime in the near future. I’ve tried everything I can think of. Thought about cashing out my retirement account that work has for me, but I really can’t do that unless I were to leave my job. That’s another possibility, get hired somewhere else. The state of Illinois is one of the few states that requires jobs to provide IF treatment as part of the Health coverage, that is if you don’t work for a religious institution, which I do. So, if I were to switch jobs, not only would I probably get paid more (which would help) but I’d have IF coverage. But – welcome to our wonderful economy! No one’s hiring. Also I have to worry if it’d be a “pre-exising” condition that wouldn’t be covered anyway. My next option was to get a part time job for nights and weekends and save up for IVF. That failed too – I applied to about 10 places and never heard back from any. I really feel like the world is conspiring against me becoming a mother. I really do.

I don’t know what to do, or where to go. I feel like a boat lost at sea, drifting aimlessly hoping to crash into land, but I’m so far away from the shore I probably won’t survive the journey. Yup, that’s hopelessness folks!

However, my stupid mind got to thinking today. Maybe Baby? was talking on her blog about Metformin and linked to Birds and Squirrels about articles on Metformin. I’ve heard you lovely blog folks mention this med before, but I didn’t know what it did or why one would take it. Turns out, for women with PCOS, it can help regulate cycles and even help ovulation! It has a good percentage to help PCOS women get pregnant even! So of course, I start plotting a new plan. Get my doctor to put me on Metformin, maybe discuss taking baby aspirin, I’ve heard that helps too. Maybe I can even get insurance to cover the drugs some how, since it’s a treatment for a condition I have? I don’t know…will need to talk with doctor about that…then, I guess I could give it a couple months of trying natural? Or, maybe one more IUI shot? Of course after emptying out every ounce of cash we had, we did have another break on the financial front recently that could help for one more try if we wanted to go there. This is giving me things to think about, and actually the first glimmer of hope I’ve had in quite a while…don’t read to much into that though. That glimmer is still miles off in a room full of darkness, but at least it’s a pinpoint of light. I’ve not had that.

PCOS

So, when my doctor told me I had PCOS, I really had no clue what that meant.  In all reality, I still don’t really know what that means.  And also, the diagnosis I feel was kind of a default one – they couldn’t find any other reason why I wasen’t getting pregnant, so I think they just chose that one.  I’m not saying I don’t have PCOS – from what I’ve read about it, it makes sense.  What I am saying is, I kinda feel like the doctor labeled me with this without any proof or testing for it.

That’s not the point though – I wanted to share what I’ve found out about PCOS, mostly from WebMD – the default source of medical info for those who don’t know anything!  If you’d like to read the whole article where I got my information, it can be found here.

PCOS stands for Polycystic ovary syndrome.  From what I can figure, PCOS basically means that my hormones don’t work the way they are supposed to.  I don’t produce the right amounts of hormones essential not just for making babies, but for having regular cycles and ovulating.  This is why I was given certain hormone shots during my IUI cycle, given a shot to make me ovulate, and then given progesterone suppliments to guard against miscarriage.

Symptoms of PCOS are (according to webmd):

  • Acne.
  • Weight gain and trouble losing weight.
  • Extra hair on the face and body. Often women get thicker and darker facial hair and more hair on the chest, belly, and back.
  • Thinning hair on the scalp.
  • Irregular periods. Often women with PCOS have fewer than nine periods a year. Some women have no periods. Others have very heavy bleeding.
  • Fertility problems. Many women with PCOS have trouble getting pregnant (infertility).
  • Depression

I’ve always had acne and weight problems.  My periods have also always been irregular.  I didn’t start my period until about was about 16 or 17 years old.  Since then, they come and go as they please.  I used to have very short periods – sometimes as little as 2 or 3 days, but never more than 5.  Over the past 4 or 5 years, they have pretty much settled into a rhythm of occuring every 3 months and lasting about 6 days.  However, there have been times where I would bleed for over a month.  I didn’t go to a gynocologist until about 3 years ago, and then decided to try to have a baby 1 year after that.  I was never on birth control.

Looking back on the history of my cycles, I should have known something was wrong and done something about it long ago.  I always had a fear in my heart, the “what if I can’t have kids?”  But I never took that thought seriously, until it actually happened.

So here I am now.  Waiting.  Waiting for that period to come, that I’ve always dreaded because of the cramping and the inconvienience.  I was always so happy that my periods were short and few.  I now no that’s not a good thing.  And even when this one does start, I’ll have to wait for the next one before we can try again.  Frustration is a word I understand well.

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