Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Due Date: Our Story of Blessing and Loss, part 1

Today is the day my first baby, Athanasios, was due. If I had the healthy, normal pregnancy that we expected, I would have been giving birth to my first child this week.
This is a difficult day, and week, for me. Nevertheless, I’m glad it has finally come to pass. It feels cathartic, like now it’s time to turn a new page in our story. So, I’ve decided to take this opportunity to go back and share the details of our infertility and miscarriage journey thus far.

Since the last time I posted specifically about our TTC attempts and our IUI protocol, etc., was almost a year ago, I thought I would briefly review the protocol that I started to describe there, and then get on telling you about the rest of the journey. If you need reminders about what certain procedures, medications, etc. are, head back to the August 20, 2009 post. And if you need to get caught up on the whole history of our TTC journey, read the July 30, 2009 post.

Last August we started a medicated IUI cycle that included me taking Clomid on CDs 3-7. Side effects that I had from it included hot flashes, bloating, headaches, and blind spots (like stars you see when you get a concussion or a migraine). I have heard from other gals that mood swings are also very common, and the doctor warned me that the Clomid could thin out the uterine lining and decrease cervical mucus (which is an important fluid present around ovulation (“O”) that helps the sperm swim through the cervix and into the uterus).

Because of the last couple of side effects from Clomid, the next drug was Estrogen, or Estradiol, which I took on CDs 8-12. The bloating continued, but the other side effects subsided. Starting on CD 11, I had to use an ovulation predictor kit (“OPK”) first thing in the morning, and as soon as we had a positive result, call the clinic and go in for an intra-vaginal ultrasound (“IVUS”) to see how big my mature follicles were and how thick my uterine lining was, and from that, predict how close I was to O. We also had to abstain starting on CD 9 until the insemination, so that my dear husband (AKA “the Wacky Wicketeer”) could build up a good store of soldiers before making his deposit! They start you on CD 9 in case you have to get the IUI on CD 12, so that you have three days of storage, but I didn’t O until CD 14 (as usual), so it was a long time, I tell ya! And mind you, those days are your most fertile, so for the previous two years, that had been prime baby-dancing time! What a switch…

On CD 13, I had a positive OPK, and we went in for my IVUS. I had two good, mature follicles and a nice uterine lining, so then I was injected with a form of HCG, AKA, the pregnancy hormone. This injection is commonly called a trigger shot, because it is supposed to trigger O. It also means that for a period of time, you could get a false positive on a home pregnancy test (“HPT”), because you had the very hormone it tests for injected into your system. The Doc then told us that the Wacky Wicketeer would need to be back early in the morning and make his deposit, and two hours later would be my second round with the IVUS, to make sure everything still looked good and see if I had O’d yet or not, and then an IUI.

Late that night was one of the most painful I’d had up to that point. My ovaries felt like they were going to explode! Sure enough, when I returned the next morning, I had already O’d. So, we had just the one shot at IUI.

After the Wacky Wicketeer made his deposit, they took the soldiers, “washed” them, to get rid of dead and useless ones, and then gave them a special vitamin solution to swim around in on their voyage.

Now, my turn. The tiny room we were in already contained me, the Wacky Wicketeer, the RE (doctor), and the nurse. As I’m laying there with my feet in the stirrups, all pride gone, into this sardine can walks two more people - a lab tech, with an assistant in tow. The lab tech is carrying what we’ve all been waiting for – the troops have arrived! In her hand is what looks to me like a two-foot long straw. It was labeled, and she very formally read our names from the label, and we said, yep, that’s us! The RE then took the straw from her, and the lab tech and her assistant left. Whew. A little more breathing room. That’s when the RE, having already used the speculum on me like a regular gynecological pelvic exam, inserts a catheter connected to the straw through the vaginal canal, past the cervix, up into the uterus, and aims as close to the fallopian tubes as he can get, so those little soldiers have a shorter swim. It wasn’t real painful, just a little weird, and I had a little cramping start when it passed my cervix, sort of like mild menstrual cramps. It took a couple of minutes (seemed like an eternity to me!), and when the RE was done, he set an egg timer for 10 minutes, and said I could get up, dressed, and go when the timer went off. Oh, and that we should boink like bunnies that night to add to our chances!

Not that night, but the following night, I started taking a prescribed compound vaginal suppository nightly. It was a compound that was primarily intended to deliver progesterone, to support a possible early pregnancy, and make sure I didn’t start menstruating earlier than I should. The suppositories are messy, so you take it right before you go to bed. I was instructed to take it until either my period came, or I had a blood test that showed I was negative for pregnancy, at least sixteen days post-IUI.

Normally, good ol’ “Aunt Flo” (or “AF”, as the TTC community so quaintly refers to a woman’s period) arrives on CD 26 or 27 for me, not 29 like for the “average” woman. This would have been only twelve days post-IUI for me, but the progesterone prevented my period from starting normally, so I took a HPT. OK, I took several HPTs. They were all that dreaded BFN (big fat negative)! But, just in case, hope beyond hopes, I had to continue waiting another four days, then went in for the blood “beta” test. (I have no idea why they call it a beta test.) Of course, it was negative.

So, our first IUI was a failure. It was also very stressful. Not having gone through the process before, and, at the time, not understanding everything I was supposed to do, or why I was supposed to do it, but being the sole person responsible for making sure that everything happened at just the right time – whew! Add the hormones to that mix, and you can imagine. And everything else in life doesn’t just go on hold because you’re going through this, either.

The toughest point for me was getting the negative home tests, because I knew at that point, that it hadn’t worked. After the blood test confirming that we were NOT pregnant, I stopped the progesterone, and AF showed up three days later. My first instinct was to give up. But my determined Wacky Wicketeer would have none of it. Ultimately, it was an easy decision to take a month off before we would try IUI again.

Come back soon for my next post, which will pick up with our second IUI cycle – when we were blessed with our first pregnancy, and lost our first Angel baby, Athanasios.


  1. Thanks. It's after a Greek Saint. It means "one who will never die". I'll tell more about it and why we chose it in a later part.