Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tears Out of the Gray

No time for Part 2 this weekend, unfortunately. My mom was in town this weekend for some moral support (THANKS Mom!!). Had a blast with her and then spent all my extra time getting ready for a big presentation at work tomorrow (please wish me luck...SO nervous! :). But, I did want to write this quick drive by post to share this...

I was driving to the airport on Friday night to pick my mom up from the airport. It had been a very long day with lots of running around. I was tired and perhaps a little grumpy. Mat Kearney's "Closer to Love" came on the radio. I've probably heard the song before, but I guess I've never really listened to it. This time I did.

Next thing I knew I was in tears. It was this that got me:
She got the call today
One out of the gray
And when the smoke cleared
It took her breath away
She said she didn't believe
It could happen to me
I guess we're all one phone call from our knees

More specifically, I think it was this that really hit me:
I guess we're all one phone call from our knees

I think we've all had that phone call (IF-related or otherwise). The one that started us down this path. Or, worse yet, kept us on it...another bad news blow.

But, there are also the good, the amazing, life changing, never thought this day would come, GOOD news phone calls, too. Those bring us to our knees, too. We've all had the first kind of phone call. Many of us wait for the second.

So, on Murgdan's beta eve, I send best wishes to her for that second type of phone call...with tears of joy out of the gray.

Also to Mrs. B, Jen, JackieMac, LowFatLady, and everyone else out there beginning cycles that will hopefully end in that second type of phone call, too, I hope along with you that it does.

And, for the rest of us somewhere in between, I leave the song that brought me to tears as we wait for our own "brought us to our knees" good news phone call...

or full video here:

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Baggage we Bring to the Island: Part 1

Like father, like son...

In most families, it goes something like this:

"I see Xavier got your throwing arm!" Like father, like son!

"Aidan looks like quite a character, just like his dad!" Like father, like son!

"Caleb seems good with the ladies, too!" Like father, like son!

In our family, the phrase takes on a slightly different connotation. My mother-in-law has a painfully vivid recollection of a moment driving home from the doctor, after my father-in-law was diagnosed with severe chronic depression, where she hoped beyond hope that her sons would never have to know that same anguish. She has an equally vivid memory of a similar wish that her sons would never have to experience the social stigma and myriad of complications (emotional and otherwise) that accompany male factor infertility.

Those particular wishes were left unfulfilled. God had a different plan, fate if you will, that only years later came into focus. Sometimes she apologizes to me for the genetic cards my husband (and I through marriage) was dealt. Having experienced both depression and MFI first hand, she wouldn't wish it on anyone, least of all her own son. Having only begun to walk a few steps in her shoes, I couldn't agree more.

But there's more to it than that. What I already know from the years we've spent battling my husband's depression is that sometimes the depression takes everything you've got. It sucks us dry and leaves us marooned on the shores of a desert island. Sometimes he forgets that we're together on the island and that's just one of the many reasons it's so painful. But, when we find each other again and are there together, battling the endless baking sun and the battering waves, we're okay....eventually we make it back to the mainland, and we're stronger for it. Much, much stronger. Infertility is every bit the same. And, just like my mother-in-law, I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. But, I know that we'll be better for it. We'll be a stronger couple, "better" parents, and a more grateful family.

It's also true that genetics isn't the only thing that determines our fate. Personality plays a role, too. When we received our first SA results (via a phone call to me from my OB/GYN), I was devastated. But, I was told that I had to survive on the island by myself for awhile. From their past experience, both the nurse and my mother-in-law told me not to tell my husband. "Let it come from the doctor," they said, "He'll take it better."

When my father-in-law was given similar news in the late 1970s, the urologist used the "s-word": sterile. Furthermore, they were also told that they would never have biological children. Social stigma and ego proved to be too much. He was beyond livid, but over time that anger transitioned into his first diagnosed chronic depression episode. I was warned to expect a similar reaction, though it would be far from our first experience with depression.

But, this was not like father, like son.

My husband is remarkably okay with our MFI because we have a plan. I'm grateful for his calm and for the fact that he does not tie his sperm count, motility and morphology to his own self-worth. At the same time, it turns the tables a bit. I'm left as the one struggling to find the other on the marooned island. Such emotional extremes are hard to can he feel as strongly about starting our family as I do when remains so even keel about it? But, I know that he shows his concern and caring by agreeing to the SA so early, by going to the specialists, by being my shoulder to cry on and never judging my emotions.

What I heard at the urologist appointment this week was that our odds of needing ART to get pregnant are extremely high. I expected to hear that, but it was (and is) still jarring. It still unnerves me and causes me to mourn the loss of the "quick and easy" conception that so many others around me are experiencing.

What my husband heard was that we can and will get pregnant, it’s just a matter of how. And, that's all he needed to hear. I'm grateful that his perspective is often my shelter on the island...that what depresses him, doesn't me and that what depresses me, doesn't him.

Fate and genetics. They don't live in isolation. I still believe that God only gives us what he knows we can handle. As it turns out, we were given some genetic issues to overcome. But, we were also given the perfectly balanced personalities to weather the island storm until we can overcome them. The irony is not lost on me...and I'm grateful.


Thanks to Mel for writing her post "I Watched Funny People and What I Learned about MFI" about the unique kinds of baggage that accompany an MFI diagnosis. I've appreciated the many responses left by others experiencing the same baggage. Please head over to read her post and the insightful responses!

Part 2 will explain why I (we) choose to talk about our journey through depression and MFI when so many others do not. The stigma that goes along with talking about MFI is another piece of luggage to add to the pile.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

CD1 but it's okay...

My grandpa's PET Scan came back cancer free today...

Puts a bit different spin on CD1 this month...

I'm grateful...for him.  And it's nice to not feel in quite such a rush to make sure he's still around to see his first great grandbaby.  I'm grateful for that, too!

And, most of all, it's proof that miracles do happen!

Show and Tell: Our Anniversary Vacation!

It's that time again...I'm raising my hand and walking to the front of the class for our weekly Show and Tell tradition.  Stop by Mel's place to see what the rest of the class is sharing...

As for me, I'm sharing love, smiles and romance (fair warning: this post may be sickeningly sweet in a few places).  That's right...our 5th anniversary vacation!!  Just to paint the picture completely, you should know that we got married in 2004 and honeymooned at Disney World and Las Vegas (working for an airline has a few perks...).  Mere months after that, we moved to Minnesota, many miles and states away from any family.  For the the four years that followed "vacations" involved visiting family...something we love to do, but we were also yearning for the "throw caution to the wind, no one's schedule but our own, romantic hotel room"-type vacation!

Fast forward to May 2009.  We had recently moved to Texas and were within driving distance of most of our family. The family that was farther away were already in the process of moving closer.  All was finally right with the world.  Hubby also happened to have amassed a mile-high collection of Marriott points during the relocation.  With our fifth anniversary right around the corner, the stage was set for our first true vacation in five years!  No one had to twist my arm to say "HECK YEAH!!!" to the idea of a three day weekend in San Antonio at the Marriott Rivewalk!  I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate five years married to my soulmate...just the two of us, a hotel room with a beautiful view, a balcony that overlooked the city, the Riverwalk to discover, and no agenda other than enjoying each others company!

So, here are some pics from our fabulous anniversary trip!!

From our hotel, the San Antonio skyline with the Riverwalk below:

A fun one of the Torch of Friendship and the Tower of Americas:

Random along the Riverwalk:

And, the happy couple! 
Happy Anniversary Sweetheart!!
I love you more!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wacky Wednesday Hodge Podge

Some thoughts...
Thanks for the comments about yesterday's post. I agree with you on taking care of the hormonal issues first. That makes the best sense. I've just seen so much mixed info on the varicocele repair, that I'm not putting much stock in that. And I'm grateful that the doc isn't pushing it too heavily (yet). I'll definitely be picking up Dr. Silber's book "How to Get Pregnant" this weekend(thanks Murgdan for the recommendation!)!

Clinical trial update...
I called about the clinical trial just to get the information. I feel better knowing what all of our options are! The current clinical trial doesn't work for us. However, they have a new one beginning in January that will likely offer a much better discount. No word on inclusion/exclusion criteria yet, though. Will be keeping fingers crossed that, if we still need this option, we qualify in January! That timing works out great for us anyway. Long enough to get some of hubby's issues worked out (hopefully) and a few more months to save.

Crafty circle update...
Still looking for one more participant in the crafty circle/craft-o-rama! Check it out here...

(Thanks for the awesome pic Suzy!! Check out her awesome blog Not a Fertile Myrtle!)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

No Surprises, but No Great News Either

Count: 5 million (normal 20 million)
Motility: 22% forward movement
Morphology 0%
2 Varicoceles (small to medium)

So, no surprises. The varicoceles were new info, but not a huge surprise to me. I really liked the doctor. Very matter of fact, while still not unnecessarily scaring us. And, he gave us a ton of information to read and think about...which I LOVE!

Basically, we were told that right now our only/best chance was IVF w/ ICSI. However, he's not ready to send us down that path just yet. First, we had bloodwork done today and will do a second SA to confirm the first on Thursday. Dr. B has a hunch that hormonal imbalances may be at play and the blood work will show that. If that's the case, he suggests Tamoxifen to increase count (and possibly morphology). His hope is that he could get us into the range that made IUI possible (20 million count/4% normal morph). He made no mention of getting pregnant naturally as an option for us.

There is also the option of varicocele repair. However, based on what research I've done so far, and Dr. B's description of it's efficacy, I'm not exactly jumping on that train just yet. If the bloodwork comes back normal, I'd almost rather put the money that would go toward the varicocele repair towards the IVF clinical trial going on locally. I don't know...

So many what ifs still. Tamoxifen or not. Varicocele repair or not. IUI or not. Clinical trial or not. I'm not sure what's too early to at least start investigating or get the ball rolling on the clinical trial. I don't want to wait so long that the trial is closed to new patients. But, I also realize that any improve we can make betters are chances of successful IVF if it comes to that. I'm torn on this one. I think I'm off to do some research on Tamoxifen's success rates with morphology improvement...

In the meantime humble readers...did you or someone you know deal with MFI due to varicoceles or hormonal imbalance? If so, what treatment did they choose and did it work?

SA Results: Count, Motility, and Morphology Explained

In an effort to get my thoughts untangled before the urologist appointment this afternoon, I thought it might be helpful to write them down here. I plan to take this cheat sheet with us to the doctor tomorrow so that I can make sense of all of the numbers he throws at us. Because this post is likely to get long, I'll probably post two separate ones later this week or soon on morphology in more detail (the most concerning item for us since we currently have 0% normal morph) and possible "treatments"/remedies for MFI issues (though there seem to few and they seem to be mostly a crap shoot!)

The process of interpreting SA results or figuring out how to improve them begins with collecting the sample. With that in mind, this excerpt from Dr. Mark Perloe's "Miracle Babies" gives some great tips on how to make sure the best sample possible ends up at the lab. The exercept doesn't give too many specifics, though, so I'll direct you here for more specific instructions. Of course, if your doctor gives you different instructions, use those! The only tip that we were given that doesn't appear in those resources is that if your collecting at home and transporting the sample to the lab, be sure to keep the sample at body temperature (tip: keep the sample cup in DH's breast pocket, for example).

So, now the all important collection is done and your doctor calls with the results. Motility, morphology, volume and count...what the heck does all that really mean? Here are the "normal" ranges that I've been able to find. Keep in mind that the categorization "normal" seems to be somewhat subjective depending on the clinic/doctor.

Sperm Count/Concentration
Sperm count is the number of sperm typically found in a milileter of fluid.
Normal range: 20 million to 150 million. Average is 60 million.
Low: Greater than 10 million; Less than 20 million.
Very Low: Less than 10 million. This is otherwise known as oligospermia.

Motility is a measure of how many sperm are actively moving at certain times after ejaculation. The better the swimmers swim, the more likely they'll be able to reach the egg.
Normal: 50% moving at one hour post-ejaculation.

The WHO (World Health Organization) further categories motility into the following four categories:
Grade a (fast progressive) sperms are those which swim forward fast in a straight line.
Grade b (slow progressive) sperms swim forward, but either in a curved or crooked line, or slowly (slow linear or non linear motility).
Grade c (nonprogressive) sperms move their tails, but do not move forward.
Grade d (immotile ) sperms do not move at all.
More excellent information on motility here (the reference source for the above).

Volume is just the total amount of fluid in the sample. This measure is also why all of the SA instructions stress the importance of making sure that the entire sample is collected.
Normal Range: at least 2 milileters

Morphology is a measure of how the sperm or shaped. Normal sperm have oval heads, a connecting middle piece and long, straight tails. Anything not meeting those specifications is considered abnormal. The morphology measurement is the percentage of abnormal sperm in the sample. The more normally shaped the sperm are, the more likely they will be able to fertilize the egg.

There are two standards for categorizing morphology. You can read more about the WHO Criteria vs. the Kruger Strict Criteria here.
WHO Criteria
Normal>60% normally shaped

Kruger "Strict" Criteria (sperm must be perfect to be considered normal)
Normal>15% normally shaped

Particularly useful Kruger categories from
>=15% normal: Normal range - Good prognosis
5-14% normal: Sub optimal range - Prognosis is fair to good, however, the lower the percent normal, the lower the chance of successful fertilization
0-4% normal: Poor prognosis - Will usually need IVF with ICSI

There is conflicting information about the importance of morphology, which is why I'm planning to talk about morphology in more detail in a later post. In brief though, if the count is high, 20% normally shaped may be more than enough to get the job done. 20% normal morph with a count of 100 million still leaves 20 million normally shaped sperm. That's in the adequate range. However, the lower the count gets and the higher the number of abnormally shaped sperm get, the fewer "good" sperm are left to do the job.

For us, for example, we have low count (number to finally be disclosed at this afternoon's uro appointment) along with 0% normal morphology. Even if we can get the count up, we've still got zero normally shaped sperm. That's obviously a big problem. We'll see where the urologist stands on the morphology controversy soon enough.

That's enough for now. More on treatments, morphology and possibly varioceles at a later date. I hope that this proves to be helpful for others who find themselves in a similar situation in the future! Please feel free to add any useful resarch that you've unearthed (or other blog posts you've found with helpful information) in the comments!

The rest of the resources used in this post can be found here:
IF Optimist, Then (kudos to my fellow blogger IF Optimist for some equally great research!)
Your Total Health (iVillage)
Bluegrass Fertility Center
Malpani Infertility Clinic

Monday, August 24, 2009

Take one down and Pass it around! (Crafty Style)

UPDATED: Looks like we still need one more...any takers?

Hey there blog readers!  I've got a fun Monday proposition for us...(Thanks Ms. Gamgee at Hobbit-ish Thoughts and Ramblings!)

The first five people to respond to this post will get something made by me, especially for you. I don't profess to be a super crafty person, but I know my way around the web enough to find some awesome how-tos!  I promise I'll make it worth your while!

This offer does have some restrictions and limitations:

1- I make no guarantees that you will like what I make but I hope you will.

2- What I create will be just for you.

3-They say I have a year to get it to you. But I promise it will NOT take that long (11 months maybe, but NOT twelve ;-)

4- You have no clue what it's going to be. It’s a surprise to both of us at this point.

The catch? You must re-post this on your blog and offer the same to the first 5 people who do the same on your blog.

So the first five people who post, and are willing to pass it along,will get a handmade gift in the mail from me.

When you get it, make sure you post a pic on your blog!  This sounds like an awesome way to take my mind off of the current IF "goings on."  Hopefully you agree!  Let's have some fun!!

One Tidbit; Two Coming Soons

I picked up Mel's book "Navigating the Land of IF" today.  It's my first IF-related book and I think it was the perfect first pick!  I'm only two chapters in, but I'm already so pleased that I decided to read it.  And, only two chapters in, I already feel obliged to say if you haven't read it yet, go get it!  It was this line in the intro (page 8) that convinced me that this was the perfect book for my current state of mind: "....its (the book) focus is not on how to leave this island, but on how to live on least for now." 

I definitely need to start getting comfy with the idea that this is where we are.  Hopefully not for long, but we're hear all the same.  With that in mind, I need to start amassing the tools, supplies and rations we'll need while we're here.  I can't change the fact that we're here.  I can change what I do about it why we are.  At the very least, I can try.

Coming Soon #1:
In a few hours, I'm going to post a super fun (hopefully you'll think so, too) craft circle contest.  The first five people to reply to that post will receive handmade items in the mail made with love and care just for you from me!  Admittedly, there is a tiny catch to keep the game interesting.  Stay tuned for more...

Coming Soon #2:
In preparation for tomorrow's uro appointment, I'm hoping to finish a post compiling all of my research on sperm count, motility, morphology and anti-depressant/sperm quality/production.  If I don't finish that up before tomorrow, please know that it's in the works.

Have a wonderful Monday!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

They're Everywhere...

No, not crazed zombies, giant spiders or blood thirsty vampires.  No, in my life at the moment it's adorable babies and the families of the incredibly fertile.  It's Tax Free Weekend in Texas.  That means two starts tomorrow and hundreds, thousands, possibly even MILLIONS of families doing they're last minute school supply and clothes shopping.

When we moved to Texas last year, we painstakingly chose our suburb because of the great schools and high percentage of young families.  One day, I'll probably appreciate that more than I do right now.  For now, every trip to the grocery store, mall, church, or any other errand yields anyone's fair share of adorable baby smiles and unloading clown cars (otherwise known as minivans).  They're everwhere and I'm outnumbered.  This weekend only makes it more obvious.

These days, I'm acutely aware that I have no idea what lengths that couple behind me in the checkout line went to in their quest to add that bouncing baby to their family (and they're grocery cart).  That brings me some peace, for a bit.  But, then I'm reminded that for every couple that's granted the extra time to painstakingly plan every detail of their baby's journey to existence, there's many more that decided to TTC and were granted their BFP that same month.  And, for each of them, there are even more that didn't even decide to TTC, but got their BFP anyway.  Outnumbered.

It's not only my "perfect for young families" suburb, though.  I'm outnumbered in my real life, too, and that only complicates the problem.  I know that I'm preaching to the choir hear, but it sucks to be the 1 in 5.  You see, I knew four other couples who decided to start trying this year.  All four got their BFPs on that very first month.  And all four almost immediately forgot that fleeting feeling of uncertainty in the 2ww.  And none ever understood the feeling of disappointment that goes along with repeated cycles.  I'm certain that none of them can relate, truly relate, to terrible SA results or the anxiety (yet hope) I feel about our upcoming urologist appointment.  That much was proven by the near silence on the other end of the line when I explained the results and what they meant to my best friend (one of the four).  And that was after weeks of hearing "I'm at peace that it'll turn out great" on the other end of the phone line.  Not so much, but thanks.  None of it was a surprise really, but that doesn't make it any easier.

I didn't really ever want to be that girl.  No one ever wants to have trouble starting their family, I suppose.  But, I also never wanted to be the woman that felt incredibly bitter at the sight of the bouncing baby or the unloading clown car.  Nor did I want to be the girl that caused strain in her oldest relationship just because her best friend was pregnant and she wasn't. 

I end up taking total blame for whatever strain there is because I feel like I should be able to put my baggage on the shelf and be the good friend I used to be...that I want to be.  But, the "blame" isn't entirely mine, is it?  I purposely don't talk about the myriad of things that can go wrong during a pregnancy or point out things they do that could be bad for baby.  So, they really don't have the right to dismiss my feelings or give endless advice about what we could do differently (i.e., what we've been doing wrong).  That doesn't seem to stop them, though.  And, when they don't know how to not give advice, I'm treated to silence.  Cue the strain I feel so responsible for.  I never dreamed that it would be like this...and I mean that in every sense of the phrase.

I guess I better get used to it.  I'm outnumbered, after all.  They're everywhere and I'm just here.  I have no doubt that a planned trip to the mall this afternoon will do a wonderful job of reminding of just that.  Cue the bouncing babies, unloading clown cars and "grin and bear it," "one day, it'll be my turn" look on my face.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Guilty Pleasures in the 2ww

ICLW'ers...check here for my intro post!

Nah, my guilty pleasure isn't chocolate or some similarly logical food obsession. My 2ww guilty pleasure is baby names. Cruel, annoying and lovely all at the same time! Honestly, I've always had a bit of a baby name obsession. I had a name list before I'd ever met DH and we talked about baby names long before we were TTC. But, the strangest thing happens every 2ww...I feel compelled to work on our name list AGAIN!

I wondered if the baby name bug would pass me by this cycle given the recent news. It didn't. I've been fighting against the tide the last few days. I finally caved yesterday, but I decided to channel my baby naming over to someone who could actually use it (BFF). Nonetheless, I thought it might be fun to share some of my guilty pleasure names...the one that either I'd never really use, or Hubby would never agree to. Here's a sampling (all girl names, by the way. Our boy name list was long ago solidified, so know guilty pleasures there)....feel free to share yours too!
Winter nn Winnie
Calla (Hubby says she'll get made fun of..."Calla-fornia," he says. *sigh*)
Olivia (LOVE, but too popular)
Isla (pronounced "eye-la")

So, that's the "love, but would never use list." While we're sharing, here's the best website ever invented for nameniks: Nymbler. The truth is that I don't mind thinking baby names so much, even this cycle, because it's a way of reminding me that our day will come and there will one day, someday, be a baby to name. 1ww guilty pleasure is usually planning the nursery (or BFF's). I know, I know! There's something seriously wrong with me! I'm going to much more dilligently avoid that urge this cycle. I just don't think I can stand it!!

What's your 2ww guilty pleasure or, better yet, what are your guilty pleasure names?

Friday, August 21, 2009

ICLW August: Intro & Call for Questions

Welcome ICLW'ers (otherwise known as IComLeavWe)!!  So glad you found your way over!  Here's a little bit about us and the tightrope we currently find ourselves walking.  We recently found out that hubby has low everything: count, volume, motility and 0% normal morphology.  That last bit is obviously the most disconcerting.  Thanks to Murgdan's super spiffy blog (best of luck today, btw!), I believe this is called oligoastenoteratozoospermia, but we'll find out for sure next week. 

Hubby also suffers from chronic depression.  The catch there is that when the meds are working well, life is almost "normal."  Of course, it is highly likely that those same meds are causing our MFI problem in whole or in part.  Going off the meds is a non-option.  Changing them considerably is an almost equal non-option. So, I'm not really sure where that leaves us.  We've been waiting about a month for the first urologist appointment, but I'm happy to say that it's almost here!  8/25 can't get here fast enough, because I'm driving myself crazy in the meantime!

So ICLW'ers, I have a question(s) for you.  I know that many of you have dealt with MFI and I appreciate your "been there, done that" expertise.  What questions should we ask at the first appointment?  What should we expect to hear/have done? 

(By the way, the hand read to catch the wavering tightrope walker in the picture above represents all of dear online friends (from the blogosphere and iV.  I'm so very grateful to have each of you in my life.  I learn and gain strength from you every single day! Thank you for offering your experiences and insights in such honest and vulnerable ways!  Cheesy? Maybe.  True? YES!)
(pic from:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Show and Tell: Meet Gracie & Audrey

I'm raising my hand for Mel's Show & Tell for the first time! Please join us around the circle to share your own item in our weekly ode to elementary school!

Since we're still getting to know each other here at Our Someday Family, it's about time I introduce you to the rest of my family-- my two adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

Please meet Gracie. She's our first Cavalier and our first dog together. She's our head-strong diva dog with an uncanny ability to "sense" someone's feelings and change her attitude to fit. That's one of the reasons why I'm so excited to get started with our local therapy dog program. As soon as she passes her test, we'll volunteer at schools, nursing homes, the Ronald McDonald house, or pretty much anywhere that will have us, to bring some smiles and puppy kisses to people in tough situations.

Gracie was actually an amazing Christmas gift from my equally amazing hubby. And, while I'd usually discourage puppies as Christmas gifts, hubby new exactly what he was doing. We first started talking about getting a dog early in 2006. We had narrowed down the breeds to a few, including Cavaliers. Then, sometime around August, he decided that he wasn't ready to get a puppy and that we should wait a bit long for x, y, and z to sort itself out. I was so upset! Little did I know that right abou then was when his evil, yet wonderful scheme was born. And, on Christmas Eve 2006, I came home to find Gracie with a bow on her head! She is the puppy version of me...a perfect canine companion. But, before long we realized that Gracie needed a canine companion of her own. And, hubby secretely hoped that we could find the puppy version of him!
Please meet Audrey (who loves to bask in the sun while she nibbles)! She is the perfect addition to our family. Completely like Andy and opposite of me and Gracie in most every way possible. Where Gracie is a head-strong, stubborn pup, Audrey is laid back and just loves to lay around. She is also incredibly vocal, but not in the typical dog ways like barking (though she does that, too). Audrey grunts and makes other odd grumblings to let you know whe she's happy or sad. Almost like the dog version of a's so funny and cute. It's almost like she's trying to talk to us. Too bad we don't speak "doggie grunts," but she still manages to convey her emotions just fine.

Audrey is a puppy mill rescue. The puppy mill surrendered her to a local vet to have her put down claiming a "knee deformity." There was no knee problem. In reality, they reached their quota on how many ruby Cavaliers they could sell that week and needed to make room for new puppies. It's an indefensible and inexcusable practice that is all too common in this country. On behalf of Audrey, I implore you to buy puppies only from reputable breeders. Or, better yet, adopt a rescue. You will never regret it! Part of Audrey's wonderful, laid back personality is a sense that she's grateful and content to be in a better place. I can't imagine our family without her, so I'm forever grateful to the vet that refused to put her to sleep and to the rescue organization that brought her home to us. Thank you Paws & Claws!

Gracie and Audrey may not be sisters by blood, but you'd never know. They are the perfect compliment to each other's personality and our family. We love them...and they love each other!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

That Sinking Feeling...

This afternoon:
My blackberry buzzes.  Oh good, a new e-mail.  Oh, an e-mail from BFF (5 months preggo, first try BFP BFF, I might add).  Cue sinking feeling.

"So, it looks like the baby shower is back on for September.  Are you still available?"  (Of course and I wouldn't miss it for the world)  More sinking, though.

"Oh, and it looks like we'll be home for Labor Day if you guys would like to spend the weekend with us." (A weekend with BFF sounds lovely)  Except for these pesky butterflies in my tummy!

And, all of that was followed by a good dose of guilt/shame for not feeling anything but excited to spend time with BFF and help with her shower.  BFF and I have been friends for over 15 years.  She's truly like a sister to me.  That's why I've been so troubled the past five months that I haven't been able to be the friend I have always been...the friend I still wish I could be.  I wish I could just put all of my baggage away and talk to her like before we both were TTC/preggo.  But, it just hasn't worked that way...and it only seems to get more difficult by the month. 

We'll end up at their house for Labor Day, I'm almost sure of it.  It's her birthday, too!  But, I'll be taking along a good book and tryin gmy hardest to excuse myself before I get too worked up about anything (she's been known to make a few less than considerate comments in the past, though I think we've worked through that).  I can surely just enjoy the weekend...surely!!?!

As for the shower, I truly wouldn't miss it for the world, and I'm honored to have been asked to help.  Of course, had I known how hard this would be six months later, I might have realized that just attending would be more manageable.  I'm just going to try to throw myself into and make it the best it can be (to whatever extent her parents actually let me help, that is).  I can surely go to my happy place for a few hours one Saturday afternoon in September...surely!!?!

Edited to add: BFF called tonight just to check on me since I'd been quiet the past week or so (kept my head down during O time so as not to end up biting people's heads off!).  She said, without any prodding, that she would totally understanding if spending Labor Day weekend with them (and baby stuff, nursery, etc.) would be too tough for me...especially since it's just a couple weeks before the shower.  I'd love to go and hope that I'm able to will myself to go, but it's also comforting to know that we're reaching some sort of mutual, compassionate understanding along the way. BFF for a reason! :-)

Wacky Wednesday Hodge Podge

A little bit of lots of unrelated stuff today, hence the title!  The ALI Blogroll, a fun online find, an annoying lunch yesterday, a crazy workout and nothing much else new here...

The ALI Blogroll (otherwise known as The Stirrup Queen's Completely Anal List of Blogs That Proves That She Really Missed Her Calling as a Personal Organizer)
As of this week, I've officially been added to the ALI Blogroll!  Given all of the support we've received recently from our online friends (honestly, probably more so than from our real life friends!), I'm so excited to be able to (maybe, hopefully) give some of that back in return by being easier to find (for starters, anyway)!

Fun Online Find
Every once in awhile I dabble in photoediting, creating online signatures, etc.  I'd love to have one of the more advanced versions of Photoshop (the one on my computer is archaic), but they're so crazy expensive!  A few months ago, I was playing around with Gimp.  It's a pretty cool open source (read: FREE) photo editing software package that definitely rivals Photoshop.  I had two problems with it, though.  First of all, it's insanely large and tended to crash my computer.  Second, so much in the way of online tutorials is written for Photoshop that it was a bit frustrating. 

Today, I came across a new fun find in a genre that I didn't even know existed before today.  Turns out there is now pretty substantial online photo editing "software."  I'm not talking the "lite" versions like in photobucket or flickr.  There are online versions complete with layers and effects capability.  I haven't had much time to play around with it, but it looks very cool.  Here's Aviary

And, just for laughs...Aviary Launches Crane.  Hope that made someone else laugh, too.  I know I got a good giggle out of it! :-)

Lunch Yesterday
So, I had a lunch yesterday with my department (which includes my 5 months, first try preggo boss).  I just had a funny feeling there'd be preggo talk, but I was pleasantly surprised when we'd made it halfway through lunch without any.  That came to an abrupt end when women started filing in for a baby shower in the next room.  Someone at our table said, "That'll be you in a few months!" to my boss.  Next thing I knew, the entire conversation revolved around maternity clothes, registeries, showers, doctor's appointments, etc. 

I really just wanted to crawl under the table.  I'm reminded that I feel like I'm on a bit of tightrope right now...the littlest thing pushes me into the net and it takes me awhile to recover.  It's unnerving and incredibly uncomfortable...and I'm all too aware that it sounds eerily similar to hubby's depression.  On days like yesterday, I tend to reconsider my OB/GYN's low dose Xanax offer...

Other Random Stuff...
Yesterday's workout...Jillian Michael's isn't messing around and I'm sore today!!
30 Day Shred
This is cool, albeit insanely expensive!  It's BBT on steroids and even comes in many pretty colors to choose from, too! ;-)
Wow!  I really appreciated this view on medicated IUIs and the fact that insurance companies have doctor's hands tied regarding moving straight to IVF where appropriate.
It's NOT Cheaper by the Dozen
This reminds me to be sure to ask the urologist next week whether they're using Kreuger or WHO criteria for the SA.  It also gives me a tiny bit of hope...
Thousands Wrongly Branded "Infertile"
I'm happy to see research being done on MFI issues.  This is both a WOW and a WOAH article, though.
Scientist Create Human Sperm from Stem Cells

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Planning some Shopping Therapy

I've been pretty good since the SA results to not indulge my craving for a tiny bit of "shopping therapy." But, I can slowly feel the craving getting the best of me. For the most part, it's nothing too crazy. I'd like a new outfit for a meeting in two weeks, a pair of brown sandals to replace the ones that just broke...nothing too expensive. Well, except for this one thing...
....a Palm Pre to replace my ridiculously crappy Blackberry Pearl!

My Pearl has been crap for quite awhile, but ever since we started trying, I could put off the desire for a new phone by reminding myself that we needed to save the money for baby. Of course, now I should be reminding myself that we need to save the money for whatever IF treatments are coming our way. And, I will, and we've already been working those things out a bit...but, I just want this one indulgence along the way.

Sort of like a consolation prize for the baby? IF? Ok, here's your Palm Pre. Lame? Selfish? YES! :-(

I'm quick to remind myself that I also take part in less selfish distractions...prepping Gracie for her therapy dog exam, volunteering at Ronald McDonald House, etc. But, everytime my Pearl does something stupid, it gets harder to silence that shopping therapy craving. I guess it would be worse if my phone wasn't already breaking one piece at a time. I really should ease up on myself a bit! Then again, it's not like spending money on the phone is really going to make me feel any better about all of this. Another good distraction, though, I suppose.

Anyone have a Palm Pre? (BTW, I'm sticking with Sprint, so the iPhone is not an option).

Monday, August 17, 2009


I need distractions. I O'd on Saturday...But, for once it's not the 2 week wait that I'm looking to avoid. Right now, we're in the countdown to the 8/25 urologist appointment and finding out (hopefully) what our plan will be. What are percentage chances are right now; what we can do to improve them; if Andy's meds are a problem; and so many more currently unanswered questions! Of course, I also have a nagging realization in my head that we're going to leave that appointment without actually knowing anything new. *sigh* TTC is all about patience and waiting. It's all waiting. And, patience is not my strongest virtue!

So, distractions keep me from obsessing and help me pretent that I actually have some patience! Last week's big distraction was the Twilight Saga (WOW!). I read the entire series last week. By my rough count, I read somewhere around 2,500 pages last week (including Dan Brown's Digital Fortress). Whew! I don't know when the last time I read that much in one week is!!?? But, now I'm sadly done and back to my usual worrying impatience.

Any book recommendations for me? I'm collecting quite the list from my iV buddies. Feel free to add your favorites to the growing list. I'm considering some sci fi options for my next book, but add any and all genres to the list!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Beauty and Danger in Hope

I was a bit shocked this morning when I went back to check today's status on my CBEFM.  It's my daily routine during the "fertile window"....PIAC, back to sleep, wake up later to the alarm, brush teeth, wash face, dip test stick and place in monitor, take Gracie & Audrey outside, feed them...check monitor.  So, this morning was CD12.  I had High days on CD10 and 11 and expected another.  No Dice...PEAK this morning! 

I must admit that I'm pleasantly surprised that I managed to get through 2 days of High readings without worrying about the BD schedule.  I'll thank Twilight and the bad SA results for that.  I've had moments of snappiness (and bitterness) that are uncharacteristic for me, except at this time in my cycle.  But, all in all, nothing like last cycle.

Peak on CD12 means that I'll likely O on CD13 or 14.  Great!  That's the earliest I've ever O'd, so that's partly why I wasn't expecting it.  But, wait...there's a problem!  No BD yet!!  This realization sent me into a bit of a panic, despite the fact that we still have two, maybe three days to fit the BD in.  I know that the odds of us conceiving naturally this cycle are infinitesimally low....and yet, I refuse to skip a cycle.  Maybe a day will soon come when I can "take a break" and it not cause me great angst.  Now isn't that time.

As awful as the 2ww is knowing that the odds are stacked against us, I can't imagine how it would be if I knew that there was no hope at all.  At the same time, hope seems dangerous to me right now.  Well, maybe it's not the hope that's dangerous as much as the almost certain eventual letdown.  I'm going to try not get over-hopeful, but I think it will take considerable effort.  Even still, hope seems much preferable to despair.  I'll hang on to that...and hope.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

So much emotion in three simple words

The title of this blog has been through at least three iterations in the four months. I don't even remember the first few titles...they were cute, but held no actual personal value. More recently, I had settled on "TTC=Trying not To go Crazy." That really seemed very fitting given the pre-O crazies I've been experience, not to mention the general craziness that the entire TTC process can bring on. I liked was unique and did have a personal connection. But, it had one problem. I want to be able to continue to use this blog post TTC when our "someday family" is a "now family", so to speak. And, though we hope to have more than one, "TTC=Trying not To go Crazy" doesn't seem to fit the in between times that I hope we one day get to experience.

So, I finally settled on "Our Someday Family." It just feels right to me, but it does come with its own set of issues. One of them, the biggest actually, is the fact that it implies that we don't have a family now. I would vehemently argue that Andy, Gracie, Audrey and I are, in fact, a very loving family, with or without kids. Sometimes I look into their big puppy eyes and ask, "Why can't this be enough?" Or, at least, why can't it be enough for now like it was in the beginning.

It's no secret that one of the original reasons we got a puppy (Gracie, in the beginning) was to prep ourselves for a baby. It helped for a bit. And, then that longing started to get louder and louder until I couldn't take it anymore, but we still weren't both ready. So, we got Audrey (a puppy mill rescue) and our family felt complete...for a time. Now I'm at the point that the longing screams at me constantly and we ARE ready, both of us. But, it doesn't matter, because now apparently life isn't ready for us. I long for the day when our loving dogs can play with our adorable, longed for baby, toddler, child...

"Our Someday Family" represents that struggle of mine to find peace and then, hopefully, one day to enjoy the family we so lovingly continued. I chose the word continued carefully so as not to discount the one we've already started. It's a very, very fine line between light and dark, crazy and sane, peace and war, all happening in my mind at any given time. "Our Someday Family" encapsulates all of that for me.

Wednesday Hodge Podge (Highs, Books and Workouts)

My post from Monday was right on, as it turns out. The wave of hormones that I registered as mood swings, also registered on my Clear Blue Easy Fertility Monitor (CBEFM) on Tuesday as my first High fertility day of the month. The good news is that, so far, I'm not the raging maniac that I was last month around this time! I think that just knowing what's going on has made it a little easier.

In the last four days, I've started 3 books and finished 2! I go through cycles when it comes to reading books. Sometimes I would rather just read magazines or websites and don't feel the need to lose myself in a book. Other times, I can devour books for days. This is one of those times. And, I'm grateful for the good timing. Reading keeps my head in a book rather than biting other people's heads off (see above, or below post for that matter). It also is helping the time go faster between now and the 8/25 appointment. In fact, we're officially less than 2 weeks away! I think that I'm going to search out one of those bookshelf gadgets for the blog to hopefully keep me motivated to keep reading...Here's the list so far.

Digital Fortress by Dan Brown
One of his first. A little dated in some parts (Prodigy and AOL mentioned in present tense, for example), but the general premise holds true even 10+ years later. It was an enjoyable and fast read with all of Dan Brown's usual twists, turns and puzzle solving.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
I couldn't take it anymore. I caved. If one more person told me that I should read this series, I was going to scream. Rather than scream, I bought the book and joined the throngs of obsessed fans. Amazing how quickly that happened, actually! The want-to-be English teacher in me is also rather amazed at Ms. Meyer's writing ability. Seriously, the amount of emotion she crams into these books is staggering. She writes about facial expressions and the minutia of vocal tone in such a way that I have begun to recognize those things more in real life, too! Any good English teacher could go to town with her writing (assuming you could get past the parental consent necessary to read a book about vampires in class...but, that's a subject for an entirely different post).

New Moon by Stephanie Meyer
I told you I had joined the obsessed! :-) Seriously, there was no way I could not keep reading; they're just that good. That said, I haven't found New Moon to be quite as enjoyable...yet. I'm only 300 pages in. The switch in a few of the main characters keeps things interesting, but I find myself longing for the "original cast." (And that's probably all I can say without it being a spoiler for those who haven't read it yet).

Part of our new healthy attitude (at least one new, healthy thing per day) is more exercise. I dare say that I'm having better luck at this for the moment, but I think I can bring Andy over soon enough. He's focusing more on healthy eating at the moment. Anyway, I've been doing On Demand workout videos through Time Warner Cable...mostly because it's 100+ degrees outside in the afternoon and I just can't talk myself into going out in the heat, even though the dogs would probably enjoy the walk. I've been pleasantly surprised to find that I rather enjoy Leslie Sansone's Walk at Home series. I would have thought it could be pretty boring just walking around the living room, but she keeps it interesting. And, the music forces you to walk at a very brisk can walk 2 miles in right around 30 minutes! I'm not sure I'd have so much luck if the dogs and I were walking outside! Still, I do long for a bit cooler tips so they can get more exercise than fetch alone...
By the way, the English teacher in me also wants to know why Blogger is missing an underline tool for those book titles up above. I just missing it?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Let the Pre-Ovulation Crazies Begin

So, I'm officially on CD9 and I can feel the pre-O hormonal surge beginning. In fact, this is one of the few, subtle double meanings behind the title of my blog. The fact is that since I went off birth control pills (BCP) in March, I have had insane hormonal mood swings around ovulation...and it seems to be getting worse each month!

For lack of a better way to describe it, I'd say it feels a bit like severe PMS, but three weeks too early! From approximately CD10 through O day (usually between CD15 and CD19 for me), I've got everything from paranoia to cry at the drop of a hat. It's very much extreme and it gets in the way of relationships and work, to some extent. Andy is a wonderful source of support during that time of the month, partly because we've dealt with similar issues over the years related to his depression. More than most, he clearly understands the phrase "I can't just flip the switch and make my brain stop working that way." Other people aren't always so understanding. And, I'll admit that the full "wrath" does seem to be taken out a bit more on my pregnant friends than my TTC-ones...and Andy, even more so, takes the brunt of it because I see him most often.

After a particularly awful episode last month, we realized that there was something more going on here than just "normal" hormonal mood swings. Shortly thereafter, my doctor decided that there were a combination of factors converging to create this added insanity...first, I probably have a predisposition to PMDD (Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder) and I'm likely having a particularly hard time coming off of BCP.

The former was not surprising to me in the least. Over the 10 years that I was on BCP, I tried at least 6 different brands all of which caused a myriad of side effects from low sex drive to extreme mood swings. Finally, a doctor prescribed Yaz, of course, is specifically formulated to help treat PMDD. It worked brilliantly for my last two years on BCP. And, then I went off BCP and found myself with increased sex drive (YAY!) but mood swings to trump all of the BCP-induced mood swings combined!

However, the latter point (that I'm just having a hard time coming off BCP) has irked me a bit. I guess this annoyance comes from the "why us," "this sucks" category of my brain. But, I find it particular annoying/frustrating that some people can get pregnant while still on BCP. Others can get pregnant the month after coming off. Still others have no adverse issues coming off it at all. And then there's us...obviously not pregnant while on the pill or shortly thereafter (though, we know the source of many of those issues now) AND having trouble coming off the pill. It's rather annoying!

But, then the rational "what are we going to do about it" side of my brain kicks in. It reminds me that it's not all out of my control. My doctor has offered Xanax if it doesn't get any better or gets worse. Meanwhile, I'm going to get a massage this week, strategically timed at the beginning of the O surge so that I can hopefully fend off the "crazies" a bit longer. I'm also hoping that just knowing that its coming will help me not put myself in situations to trigger it. If all else fails, or in addition to "all else," I'm looking into meeting with a therapist...particularly if we really are on this journey long-term. If your eyebrows were raised at the word "therapist," then look for a future blog post on the virtues of therapy in our society these days, but I digress...(hmmm, shall we blame that snippiness on the pre-O crazies? ;-)

Finding peace on the journey...

Yah, cheesy title, maybe. But, that's a pretty good summary of how I'm feeling these days-- at peace, for the most part. As strange as it sounds given the news, I feel like we're exactly where we are meant to be. The SA results were not really a surprise to either of us. For reasons I can't explain, I've always felt like this process would not be "easy" for us. As it turns out, Andy felt similarly, but never let on until now.

After my rather emotional processing of the new information (SA results) last weekend, I realized that there are so many options that I have no doubt whether or not we'll have kids. The only question is when and how. And, it's the when that causes me particular angst. I'm not necessarily sure that I'm mentally/emotionally prepared to be in this for the long haul, but I will learn (not that I have much choice in the matter! LOL!).

But, other than that last, albeit rather big, hang-up, I (and we) have found some peace with where we are on this journey. I think that's partly because it just feels right. I'm still struggling to figure out how something so crappy can feel so right for us, but it does somehow. We are committed to having a family and to learning what we're meant to learn on this journey. It will likely not always make sense and it will likely be frought with more bad news before the good news. But, we'll get through it, just like we always have, and be closer, communicate better, and cherish each other and our future children more, because of it. Of that much I am certain...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


After taking a bit of time to process the not-so-good SA results, I realized that we had to find a way to get through the next three weeks (until the appointment) with both or our sanity still intact. I had done the research...I knew that our options are limited if we can't improve the morphology. However, what my research also showed me was that there was HOPE!

Sure, worst-case, long-term scenario took us all the way to the most expensive, most in-depth of all the fertility treatments...IVF w/ ICSI. But, rarely do we not put up a fight when things aren't going our way! What my research also showed was that there are things we can do to help ourselves...
- Eat more fruits and veggies.
- Take a specific blend of vitamins, or a highly recommended multi specifically for our situation.
- Cut out cigars (depending on who you ask, a "hobby" or a habit ;)
- Start exercising more!
- De-stress to whatever extent possible.

Those ar the things we can do ourselves in the next three weeks to make the time go by faster. There are other things the urologist will want to do...another SA, probably, blood work, etc. I nervously await his thoughts. But, in the meantime, we don't have to lay down and take this. We can work together, like we always do, to make our dream of starting a family a reality NOW, even when everything looks pointed against us.

So, one new, healthy thing a day...That's our challenge! Hopefully, eventually one new thing will turn into a domino effect of many healthy things without too much effort. I hope!

Just the beginning...

Depending on when you start counting, we're either 8 months or 5 months into our TTC journey. It was 8 months ago that we decided that we were both ready. There was one "minor" detail that had to happen exploratory laparoscopy. That happened in March. No endo=GREAT! Adhesion removed=GREAT! I had to wait until after my surgery to go off the pill, on doctors orders...So, April was when we really could get the TTC show started.

Knowing that there were fertility issues on both sides of the family, we sat some milestones from the beginning. The first one was the lap before we got started. The second, was a four month SA. I've always had the feeling that this wouldn't be easy...every month just made that nagging voice louder. Four months came and went....and hear we are.

I got the call I never wanted, but was somehow not surprising. It went something like..."low count, low volume, low motility, 100% abnormal morphology. Call the specialist as soon as you get off the call with me (my nurse) because your chances are extremely slim without help." My heart sank and I felt some where in between tears and throwin up...

But, I held it together for Andy. We shared a tearful embrace, each trying to be strong for the other. And, then we reminded each other that this wasn't a huge surprise and that we would work through it--together--just like so many things before this.

I started researching the problem. Andy decided to wait until the appointment with the specialist to decide just how much to worry. That's fine, we're two very different people with very different, but extremely compatible personalities. I suppose you could say that we're the epitamy of "opposites attract." I take comfort in talking abou the same thing, even if there's no resolution yet....turning to others who are dealing with the same thing...writing about my feelings...and researching. Andy prefers to take it one step at a time and not worry too much until he's given reason to worry. I hope that our 8/25 appointment with the urologist does NOT give him a reason to worry!

Either way, it is becoming more and more clear that despite the fact that we're on month 5 or 8 (depending on who you ask), we're really only just beginning. And, it's that fact that I'm struggling with this week...

Revisiting the blog...

So, I'll admit, when I started this blog a few months ago, I had high hopes that we'd be pregnant by now. I created this blog to document our journey to parenthood. Despite the nagging fear that ours wouldn't be a quick journey, I'd hoped that I could be blogging about the joys of pregnancy by now. I think I subconsciously held off on posting here because it meant that we were actually on a "journey" and not a first, second, or third lucky try.

I'll also admit that I wasn't originally sure how to manage the blog plus the online communities that I've come to depend on so much during this journey. However, I think that what I've decided is that the blog is best for keeping family and friends up-to-date. Sure, I know that many will say that we shouldn't tell everyone that we're trying. And, maybe I'll learn that lesson by TTC #2. Right now, though, I )and we) really need the support of our friends and family. I'm not really sure how I'll let people know that the blog is here, but if we really are in it for the long haul (like we very well may be), I figure that the blog may end up save us from having to repeat everything to everyone everytime. And, eventually, people may start to ask how things are going anyway...we can just sent them here to catch up.

With those caveats out of the way, here are the reasons why I still think I need to write this more than ever.
1) Writing has always been cathartic for me. I'm really have a tough time with all of this and the emotional roller coaster that goes along with coming off BCP, too. Recent news only confirms that we are very likely at the beginning of what may be a long journey. It will require me to change my way of thinking on this and come to terms with some things I hoped I wouldn't have to. Writing may be one of the best ways for me to do, here it will be!
2) The support I've received online from message boards to blogs has been invaluable! In fact, I'm fairly certain that I would feel rather alone and lost without it. I know there are some that think that exacerbates issues. However, when you are the only person you know going through something, it can feel terribly lonely. The internet makes that a most unlikely occurrence...there's almost certainly someone else going through the same thing, it's just a matter of finding them. I only hope that I can provide the same level of support I have received in these few short months!
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