When the Going Gets Tough

Today I took my first Lupron Depot injection.  A few months ago when we were trying to prevent me from ovulating, I took small doses of Lupron every day subcutaneously.  Today’s shot was the big sister – a 30-day supply of Lupron in one hip shot.  The idea behind this new protocol is to cut off my body’s estrogen supply since estrogen feeds the endometrium.  We’re hoping that by giving the endometrium both inside and outside (that’s the endometriosis) of my uterus a break, then it will respond much better when we gear up for another transfer in 2018.  Lupron’s job is to tell my pituitary gland to stop releasing luetinizing hormone (LH), which triggers ovulation and the release of estrogen.  So what does no estrogen mean? You guessed it! An induced menopausal state for the next 2 months. Thank God a cold front is moving through.

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I have to admit that at first I was hesitant to start the Lupron protocol right away.  After our last failed transfer then the biopsy, I wanted a break from everything.  Our doctor gave me the option of taking as much time off as I needed, but we decided to move forward with this new protocol beginning in November since it only meant 2 shots for the rest of the year.  Still, a part of me was worried that I had let my impatience get in my way and had committed to this plan prematurely.  Sure it didn’t mean I had to take daily injections or pills, but I was still doing something infertility related.  “Does this really constitute a break?” I thought.

Then this weekend I realized…there is no such thing as a break.  Infertility, it’s just what we do! Seriously though, why did I even think that after 3 years of trying to get pregnant, I could just put that desire to be a mom on the back burner for 2 months?   Physically, yeah, we’re taking a break, but emotionally…I’m not sure we’ll ever get one.  In fact, despite the odds being stacked against us for so long, I still had a little bit of hope this past month that maybe we would be one of those stories people told about their friends who tried for years to get pregnant and did “IVF and everything” and then it just happened unexpectedly.   But Aunt Flo’s arrival this weekend shot that to hell. So no, there is no break, because every month is a reminder of what we are…childless.  And honestly, the closest I can get to a “break” right now is to shut down my ovaries for two months.  So with all that weighing heavily on my mind, I had a meltdown Monday night.

I was tired from traveling 5 hours for work that day.  Other than that, the evening was off to a good start.  Brennen harvested his first broccoli plant, so we were having fun documenting his suburban gardening milestone.  Then, we came inside to watch DWTS (Brennen, don’t kill me).  I was reaching across the coffee table to get my computer when the weight of my right arm knocked one of the loose boards out of place and I fell through the middle of it.  It’s ok to laugh! I did too, at first.  Then I realized my arm hurt pretty bad and that Brennen was still laughing.  I was embarrassed. I can’t remember the last time I felt like that in front of him.  With tears in my eyes like a 5 year old I said, “Stop laughing at me.”  And like always, once I started crying, it was hard to stop.  Forget the embarrassing fall. I wasn’t crying about that anymore. My tears turned into those of anger. I’m tired of constantly failing.  What gives? Why us? How much longer? And with every question, I cried harder.

Afterwards, I sat on the couch and stared at the TV with that all-too-familiar heaviness.  Today, I’m better. Still down, but better. Sadness hits me suddenly like that. And like I’ve said so many times before, when it does, I recognize it but then say goodbye to it.  Unfortunately, lately it’s getting harder to say goodbye. But I’m trying…little by little.  Things are tough right now on the infertile front, especially with the holidays approaching, but we’ll make it through. If being upset at Aunt Flo’s arrival means anything, it’s that we still have hope. And today marks the first day of a new plan and a new hope.

Hey, you know what they say! When the going gets tough, the tough get menopausal!

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Well $h!+

Let me start out by saying that the 2-week wait to see if my lining was thick enough for transfer was worse than the 10-day wait for a pregnancy test.  In fact, it’s second only to the wait for the call that tells us how many embryos made it to blastocyst stage for freezing.  I wouldn’t have said that a year ago when my uterine lining wasn’t an issue.  Through 3 IUI’s and 2 transfers, I had always measured around 9mm.  But recently, my reproductive system has had a new hurdle to get through – my lining.

After my baseline appointment on September 20th, I made a list of everything I could possibly do to thicken my lining and planned it out over the next 14 days.  Aside from the Estrace pills my doctor had prescribed, I was going to take a natural approach as well.  Every day I drank 8 ounces of pomegranate juice and red raspberry leaf tea.  On top of my pre-natal vitamin, I added DHA, which gave me an extra boost of Vitamin E for blood flow.  I threw in some L-Argenine in the last week before the scan.  I made a point to get up and move and stretch at work since my job is pretty sedentary.  I gave myself fertility massages almost every night and used an essential oil mixture as my massage oil.  I also meditated before bed using a program specifically designed for frozen embryo transfer preparations.  It would say things like, “Picture your uterus as having open arms, stretched out to welcome new life” or something like that.  I rolled my eyes about it at first, but it absolutely helped me relax.  Brennen even meditated with me but was sure to watch enough football to prevent growing a uterus.  The night before the checkup, he said, “Well if it’s not thick enough, it sure isn’t from a lack of trying.” After two weeks of all things uterine, I gave him an “Amen.”

Fast forward to Thursday morning as I nervously braced myself for the ultrasound.  My uterus popped up on the TV screen, and the nurse practitioner said those dreaded words, “It’s not quite thick enough.”  She then proceeded to click around for a measurement….5.33.  WTF?! That’s the thinnest it has ever been.  In frustration I said, “What the heck? It was thicker than that when I was on birth control.” And it was! At my baseline ultrasound 2 weeks ago (before Aunt Flo) it was measuring over 6.

We use a local fertility clinic for outside monitoring, so we usually don’t ask questions during our visits.  They just measure and send info to our clinic.  But in desperation, Brennen let out a huge sigh and asked, “I mean, what in the world is going on?”  The nurse practioner, unfamiliar with our case, didn’t really have any specific answers for us but said they see this sometimes – an uncooperative uterus – and that my body may need another way to take in estrogen.  Obviously this little blue Estrace pill is not doing the trick. She printed a picture of my uterus for me. (Note to self: buy darts).

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So what does this mean?  Transfer cancelled.  We knew going into that appointment that it would be cancelled with any measurement less than 8. We had accepted that.  And I think that if it would have been 7 or 7.5, we would have told ourselves, “Good try. We’re getting there.”  But man, at 5.33, you can’t find anything to be positive about.  Brennen held it together as we left the clinic; he was on the verge of tears.  Me, you couldn’t see disappointment on my face, but my body felt weak and sluggish, as if I could feel the sadness all the way to my bones.  I took the rest of the day off work.

Nurse Memphis called that afternoon to talk to me about the next steps.  Next week, Brennen and I will head to Memphis so I can have a biopsy done on my endometrium.  All I get is a Valium, so that should be fun, right? While we’re there, we’ll make a game plan for 2018, but as for 2017, we’re done.  Last year, I found out I was pregnant on Thanksgiving Day and miscarried on Christmas.  We’ve done the infertility-over-the-holidays thing and don’t want to do it again.  This holiday season, we’ll regroup and give IVF a backseat.  For three years, we’ve tried to get pregnant, and for three months, I just don’t want to try.  We’re not giving up, we’re just coming up for air.

Prayers for our trip to Memphis!