Reason Número Dos- Prolactin?

Prolactin is a hormone produced by the pituitary in pregnant women. My levels were six times the normal levels for women in the follicular phase of their menstrual cycle.

The endocrinologist, whom I will refer to as Dr. Glasses from now on, asked me if I was epileptic or had a family history of it. (No.) She then asked if I was sure I hadn’t been pregnant in the spring. She asked me this on three separate occasions during our visit, the last time, shaking her head in frustration. She asked how I was sure, and if I had a pregnancy test done. I didn’t really think much of it until I got in the car, when I had my “Aha!” moment.

Many moons ago, I had mentioned to DW how that first insem we did at home felt so different, and that I wonder if we might have had implantation but my uterine lining shed too early (I have a luteal phase defect- super short- like normally 8-10 days). The reason I suspected this is because every BFN TWW, I have felt the same, except for that first insemination at home. That time, I had horribly sensitive breasts (I never get this at all- even during the days before my period, and not during any other TWW).

When I took these two pieces of info and cross referenced with my bloodwork history, I see that during our first IUI (at home), I didn’t get AF until 19 days post IUI (19DPIUI). Even on progesterone suppositories, I only made it to 12DPIUI before breakthrough bleeding occurred. I think because it was our first time, I didn’t think it was weird for it to be so long.

Either way, I was very sad to think that perhaps we might have had a chemical pregnancy.

My prolactin had only been elevated the month after that, and has been somewhat within the normal range since then.

Reason Numero Uno- Cortisol?

This post is being published so much later than I had intended for it to. I apologize for that. I needed some time to process the outcome of my visit this week with the endo, as well as fulfill the other responsibilities in my life.

One of the biggest mysteries is my cortisol level. Tested twice, it was the reason that the RE clinic “dumped me” like a deadbeat boyfriend. My first level was in the high 500’s, which is just past the range of normal, but my second level, was well into the 1000’s. The endo finds it very curious, and had no real suspicions that she would share with me. So instead, we are doing two tests: 24 urine cortisol test and the dexamethasone suppression test.

The first test requires me to pee exclusively into this:

24-hr-urine-test

for 24 hours. I brought one into work the next day, and even had it labeled, just in case my colleagues would mistaken it for a gas can. Actually, the nice lady at the bloodwork lab stuck a pretty white Avery label onto it for me and said, “Don’t forget to autograph it dear”. Just in case 2L of my urine becomes worth something some day, I plan on checking Ebay regularly.

Despite bringing it into work, I got too shy to use it there. Instead, I waited until the weekend, where I could act all prison-like, peeing into my “Orange is the New Black” pee jug in the comfort of my own home. Good thing I did, because I insisted on peeing directly into the opening of the jug, and I have terrible aim.

Spillage incurred. My Darling Wife, who knows me so well (my nickname around here is “Spilly-pants”), started lining the bathroom floor with large bath towels.

That my friends, is true love.

That my friends, is also only test number one.

The second test occurs over the course of tonight and tomorrow morning. The dexamethasone is a steroid that I have to take that is supposed to tell my cortisol-producing centers to “fall asleep”. Actually, it’s more like sedating them like Dexter, and seeing which one of the fuckers doesn’t respond to tranquilizers. The next morning, which, for me will unfortunately be a work day, I have to go into the blood lab, drop off my autographed pee jug, and insist that I have blood drawn ASAP to test my body’s response to the steroid. DW was hinting earlier that the steroids have some “beneficial side effects”. [Research it on your own. Careful where you are when you google it.]

So for tonight, I have to set my alarm to wake me a bit earlier, and I will sleep peacefully knowing my wife is okay with the 2L jug of my pee beside the raw chicken breasts in our fridge, and will still love me even if I end up with an enlarged clitoris.

 

 

 

Why I Am Not Pregnant By Now

So today was the long-awaited endocrinologist appointment. I walked into a deserted office, where a simple engraved stainless steel sign sat on the reception desk, clearly and simply stating that “Dr. [So and So] is in the office. Please have a seat and she will be with you”. So I had a seat.

I was a bit early for my appointment, and being in Canada, where you become accustomed to waiting over an hour for doctors who are “running behind”, I started unpacking my laptop, lesson plans for tomorrow, a highlighter…. I was getting set up to be productive while I waited.

Soon however, right at noon and not a minute later, my doctor popped her head into the waiting room, introduced herself, and welcomed me in. I scrambled to stuff all of my stuff back into the already-too-small-for-what-I-was-packing MEC laptop bag, and embarrassingly apologized for making her office my office.

The next 45 mins were awesome. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t having fun talking about reasons why I wasn’t pregnant or why I have such weird hormone levels, but she took the time to go through each abnormal result and we talked it through like colleagues. She also demonstrated compassion when she mentioned time being of the essence and took into account our unique circumstances (my buns, DW’s oven). I also learned a lot that I didn’t already know (which is rare because DW and I are both kind of smarty pants that found each other.

This leads me to three posts that I will name “Reason Número Uno, Reason Número Dos, and Reason Número Tres” in a series that I have decided to name “Why I am Not Pregnant By Now”.

Each will explain the investigative work we are doing to uncover the source of the abnormal results. All will be short and hopefully include pictures.

Coming Out

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I had inklings that I was gay during my early pre-school days, but the moment that I knew I was different from most other girls occurred in grade 3. The story itself is kind of interesting, but will take longer than I have to type right now.

I finally came out to my family when I was 17, and then to my friends when I was 18. Given how Pentecostal and judgemental my family is, I am surprised that I told them first. People shocked me- both good and bad, in how they responded to my declaration of self. Still, to this day (almost 15 years after coming out) I have moments of frustration with the insensitive things my family says.

I try to live authentically. I always have. It certainly hasn’t been the easiest way through life, but when I put my head down at night, I am comforted by the meaningfulness of my journey.

I feel the same about my self. I am a good person, and while I have faults, I am not afraid to admit when I am wrong, and am constantly trying to improve. I am also brave– not jump off a cliff into unknown waters brave, but even bravervisibly queer brave.

Gluten-free Pumpkin Cream Cheese Brownies

Making these for Canadian Thanksgiving!

Gluten Free Gus

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Brownie

A lot of you have been eating Quinoa and Kale Salad; Pumpkin Cream Cheese Brownies are your reward.  We’ve been using pumpkin and/or fall squash almost every day. There is a container of yesterday’s oven roasted pumpkin in the ‘fridge for today’s brownies and ravioli. There is almost no excuse for using canned pumpkin at this time of year. Fresh is supremely better, so we encourage you to roast one or two, use what you need and freeze the rest for later. Buy canned if you must, but stay far, far away from flavorless, practically gray “One-Pie Pumpkin” opting instead for “Libby’s Canned Pumpkin” or “Farmer’s Market Organic Canned.”

This recipe calls for butter, but you may substitute coconut oil.  It also calls for 1 teaspoon of Pumpkin Pie Spice, a blend of aromatic spices that you can likely recreate from your spice cupboard.  Resist the temptation to used more…

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Four things on my mind

Love this blog post!

Queer Femme Mama

1. Sleep (what else?). I have become absorbed in the rhythm of working and family life. While my days are full and rewarding, I spend a good deal of time just trying to get through the daily grind. On a  good night I get about seven hours of sleep, thankfully minus major insomnia lately, because Caitlyn has been so wonderful about taking over the bulk of the night-time parenting.

I try to jump out of bed before 6:30, so I can get a shower and a cup of coffee into me before the baby wakes up. I get her changed, feed her the majority of her breakfast and then trade off with Cait, so I can get out the door before 8 am. She takes Daphne to daycare (or we do it together) and I pick her up just before five. I juggle dinner-making with baby-playing until Cait gets…

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598 and 1069 Mean Nothing to Me

So after the tactless voicemail I received from the RE’s nurse last week which included both: abnormal cortisol levels and cancelled IVF cycle, the nurses did not return my emails nor voicemails for a week! Normally, they reply within a 24 hour period, but this time it took me writing an angry email to coerce a reply.

I had asked to see a scanned copy of my lab results, but instead, she just gave me two values for my cortisol levels which mean nothing to me without reference levels or even UNITS! Sometimes the results are given in mcg/dL and other times it is in nmol/dL, and the conversion factor is somewhere around 27.59 to go from the former to the latter.

The upper range of normal is from 5 to 23 mcg/dL, which converts to an upper limit of 635 nmol/dL. This puts me within the normal range for my first result (pre-Marvelon).

My second result, was taken after I had started Marvelon, which can significantly increase serum cortisol levels anyway, so I’m skeptical of how they feel my second cortisol level is data they can even consider to be reliable.

I asked two other questions in my email, which she didn’t address at all.

For partially privately paid health care in Canada, and for a treatment cycle that costs 11 000 not including the cost of fertility drugs, I was expecting better care.

I’ve been shopping around for different RE clinics, but the reality is that they’re all the same: one doctor, 5 clinics, and a bunch of nurses who have been trained not to think for themselves.

My beef is not with the nursing profession- but rather with how these clinics are run- and how it makes me and other patients feel like we are nothing but a file number with a dollar sign.

Oh- and I’m STILL waiting to hear from the endocrinologist. Argh.