Happiness Cycle Days 17 & 18: Yard Work

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My wife juggling clementines (the fruit, not the dog) yesterday morning.

Today has been unseasonably warm (10 degrees Celsius), so we spent the majority of the day outside cleaning up our yard and putting up our exterior Christmas lights. By “cleaning up” I mean bringing things in for the winter, taking down trellises, pulling up dead summer vegetable plants, sucking up leaves, draining our four rain barrels, and my favourite, harvesting some fall veggies.

Right now, our lacinato and curly green kale, brussel sprouts, Jerusalem artichoke, and leeks are still doing great. Everything else is dead or wilted, and needs to be pulled out of the ground.

I had fun harvesting some baby brussel sprouts which we just had with our dinner. I sauté them with some butter, garlic, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and broth.

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I also dug up some Jerusalem artichoke (or sun choke) tubers, kind of archaeological dig style. They were washed, peeled, and chopped up, then roasted with some bacon crumbs, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

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Sun chokes are very high in inulin, which is a type of insoluble fibre, and is less likely to spike insulin than potatoes.

Speaking of potatoes, I also harvested a bunch of our giant leeks to make bacon potato leek soup.

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These leeks are from seeds from last year’s crop, and DW did a wonderful job getting them started this year. They are super thick, and have gorgeous long blanched stems.

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Bacon potato leek soup- super tasty!

Today has been a high carb day for me, as we started off our day with some gluten-free pancakes. Tomorrow, I’m back to my regular diet, but for now, I’m enjoying the sugar high.

3 more days until embryo transfer!

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FET#4: Protocol

There are a lot of meds involved in our FET this round, and I thought that I’d like to document it, both for myself, but also to help anyone else who is also going through this. The days refer to cycle day, and non-medical supplementation is in brackets (Chinese Medicine herbs).

Days 3-16: Estrace 6mg daily

Days 3+: ASA 81mg daily

Day 13: Intralipids

Day 17+:
7:30am: Prednisone 10mg, Estrace 2mg, Pink PregVit, 100mg Endometrin, (1000IU Vitamin D, Yuan Support Formula- 4 tablets)
3:30pm: Endometrin 100mg, (Yuan Support Formula)
Dinner time: ASA 81mg, Blue PregVit Folic 5
11:30pm: 5000IU Fragmin, 2mg Estrace, 300mg Prometrium, 100mg Endometrin, levothyroxine 25mcg, (omega 3 fish oils, Yuan Support Formula)

Day 21: Frozen Embryo Transfer

Day 31: HCG beta test

Day 33: Repeat HCG beta test

Sometime after Day 33: Intralipids

Tips:

– Set time alarms on your phone so that you take your meds at the proper times.

– But a pill schedule case like this to organize yourself:

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– inject the Fragmin super slowly

– protect your underpants from leaky Endometrin using long and wide, but super thin panty liners. Better yet- make your own cloth ones, they are so much more comfortable

– clean your lady parts after Endometrin messes, or else it seems to burn down there

I just started the huge combo of meds today, and let me tell you, the Fragmin burns like a B$&@H! I was perfectly fine with the Lupron, Follistim, and Ovidrel injects during my stimulation phase, but this needle would not break the skin without significant force, and while I plunged very very slowly, the medication itself causes a strong burning sensation. I had DW hold my fat roll for me because I needed two hands to steadily depress the plunger, and it felt like she was pinching me as tightly as she could with fingernails (she wasn’t- that’s just what the Fragmin felt like going in). Anyway, I will find a way to make it work, as it needs to be done daily, but right now it is a not-so-distant unpleasant memory. Some advice: have someone else inject it for you, inject the drug very slowly, stop and catch your breath after the burning feeling, inject some more, and so on.

We also keep a stash of homemade organic tea tree and witch hazel wet naps by the toilet to help me “wipe up” any nasty Endometrin leakage (vaginal suppository). I am back to wearing large Cadillac-sized panty liners again too (so as to not ruin my underwear), so the wipes help to prevent some of the chaffing I experienced last pregnancy.

Happiness Cycle Day 16: In-Laws

I know that not everybody feels this way about theirs, but I have been blessed with awesome in-laws. Spending time with them is close to effortless, and they have a certain “neediness” that I enjoy and wish my own mother had: a need for regular phone calls, visits, making time for each other. Being raised by either my grandparents or by my mother who was overwhelmed with unprocessed heartbreak and abandonment, it is nice having my two very stable in-laws in my life.

Yesterday, my in-laws came to visit (they live about 2.5 hours away by car), and I took my MIL to the One of A Kind Show, while my FIL relaxed at our house with the dogs. We saw lots of amazing work, some of which was well beyond our personal budgets, but we did manage to get some Christmas presents done. We also got to sample many yummy decadences such as chocolates, and my favourite- a cranberry pudding with butter sauce (which was gluten free!). A lady walking next to us recommended it, claiming that “once you have this cranberry pudding, you won’t need sex anymore”. Such a bold claim, we definitely turned around and checked it out. It was delicious, but my orgasms are better. Speaking of which, with transfer happening in t-minus 4 days, I better get all that I can now.

After the show, we came home and I made us all a nice dinner. The four of us polished off 5 beers and three full bottles of red wine. A family that drinks together (and doesn’t get into fights), stays together right?

We made them coffee, Cinnabon waffles, and eggs this morning. And they just left for a visit with some friends in wine country.

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My MIL is an avid quilter, and made us an ornament for our tree (we still haven’t hung our ornaments yet), and a Santa (not for our tree).

They also offered to pay for our FET, as a Christmas present, but we couldn’t accept. It was such a nice gesture, but they’re retired, and it’s a couple thousand dollars, not including all of the intralipid infusions this time. Plus, I feel like we need to own this ourselves, though I hope that little spark feels this very clear welcome from grandma and grandpa.

Happiness Cycle Day 14: Downtown

DW took the day off work today, as we had a day of medical appointments, in town and out of town. She has also been so busy and overworked so far this semester that she really needed a “mental health” day as well.

I must mention that I finally had a good sleep last night, after almost a week of terrible anxiety-induced insomnia.

This morning DW made me a decaf coffee (such a nice treat to be served coffee in the morning), we gave the dogs got some consolation pats on the head, and we were on our way.

Our first stop was the fertility clinic’s satellite clinic, which is in our city. I needed to have my blood work and ultrasound monitoring again. Things are on track, with my uterine lining measuring 9.4 today, up from 8.7 of two days ago. I also got a “present” from one of the receptionists, who wasn’t working today, but had mentioned last time I was in that “she’d give me a troll to put down my pants”. I wasn’t sure what she meant by that, but she meant Treasure Trolls, those dolls from the 80’s, for good luck. We joked about for a bit- especially the part about putting one down my pants. Anyway, today, the phlebotomist nurse gave me this on behalf of the receptionist:

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So thoughtful and sweet!

After that, we headed downtown, to see my family doctor. I was really nervous and stressed about this appointment, not knowing how to describe and explain the overwhelming emotions and feelings that I have been experiencing since the miscarriage. When we got there, my family doctor was super attentive, gave me room to talk, listened patiently and compassionately, and gave some good advice. I shared with her how depressed and anxious I have been feeling, how it has continued to affect my sleep and made me weary of socializing with friends who aren’t aware of our situation. She had me complete some forms: a depression questionnaire, an anxiety questionnaire, and a survey on the impact of my feelings on my activities of daily living. It was the first time that I had taken inventory of various aspects of my depression and anxiety, and how it has been affecting me beyond just my feelings and sense of hope for the future. This whole time I’ve been so consumed and obsessed with our miscarriage(s) and getting back to making babies that I completely lost sight of how I have been doing as a person. I mean, I knew that I was depressed, and I knew that I had an anxiety problem, but I had always placed them under the context of the miscarriage, and not really that they themselves are focal points that need to be addressed.

I have battled depression before, and had reached a nice homeostasis with Wellbutrin for years. When I first met DW, I had already been on it for many years, but like most people with mental health issues, because I felt better, I thought “why not, let’s try life anti-depressant free!”. That was a couple of years ago, and for the entire time, I have been fine. However, with the fertility challenges and heartbreak of three miscarriages, I think my dear friend depression has snuck back into my life, and has brought his asshole friend anxiety along as back-up.

I have mentioned my emotional struggles on my blog many times, but didn’t realize how bad it has gotten until I answered those questionnaires, and saw and felt the true concern in DW’s and my family doctor’s feedback on how I seem, and have been behaving. I guess this is sort of what an intervention feels like. I’ve been so caught up in my own head, and needed to hear what other people are observing. My depression and anxiety are a big concern right now, and my family doctor is concerned enough about it to suggest that I start some medications right away. She suggested Cipralex, which is an SSRI, and is effective for both depression and anxiety. I would love feedback from anyone who has taken it before. She says that it is safe before, during, and after pregnancy, even though Dr. Google claims otherwise. But I am convinced that you can search anything and find support for it in the form of a online support forum. This I have learned from the all-consuming world of TTC.

She wants me to double check with the RE that he Cipralex won’t interfere/interact with all of the other stuff that I will be on: estrace, prometrium/endometrin, aspirin, fragmin, prednisone, intralipids. I’ve emailed the RE’s nurse, so hopefully I will hear back soon.

I have mixed feelings about taking the Cipralex. On one hand I think that it would be better for me to just tough it out, that it’s normal to have feelings of sadness and despair, or constant worry, given what I’ve been through. On the other hand, it is becoming more and more apparent to me that my depression and anxiety levels are abnormally high, and the culmination of evidence is that that can negatively impact our potential pregnancy even more than the small risk of cardiovascular defects and autism that have been reported but not confirmed. I look at DW, and some of you who seem “recovered” from your miscarriages, and wonder why I’m still stuck in this destructive loop of depression and anxiety. I realize now that it’s because I am struggling with an extra layer of mental illness.

Work has been harassing me again as well. In the past seven days, the person in charge of leaves has called me three times and emailed me once. This is after talking to her already the first time. She didn’t have anything new to discuss the subsequent times, but rather has been very negative and pushy in her tone. DW says that if she calls me again, that we should complain to the union. The last thing you want to do when you have an employee suffering from a mental health challenge is harass them.

Anyway, after my doctor’s appointment we went out for lunch at our favourite Vietnamese place.

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Then grabbed some baked treats down the street at this great little bakery we found by accident one day the last time we were here. I got a gluten-free chèvre cheesecake, and DW got “the best butter tart ever”, as well as a pear almond tort-like thing that has a fancy French name that I don’t remember.

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We then went shopping at our favourite outdoor store: Mountain Equipment Co-op, where we caught up on some much needed shopping, and bought a couple of early Christmas presents (me mostly).

We also got a call from our primary nurse today. I am supposed to start my long list of meds on Saturday, in preparation for our embryo transfer on Wednesday morning!

I hope that time moves fast, as I’m anxious for our last embryo to come home, but I also feel like I need some time to process everything that has happened today. The good, and the bad new.

Happiness Cycle Day 13: Intralipids

I’ve got two hours to kill while hooked up to an IV bag of intralipids, so I thought I’d type up a post with my left hand. It’s harder than it seems!

I had a crappy sleep last night, as something’s up with my digestive system. I had the worst bloating and gas, which continued overnight and into the morning (poor DW). My diet is so clean right now, that I have no idea what could be causing it. My colon felt like a balloon that was inflating and reaching its maximum stretching ability. As I lay here hooked up to a bag of mayonnaise, all I wanna do is fart. But because they’re checking my vitals frequently, and I’m in a closed room, I’m trying to hold it in. Unpleasant!

Anyways, I’m happy to be doing the intralipids. It gives me some hope for this FET. While I wish we had two embryos to transfer, that’s nothing I can change. All I can do is give all of my love and hopeful energy into this embryo. The RE finally reviewed all of my immune results and wants to put me on prednisone, fragmen, and baby aspirin, in addition to the estrogen and progesterone that I will be starting someday soon. I’m happy that it seems like we’re finally being taken seriously now. Fingers crossed that our embryo is a good one, and that he/she thrives inside me.

As for the intralipids, today I’m having 100mLs injected into a bag of saline, to create a 20% mixture. Then the mixture is introduced to my bloodstream via IV cannula. I’m glad that I brought a blanket, because I feel so cold not being able to move. I also brought my iPad, a decaf vanilla Earl Grey Tea almond milk latte, and two slices of the paleo banana bread that I made last night. I haven’t been able to do much other than type on my iPhone.

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Once I get a positive beta, there’s another infusion (approx four weeks), and then one more after the six week ultrasound. Each treatment is $750, and out of pocket.

The cannula hurt going into my arm, but is fine now that it’s in. I can’t feel the intralipids at all, though I feel colder than usual overall.

The nurse comes by every 30 minutes to check my temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate,

It’s been about an hour and a half, and I’m almost done:

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Tomorrow I have to go in for monitoring blood work and ultrasound again. Hopefully we will find out when our transfer will be. We also meet with our family doctor, who will hopefully agree that it’s in my best interest to continue being off work until I’m in the right state of mind to deal with those additional stresses. DW has taken the day off tomorrow to support me.

More updates tomorrow!