Monday, April 20, 2009

I love a good doctor

We had our appointment with Dr. O through U of M hospital today. He's brilliant, realistic, informative and patient. I was so pleased with our appointment. Dh's testicular ultrasound came back showing minor varicoceles, absolutely nothing they would operate on and defiantly not the cause of our poor sperm. His testosterone is low (218 total), which we knew and Dr. O feels the low testosterone combined with some excess weight are two problems we can tackle right away. The excess weight contributes to additional fat in the legs and stomach areas, which increase the heat of the testicles. Excess fat also screws with your hormones and can alter testosterone and estrodial production. Dh has said he's committed to losing a few pounds to see if it helps. I could definitely shed a few pounds also, so we're both excited to be in this together.

Dh has been prescribed 25 mg of clomid and he will start that along with a very long list of supplements tomorrow a.m. Despite a frenzy after a long and intimate google affair this weekend, Dr. O said that none of the results indicate that there would be an increased risk of miscarriage or stillbirth. In fact, our numbers are not even low enough to warrant genetic testing. Cheers to that! He's hopeful that with weight loss and clomid we can increase our numbers, hopefully enough for IUI success. He would strongly prefer that we use fresh sperm, so we need to find a clinic that doesn't require a 6 month quarantine. M & I will be on a search for that as the time gets closer. Clomid takes 3-6 months to show improvement. We have an appointment July 20th and we'll have another SA done about a week prior. I'm trying to find the balance between staying positive and not setting myself up for heartbreaking disappointment. For now, all we can do is focus on a healthy lifestyle and lots of meds. Between my supplements for menopause and dh's new set of pills, we have a small pharmacy between us. This might be the first picture in our child's lifebook...this might just be the first step, the first pill, toward an amazing journey.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

It would only happen to me

...and anyone else out there in the infertility world that can understand how completely devestating this could be.

I went to the lab to pick up dh's final SA results. We have our appointment on Monday with the fancy urologist and we need these results for Monday. This SA we abstained for 4 days instead of 3, hoping that his numbers would increase because each SA has been getting progressively worse. I had called the lab prior to leaving my house to confirm the results were ready but when I arrived they said they were incomplete and it would take 7-10 days. It never takes 7-10 days, it takes exactly 2.5 at this lab. However, sometimes they simply haven't taken the time to input the numbers into the computer but the pathologist has the results already at 2.5 days. I requested a manager and she explained to me that all the results are in the computer except for the morphology, she would print me the results right now that would include everything except morphology & that report was being faxed as we speak from the Cytology department.

She returned in just a few minutes with the SA results, less the morphology, and as soon as I read them I wanted to cry. They were almost perfect. The joys of motherhood were consuming me, as I sat there, with nearly perfect SA results in my right hand and in my left arms laid my sleeping nephew that I was babysitting. I looked at him in that moment and understood that one day, I too would have a baby that might have his father's eyes. I sat in my joyful state for about another 15 minutes until she returned with the morphology report. She handed me a handwritten report, with the pathologists actual handwriting. I immediately looked under the morphology section and noticed that the "Percent Total Normal" was missing, which is what I needed. I asked her about it and she phoned the lab to inquire. While I was waiting I started to read the other notes on the pathology report and noticed that they greatly differed from the printed almost-perfect report that I had been given. Clearly, there was a mistake.

After an hour and a half of research, it was discovered that they have recently hired a new pathologist and after the tenured pathologist performed our SA, they kept the results from the new pathologist and challenged him to perform the SA to see what numbers he came up with. Apparently he's an eternal optimist because all his numbers were nearly perfect. Someone made a "data entry" error and entered in the incorrect numbers. Our nearly perfect SA was suddenly the worst SA we've ever had. Only 2 million sperm, 2% motile, and 25% normal. Devastation doesn't even begin to describe it.

I kept a copy of the handwritten report because under morphology there were several words written, none of which I've seen before in describing my dh's sperm: acrosomal deficiencies, amorphous, bent head. After a lot of google research and a call into our TS M, who is 3 weeks shy of being an RN, we discovered this and this and lastly, this. Devastation doesn't even begin to describe it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Our happy pills

I ordered all the supplements for dh today, all of which have some type of study that shows it helps to improve sperm count, motility, or morphology. He's got a long list of pills to take and they are:

1. Selenium 200 micrograms once a day
2. Vitamin C, 500-1000 mg, twice a day
3. Vitamin E 400 international units once a day
4. Zinc 50-100 mg once a day
5. Coenzyme Q10 30-50 mg once a day
6. Folic acid 400 micrograms a day
7. B complex once a day
8. Fish oil capsules 2-3 times a day
9. Multivitamin with trace minerals once a day
10. L-Carnitine - 500mg twice a day
11. L-Arginine - 2-4g per day
12. Acetyl L-Carnitine 500 mg
13. Pycnogenol 100 mg

Hopefully we will see some major improvements with these supplements. I can't wait to do another SA in 3-4 months and see our improvement! These will officially be my happy pills if they make our sperm better! There better be an improvement too because it costs a small fortune for all of these meds. We are doing our last SA before the supplements begin on Tuesday evening. That will be 4 full days from our last ejaculate, I'm hopeful that perhaps the increased length of time will give us more swimmers. There is a very interesting study that references some of the above mentioned drugs. I'll be taking that to our appointment with Dr. O on Monday to get his advice. I'm counting down the days until we see him, I can't wait to talk with him. He'll have a total of 4 SA's, a urinalysis, bloodwork, and testicular ultrasound to review so I hope he'll be able to tell us something.

M & I texted back and forth a few times today. My heart races when I receive a text from her, it's the greatest feeling. I hope this honeymoon stage never ends. I know we'll have disagreements and there will be an amazing amount of stress in our friendship when the TTC stage begins but I know that I will always hold a spot in my heart for her only. Even if we never conceived (which isn't going to happen), I feel that she's been so supportive and such a delight to be friends with, just knowing she has it in her heart to do this for someone leaves me speechless. I love her.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I heard her voice & SA #2 results

For the first time, M & I spoke on the phone today! It was so exciting! I was driving somewhere for work and I can't think of anything better to do while driving than talk on the phone (I have a blue tooth so it's perfectly safe as far as I'm concerned), so I texted her (I did this before I started driving), to tell her I would be driving and maybe we could chat. She texted back and said she'd call in a minute. And....she did!

It was so wonderful to hear her voice. Now as we email & text each other I can visualize the sound of her voice, the inflections, and the way she articulates her words. She lives in a neighboring state but I really thought she had an accent. I asked her about it, and she thought I had an accent too. She thinks most people from Michigan have accents.

We chatted about random things such as in-laws, upcoming Easter plans, and of course surrogacy. Surrogacy did not dominate the conversation & I didn't ask any specific questions, I certainly wanted us both to feel like we were talking with friends and not partaking in an interview. I hope she felt that way because I certainly did. I was only a slightly nervous during the conversation, but now that it's over I'm asking the age old "did she like me?" question. I hope she did.

Speaking with her and hearing her kids in the background and being able to communicate so openly and honestly with her reassured me of our decision. I do not want to partake in a surrogacy journey that lacks honest & open communication. It's so nice to know I can just pick up the phone and call her when I want to hear her voice or check on the baby. This is the journey for us and she is the one to make it happen.we

Well, she's the one to make it happen assuming we can get our damn sperm to cooperate. I received the results back from our second semen analysis. I hate sperm. I'm so frustrated because I don't understand why it changes so drastically. This time we had:

6 million sperm (was 9 million 3 weeks ago)
8% normal morphology (was 40 something %)
4% rapidly motile (was 13%)

Why? I want answers. We have an appointment on April 20th with the best urologist in the state. I'm hopeful he can give us some answers.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Notes From the Universe

I subscribe to daily "Notes From the Universe" that are delivered to my inbox every morning from this website. The notes are written by one of the contributors of The Secret and always inspire me to think differently about my circumstances. Today's note was exceptionally profound. It read:

A flower doesn't turn toward the sun because it needs to, but because it wants to, and so the process is effortless and joyful. All things considered, Sara, what do you WANT?

-The Universe

I began to tear up when I read this note. So many times, as not-so-proud members of the infertility community, we consider all of our options as sub-par simply because they are not the way we dreamed of conceiving our children. Those who are trying IUI for the first time wish they could just make love in private to create their baby. Once IUI fails, those who consider IVF have let go of the hope that pregnancy with come naturally and they are frustrated with the tens of thousands of dollars that it costs to make a baby. For those of us who result to using an egg donor, surrogate, or both feel that we would give anything to carry our own baby and we long to feel the kicks inside our being that we know we'll never experience. We all spend too much time looking back while trying to move forward. There isn't any circumstance that allows for safe and successful travels when your eye is always looking the rear-view window as your vehicle plunges forward. Infertility is no different.

When dh & I attempted a GS journey almost 2 years ago, using my own eggs, I'm not sure I could ever get over the fact that another woman would carry my baby. No doubt, I had immediate love and gratification for her but I still couldn't help but be overcome by my own grief. Today is a different day. This journey with M is different, I feel overwhelmed with her generosity and I wonder every day how I will ever be able to express my thanks to her but my grief interferes less frequently. I realize I'm infertile and I don't have a uterus to carry a baby or an egg to make one, which leaves me with choices. I used to think those choices were all terrible options because none of them allowed me to carry my own baby. Today, however, I realize the choice I want is to make a baby with my husband's sperm and another woman's egg. I want her to carry our baby, nurture it, allow me to sing to it and anticipate its arrival. I want this. It's not a default decision when all others have been eliminated. It is my choice and that gives me hope, power, and satisfaction beyond what I ever dreamed possible. I choose surrogacy, it didn't choose me.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Shut up, Oprah!

I adore Oprah, she truly is one of the most remarkable people alive. She is generous and pure in ways that I believe we all should be. Everyday I DVR her and truly enjoy my time to watch her show. She makes me cry, laugh, and challenges me to be a better person. Today, however, she pissed me off.

Her show today is basically about the "realities" of motherhood. Moms are confessing some of their deep confessions about how overwhelmed they are as mothers. One mom admitted that she actually forgot to feed her child dinner, another admitted that instead of bathing her children she'll have them go in the hot tub instead hoping the bubbles were enough to make them clean. One woman actually admitted to having a favorite child, someone lets her kids eat pizza for breakfast at least twice a week. The most difficult confession to hear was the woman who said the day she had to go shopping for a mini-van was the worst day of her life. I would give anything to be shopping for a min-van right now! I can't wait to get behind the wheel of a van, complete with the "Baby on Board" sign and packed full with baby paraphernalia and a screaming baby in the back. I can't wait!

A guest on the show said that after she gave birth she had to mourn the loss of her old self. Mourn. The. Loss. of. your. old. self.? I would love to get a chance to speak to that woman & tell her a little bit about what its like to lose yourself and then mourn that loss.

They had a mini-clip after commercials about "What no one ever tells you about motherhood" here are the some of the's comfortable to feel the underside of your boob on your belly, baby boys wake up with woodys, it's so difficult it is to be a mom but no one will tell you because if you knew you'd never do it, you might not love your baby right away, you will hate your husband...

I'm so angry I don't even know where to begin. I think Oprah needs to do a show about "What No One Ever Tells You About Infertility."

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A new day

Actually making a baby related purchase yesterday temporarily paralyzed me with a strange feeling that I did not recognize myself. I have never been able to just 'let go' and be ridiculously optimistic that everything will work out the way it is supposed to and that is exactly what I am trying to do. However, I've also never experienced the deep depths of depression that a tragic circumstance such as infertility can bring. Perhaps it is because I've seen how twisted my life became in the midst of infertility that I can now force myself from entering that space again. I cannot give myself permission to emotionally follow the ups & downs of doctor's appointments and new bits of information as if each one is either life-ending or life-sustaining. I've done it before and I know the outcome is not good. While it's inevitable that I will be have emotions regarding whatever the latest doctor's appointment tells us, I cannot become those emotions. I can experience them, validate them, and then understand that they do not (and cannot) control me. I'm thrilled to be back into the world of surrogacy, a world that I thought was off limits once I had no genetic contribution to make, and I cannot let this journey tear me down like the last one did. I refuse to let it.

I confessed to dh today about the purchases I made last night. He thought it was 'nice'. He's such a laid back guy. Nice? He clearly didn't understand the volume of importance that making a baby purchase holds. I emailed M to tell her my confession also, her response was "I'm glad you are realizing that this is really going to happen-you ARE going to be a mommy." She left me speechless. I wonder if she knows how powerful those words are, particularly coming from the woman who holds the power to make me a mommy. We have became such great friends in the past few months. It's wonderful too because we're both able to be ourselves...we complain about our husbands, talk about work or her schooling, the extra-long winters were having. I feel like I know her far beyond the morsels of surrogacy that exist within her. That is just a part of her, of course, that is the part that brought us together and the part that connects us in ways that no one else could but I do not believe it is the part that sustains our relationship. She is someone I would be friends with even if she hadn't offered to carry our baby. I think that is the most important part of our relationship. It's amazing the change of perspective that I've had since finding a path to parenthood that I love as much as I love this opportunity.

Friday, April 3, 2009

What am I thinking?

For the past few months I've been communicating with M, a fabulous woman who wants to be our TS. I've been scared to articulate these thoughts outloud, this all seems too good too be true. We've discussed all the major issues that can arise in TS and we're very much on the same page. So, we decided yesterday to officially announce our 'match' on a surrogacy forum that we both frequent. So, it's official. I'm thrilled, estatic, and trying to force myself not to be scared. She knows were not ready to start until next year, which gives us ample time to build a friendship & work on improving dh's sperm. We had another appointment at the urologist yesterday, we're doing a few tests to rule somethings out and then we'll be starting dh on clomid to try to improve his sperm counts. We have another SA next week too. The clomid takes about 6 months to see if its improving or not, so thankfully we have time.

The title of this post-what am I thinking-is because someone announced on another wesbite that Udder Covers was offering a promo for free udder covers (nursing blanket covers), all you have to do is pay shipping. The covers are normally $35 & I just got them for $7.95. I ordered 1 pink & 1 blue. What the hell am I thinking? We're more than a year away from TTC and I just ordered a nursing cover? I'm truly trying to force myself into optimism...I guess this is one way of doing it. I just need to rememeber to breathe. This is a lot.