Thursday, August 28, 2014


When I was in the sixth grade, my best friend at the time, Natalie, broke her leg or something.  For some reason, she was in a wheelchair.  So many details of what happened escape me.  The thing that I remember like it was yesterday, though, was how I was pushing her out to the playground for recess.  There was a slight decline.  To us, it felt like a 50-foot, 82° drop, when in all reality, it was probably not much more different than a wheelchair ramp.  I can remember getting a running start on that mammoth hill and pushing Natalie as fast as I could.  She threw her hands in the air, and in her best Tulsa-girl voice yelled, “ZINGO!”  (I should have prefaced this by stating that the Zingo was one of two rollercoasters in the local amusement park when we were kids.  Long live the Zingo memories.) 

SIDE NOTE:  I find it interesting to think back on the memories that I have as a child.  Some of them make so much sense that I remember because they were poignant moments in my life.  Other Zingo-related moments and discussions in high school about a local road having the speed limit lowered to 25 MPH are less clear as to why I can remember them so well.  I’m glad I do, though.  They bring me a smile.  END SIDE NOTE

Rollercoasters, though.  Seriously.  One of man’s best ideas.  I have loved rollercoasters my entire life.  When I was in college, my parents took me to Cedar Point Amusement Park.  It was a drizzly day, so the lines were pretty much non-existent.  I ran from rollercoaster to rollercoaster all the livelong day.  They had 14 rollercoasters, as they are considered the rollercoaster capital, and I rode each of them multiple times.

This past Memorial Day, we took a trip with my family to Branson, Missouri.  We had the kids with us…actually, 7 kids in all.  We spent a day and a half at Silver Dollar City.  I outrode our 17-year old and one of my nephews.  Three of the kids were too small or uninterested, so basically, only our two girls (and Todd) were able to hang with me.  LOVE ROLLERCOASTERS!

Several weeks ago, I had another one of my all-too-familiar anxiety attacks.  Todd and I agreed that it was time to see Maribeth, our therapist, again.  We made an appointment and went to talk to her.  Of course, the night of our appointment, I was feeling much better and more stable because it was 2 nights after the attack.  (Isn’t that how it goes when you get sick and make an appointment with a doctor, anyway?  You seem to get better before you get in to see them.)  Anyway, Maribeth decided to liken our infertility journey to a rollercoaster.  She played us this clip:  (You can skip to 1:12 if you want to get my point.)
“You know, it was just interesting me that a ride could make me so…so frightened, so scared, so sick, so…so excited and…and so thrilled all together. Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the rollercoaster. You get more out of it.”

It made so much sense to me. I have always loved rollercoasters. I love the way they make me feel. Even when I’ve ridden one a few times and know what is to come, there is always something new that I missed the times before.

They excite me, but they also make me a little nauseous.
They bring me thrills, but they also cause my breath to catch when something really exciting happens.
They bring me so much joy, but they also cause me to slightly fear for my life at times.

Rollercoasters are awesome.

Last week, I started my acupuncture and Reiki treatments to help with my anxiety. I wrote this week in my blog that I hadn’t had an anxiety attack in 8 days. Then, last night came. Out of nowhere, something unexplained happened, and I’ve been wearing my feelings on my sleeve for the last 24 hours.
Don't judge me.  This is what Todd sees during my anxiety attacks...but with blonde hair and less-full eyelashes.
I’m trying really hard to control all of these emotions. It’s hard, though. I’ve been trying to force myself to think positive thoughts and use the “cancel, cancel” technique that the Reiki practitioner taught me. I’ve been stopping and taking deep breaths the way the acupuncture practitioner taught me. I’ve been praying to God for peace and positive thinking all day.

Still, the thoughts start to creep in. Thoughts of this cycle not working. Thoughts of how we will just fail, again. I told Todd last night that we have had so much failure on this journey that I think I’ve forgotten what it looks like to be able to imagine a success. I feel like I’ve become a victim to infertility, and I am struggling to see myself as a survivor. All I want right now is to be able to picture the nurse calling to tell us we had a positive test, followed by an awesome pregnancy, and culminating in our beautiful bundle of joy being wrapped in our protective arms. I want to see that in my mind. I want to dream about that. I want to be able to say that’s going to happen without having a voice of doubt tell me I’m wrong. I want to hear others say it’s going to happen without my gut reaction being to correct them. I want to be able to think about succeeding at this without getting a catch in the back of my throat, followed by the pain of holding back the tears.

I know deep down that someday, I will look back at this and praise God for what He did for us. Today, I’m struggling. Today, I just need a little break from this rollercoaster.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

If You Never Do, You’ll Never Know

The last two entries that I have written, I’ve become increasingly aware that I’m not sure if I’m duplicating blog entry titles.  I could go back and look at each title, but I’m a little too lazy for that right now.  Therefore, if I duplicate one, the original one should just be flattered that they received such a well-liked (by me) name.

I forgot to blog that our drugs arrived last week.  They sat on a FedEx truck for several more hours than I would have liked them to, but alas, they made it to us.  Todd unpacked the box while I was having an Infertile Myrtles meeting with Kacy, AKA laying out by the pool and talking about whatever was on our minds.  J  I got home to find he had neatly laid out my unrefrigerated meds on the counter and neatly put my refrigerated meds in the refrigerator.  Good husband!  After looking at the price list, I realized that Follistim cost almost $5,000.  WHAT?!  I had received 5400 IU of Follistim.  For anyone that understands Follistim amounts, that is a LOT.  To put it into perspective, on cycles 1 and 2, I took 1350 IU at each cycle.  I confirmed with the nurse that this was the proper amount.  Apparently, I will be taking 225 IU twice daily (450 IU daily)!  It makes my ovaries hurt just to think about it.
All of our shots & accessories posing for a picture.
The massive box that it took to bring us our goods.
Today was my baseline ultrasound and Progesterone and Estradiol blood work.  I had expected today’s appointment to go well, and it did.  Having diminished ovarian reserve, it doesn’t take much to suppress my ovaries.  As with the first two cycles, this still held true.  My Progesterone was 0.35, and my Estradiol was <20.  The nurse assured me that these were good numbers, or they would have cancelled the cycle.  Duh, Laura, so stop calling us.

Since all went well today, I will start shots on Saturday.  Now, try really hard not to be jealous about this.  I know that each of you wish you could stab yourself three times a day, but I’m the lucky winner this time around.  TFC only gives you your instructions up until the next ultrasound and blood work appointment.  Therefore, I know that I will be taking the following three shots:
·         Follistim 225 units in the AM
·         Menopur 75 IU in the AM
·         Follistim 225 units in the PM

I have to have these approximately 12 hours apart but more importantly, they need to be at the same time each day.  In the past, Todd and I chose to do 9:45 AM and PM.  I give these shots to myself, so I can do them at work.  However, in the past, it has only been a Follistim shot in the morning, which is super easy to do at work.  You have a pin (similar to that of insulin) that you dial in the dose and give yourself the shot.  Easy peezy.  The most difficult part is that you have to keep it refrigerated and find somewhere that is actually private (not a conference room where a co-worker can walk in on you with your pants down if he chooses to ignore the “do not disturb” sign you placed at eye level). 

Menopur, on the other hand, is not easy.  You have to remove liquid from one vial, inject it into another vial with powder, and remove the liquid/powder mixture.  It’s more confusing than Follistim.  Plus, if my memory serves me correct, it has a considerably painful burning sensation during injection.  (Can I get a “more like excruciatingly painful,” Kacy?)  All of that is to say that I would rather do Menopur at home, so I think I’ll be doing that one at 7 AM.  Since 7 PM is not a time that we are likely home, I will probably be setting the PM shot closer to 9 PM.  Once you set your times, you need to stick to them as closely as possible.  Who knew there were so many little details that had to be considered in an IVF cycle?!

A new addition to this cycle for me is dexamethasone.  It is an oral medication that prepares the ovaries for stimulation.  I think it’s interesting that you take that pill to prepare your ovaries on the same day you actually start to stimulate your ovaries.

My next appointment will be next Wednesday, September 3.  They will perform a follicular ultrasound to see how my little follies (follicles) are growing.  They will also run another Estradiol test.  (Based on my last cycles, I will have additional ultrasounds on Friday and Sunday following that first appointment.  This is tentative, though.  Honestly, I’m hoping one of them falls on Saturday instead because I don’t want to have to miss church.  Come on, God.  Throw me a bone here.)

I haven’t had an anxiety attack in 8 days.  Seriously, y’all, that’s a cause for celebration!  Todd and I high-fived each last night when we realized it.  J  I truly feel that my acupuncture is helping.  Plus, I had a Reiki session yesterday, which is similar to a deep meditation while the practitioner lays her hands on you.  It was really relaxing.  In fact, it was so relaxing that I kept dosing off.  Then, I would wake myself up and get back in the right mind to catch my thoughts wandering…and oddly enough to things I have never seen or thought of, like talking squirrels.  Strange.  I told her about this after the session, and she said she didn’t care because she was talking to my subconscious.  Thank goodness because my conscious wasn’t having any of that relaxation without boredom mixed in!

Considering I have had a lot of anxiety leading up to this, I have wondered if we should just move onto adoption instead of continuing with IVF.  The answer is “not yet.”  Taco Bell confirmed that my thoughts were on track today – ‘If you never do, you’ll never know.’  What a brilliant, fast food chain I chose today.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Vacations and Doctors and Babies…Oh, My!

Last week, Todd and I went on a trip to St. John, United States Virgin Islands.  It was one of the most beautiful vacations we have ever taken.  We went to Kauai last year, and they are equally my two favorite places on earth…along with Jamaica.  Maybe I’m just easy to please?!  Anyway, we really needed the vacation to unwind, and that’s just what we did.  I won’t take the time to go into all of the details here about the trip.  However, I will talk about our first three nights.  On a recommendation from a friend, we stayed at Concordia Eco-Resort.  For three days, we had no air conditioning, television, phone service, or WIFI.  Now, with that being said, there was actually AC in the little shop where we stopped regularly to buy a snack or water and allow our sweat beads to turn to salt stains, but there was zero in our cabin.  There was also WIFI in the area around this shop, but we didn’t spend enough time there to use it (except for the only 2 posts of pictures I made to Facebook on the entire trip.)  Basically, we woke-up early with the sun.  We spent our days hiking or snorkeling.  We spent our evenings playing Yahtzee in our room in front of a box fan with the windows open.  It was splendid.  I really could have appreciated a little AC.  However, we have not been this disconnected in what seems like years (which in all reality has only been since our cruise in March 2013).  We loved every minute…again, except for the lack of AC.  There were hermit crabs along the 20 minute hiking trail to the beach.  There were donkeys on the secluded beach that never had any more people than 30 at one time.  There was a hummingbird that visited a tree outside our French doors every single morning.  There were the most beautiful views and interesting snorkeling of my life.  It was pure, sweaty bliss.  I would go back in a heartbeat…but next time, we are staying in a cabin that receives better trade winds.  J  Overall, it was a great week.  Here are the picture collages I made for Instagram/Facebook.
Our first day at Concordia...Todd playing with the crabs & hiking to Ram Head
Snorkeling in Salt Pond Bay
Hiking to Drunk Bay
Dinner during sunset at ZoZo's at Caneel Bay
Boat cruise to the British Virgin Islands...the baths at Virgin Gorda, snorkeling at Treasure Island, & playtime on Willy T's floating pirate ship & bar
Snorkeling at Maho Bay before we headed to Trunk Bay
Our last day, we shared a Coke.
As for IVF, it’s starting, and I have felt every bit of the emotional rollercoaster.  I have been having anxiety attacks once or twice a week for a few months, now.  They are bad, too, and they seem to be getting worse.  I’m pretty sure Todd doesn’t know what to do with my anymore.  He’s the only person that has had to experience them, and I’m pretty sure he’s scared of me.  K  I haven’t had this much stress and anxiety in nearly 15 years, so it’s been worrying me, too.  Today, I went to my first acupuncture appointment.  I was already having a pretty chill morning, so I don’t think I felt any more relaxed when I left than when I got there.  However, I did feel like he understood my issue and gave me good recommendations for what we need to do to fix my problems.  I felt confident in his treatment today and will be seeing him again on Wednesday.  Monday, I have an appointment for hypnosis or Reiki.  I’m not sure which treatment I will get, but I’m excited to try it, too.  I’m going to possibly incorporate both of these into this entire next cycle.  I should be as chill as a ski lift operator in Colorado, except without the munchies.  J

Tuesday, we have my baseline ultrasound and blood draws.  They will be checking to see that my lining looks thin and my ovaries are “quiet,” meaning that they have been resting well and are ready for the big stimulation.  The blood draws will tell them what the starting number for estradiol is, which means something along the lines of how many mature follicles you have.  (Honestly, you’d have to Google it to find out.  In the past, I used to put all of that information on my blog, but this cycle, I’m a little lazier.  We’ll blame it on the excessive relaxation therapy I am starting.  J)  On that day, I’ll get final information about how my cycle will start to look with the stim shots and follow-up ultrasounds.  Basically, I’ll know a lot more that day.

On an even more awesome note, my cousin and dear friend from college gave birth to two healthy little girls this week.  They were almost exactly two days apart.  I’m in love.  Tomorrow morning, Todd and I are driving to Kansas City to meet our niece, Eleanor.  Of course, I still plan to call her Baby Laura…or Leanora, which is just a really funny inside joke in my family right now thanks to our sweet Mimi.  Le sigh.  I hope Bradette still has some of her baby dust to sprinkle on me when I get there.  Maybe sweet Eleanor will be the lucky charm I have needed for all these years!
Eleanor Faye Groves, daughter of my cousin, Bradette, & her husband, Rob
Eleanor, lucky charm
Sadie Stewmon, daughter of my college friend, Tiffany, & her husband, Stew
Happy Friday, y’all!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

I Don’t Want To Be Special

*****WARNING:  I’m in a pretty low spot right now, so this isn’t going to be very happy-go-lucky...or funny...or clever...or probably enjoyable at all for you to read.  This is more for me needing to vent.  Now that I'm finished writing it, I do feel a little better.

Yesterday, I went to see Dr. McKinney for a saline infusion sonogram (SIS) and trial transfer (TT).  The TT is just a procedure to make sure she knows how far the catheter can be inserted into my uterus during the actual transfer.  It’s uncomfortable, but it’s bearable.  The SIS is a test to see if my uterus has any polyps, major endometriosis scar tissue, or other abnormalities that could keep the embryos from successfully implanting.  It is similar to an HSG test I had run early last year with Dr. Bundren.  The major differences are that the HSG looks at the fallopian tubes and uterus, and the SIS just looks at the uterus.  Plus, the HSG uses an x-ray, and the SIS uses an ultrasound machine.  The major similarity is that they are both extremely painful.  This is easily the second worst pain I can remember feeling in my life.  (The first was the pain from the gas left in my abdominal cavity after my laparoscopy in August of 2012.  It literally felt as if my ribs were slowly cracking.)  I, officially, hate the SIS.  If I have to do one again, I don’t know what I will do.  Somehow, I had forgotten how bad the HSG was, but it all came flooding back to me when she began the procedure.  The real kicker?  There was a vent above my head and hanging out inside was my worst nightmare…a spider.  I had to keep watching him to make sure he wasn’t going to escape into the room.  It was just awful.  I could not be happier that all of that is past me.

That was a physical pain yesterday.  Today was an emotional pain.  I have been having recurring episodes of fear that we are not going down the right path with using Dr. McKinney.  Last week, I had a terrible bout of this fear, and after talking to Todd and a couple of friends, I was feeling much more certain that we were on the right path. 

Tonight, I had all of those feelings, again.  I had to go to an IVF class tonight at a boutique hotel here in Tulsa.  Todd has been out of town since early, early Monday morning, but I was lucky enough to get my friend and fellow infertile, Kacy (, to go with me.  (The funny part is that Kacy and I both think the other couples in the room tonight are sitting at home wondering if we were a couple, too.  J  Kacy starts her first IVF cycle with Dr. Bundren tomorrow, so it was nice to have someone sitting beside me that is literally in the same boat as me.)  Anyway, I sat there listening to them tonight and finding myself starting to doubt, again.  It was like a rollercoaster for me.  One minute, I was thinking how this was a great decision to use Dr. McKinney/Tulsa Fertility Center.  The next minute, I was wondering if this was a huge mistake.  However, I didn’t allow myself to break down…until I got home.
Once in the confines of my bedroom, I began to cry.  Having Todd away has probably made all of this worse.  I am consumed with fear and doubt and sadness.  I have been praying to God over and over to give me a sign that we are headed in the right direction.  Todd made a joke that the spider in the room during my procedure yesterday was a sign.  Yesterday, TFC informed us that one of Todd’s procedures would not be included in our package deal, adding $3,185 to our budget.  Today, the pharmacy called to tell me that each round of IVF meds is going to cost $2,800 over what we budgeted; that’s a potential of $5,600 more than what we planned.  Are these signs from God?  How am I supposed to know?

Tonight, the IVF financial coordinator found out who I was and said, “Oh, you’re the special case.”  I don’t want to be special anymore.  I don’t want to need a special contract to be able to do IVF.  I don’t want to need $2,800 more in meds for this cycle.  I don’t want to have to ask off work for a dozen appointments.  I don’t want to have to do IVF to get pregnant.  I don’t want to be like 1 in 8 couples that struggle with infertility.  I don’t want to take 18 pills a day to make sure my folic acid and calcium levels are high enough.  I don’t want to have to tone-down my workouts during another cycle.  I don’t want to need a therapist to talk to about these issues.  I don’t want to have to spend excessive amounts of money on relaxation therapy to help me stay stress-free.  I don’t want to have to plan my life around IVF.

I just want a baby.  On days like today, it feels like that’s too much to ask.