Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Progesterone: The Grinch Who Stole My Christmas

When I got my IUI I asked my doctor about progesterone supplements. I had done some research and noticed many women that had an IUI were prescribed progesterone supplements after. My doctor said she wanted me to do some blood work first do see if it was really necessary, so a blood draw was scheduled for a week later. 

Progesterone comes from the corpus luteum. Basically what happens is after you ovulate, the ruptured follicle turns into the corpus luteum which is responsible for the production of progesterone. Progesterone is an extremely important sex hormone in early pregnancy because it builds a strong uterine lining and helps maintain the lining of the uterus to help nurture a fertilized egg until the placenta takes over around the second trimester. An inadequate amount of progesterone often results in miscarriage or if there isn't a fertilized egg, your period begins. 

reproductive system, human: female structure
Hormones involved in the initiation of pregnancy and the development egg cell (ovum) from follicle to embryo.

Progesterone levels rise after ovulation, and the rise can usually be detected about a week after ovulation. According to BabyMed, progesterone levels about a week after ovulation in a nonpregnant patient are generally at least 8-10 ng/ml. Much lower levels usually mean you did not ovulate. Doctors like to see progesterone levels around 16-18 ng/ml or more in pregnant women.

Want to guess what my progesterone result came back as? 8? 6? 5? Let's try 0.46 ng/ml. This tells me two things: 
1. I didn't even ovulate, which my doctor said makes no sense because of the trigger shot I took which forces you to ovulate and my ultrasound right before my IUI appeared as if the egg had already been released.
2. I have a severe progesterone deficiency or what's also known as luteal phase defect. Super.

Looks like I have the latter and I fit right in with the symptoms, which include:
Irregular periods
Not ovulating
Fibrocystic Breasts 
Low Thyroid (Hypothyroidism -ding ding ding! Why didn't they make this connection before?)
Ovarian Cysts
Reduced oxygen levels in all cells (Perhaps this is why I feel like I'm dying when I run?) 
Headaches and more. 

Everything is interconnected. Also because I have progesterone deficiency, I have a 1000% greater chance of dying from cancer.  According to the American Journal of Epidemiology, "researchers found that infertile women who demonstrated a progesterone deficiency had a premenopausal breast cancer risk that was 540% greater than that of women whose infertility was due to non-hormonal causes. Furthermore, the women with a progesterone deficiency had a 1,000% greater chance of death from all types of cancer." Happy New Year to me. Chris hugged me all night when I told him that. I'm not worried though. I know God has a plan for me.

To finish my story, I found out about all of this the Monday before Christmas. That is why progesterone is the Grinch who stole my Christmas. My family still has no idea I'm going through all this. We were all staying at my mom's house and I locked myself in the bathroom and cried and cried and cried. The Doctor called in some progesterone supplements to the nearest pharmacy just in case of the extremely rare chance I did get pregnant. I know it wasn't going to happen though. It was all I could do to bring myself to taking a pregnancy test the following Friday since I already knew it was going to be negative. And it was. 

What kills me the most is knowing that there very well could have been a fertilized egg, but it didn't have the enough progesterone to nurture it to implantation. Every month my heart shatters into more pieces than the previous. This is hard, really hard.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and got to feel the spirit of Christ in their hearts.

Progesterone levels after ovulation (midluteal, middle of the second half of the cycle) in a nonpregnant patient are generally at least 8-10 ng/ml. Much lower levels usually mean you did not ovulate. - See more at: http://www.babymed.com/fertility-tests/progesterone-levels#sthash.ikBCoH97.dpuf
Progesterone levels rise after ovulation, and the rise can usually be detected about a week after ovulation. - See more at: http://www.babymed.com/fertility-tests/progesterone-levels#sthash.ikBCoH97.dpuf
Progesterone levels rise after ovulation, and the rise can usually be detected about a week after ovulation. - See more at: http://www.babymed.com/fertility-tests/progesterone-levels#sthash.ikBCoH97.dpuf
Progesterone levels rise after ovulation, and the rise can usually be detected about a week after ovulation. - See more at: http://www.babymed.com/fertility-tests/progesterone-levels#sthash.ikBCoH97.dpuf

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

When will it be our turn?

It happened again. Actually it happens all the time.
I want to delete my facebook so I will stop seeing pregnancy announcements. Especially for those that are younger than me or haven't even been married as long or are not even married at all. 
It breaks my heart.
When will it be our turn? It just makes me feel more and more broken. Not comparing myself to others has always been a challenge for me. I hate that I do it and try to refrain from it as much as possible. It's hard not to compare myself to the couple that got pregnant after a few months of marriage. It's hard not to compare myself to the girl that wasn't even trying. It's hard not to compare myself to the girl that's not even married. When will it be our turn to share happy news? Why were they chosen over us? 

*insert attitude adjustment here*

I am so thankful for our doctors and everyone helping us to reach our dreams.
I am so thankful for modern medicine to help my body function properly.
I am so thankful for my loving family even though they have no idea of this struggle we're going through.
I am so thankful for my wonderful friend Ashley who I can confide in.
I am so thankful for my sweet and supportive husband that dries my tears and keeps me going.
I am so thankful for my loving Heavenly Father and Savior who know me and my desires.

Monday, December 16, 2013


So of course once a plan is set perfectly in place my body has to go mess things up. After I got home from work the day of my ultrasound I realized I had forgotten to take an ovulation test that morning. So I took one expecting nothing of it and lo and behold it was positive! Shoot. Shoot. Shoot. Shoot. Shoot! What do I do? The office was closed and in a moment of panic I telephoned the doctor on call. Good thing I did, because he told me to take my trigger shot right away and schedule an IUI for the next day. I felt horrible calling him after hours, especially since he was at his son's viola concert. But at the same time, I think I saved him for boredom because he told me he didn't want to listen to it anyway! Unfortunately the positive ovulation test messed up the timing of everything and made things harder to control. He had me take the trigger shot to help ovulation just in case. The next morning I was able to schedule the insemination in the afternoon and collection for Chris at noon. It messed up Chris's work schedule and meetings but it all worked out. Thankfully his semen analysis was so much better this time. And motility was at 86% compared to 52% last time! Even though I only had one mature follicle, I think the IUI was still definitely worth it.
Just waiting for another IUI!
I asked my ovulation specialist if she could do a quick ultrasound just to see if we could tell if the egg had been released. It was really hard to see but it looked as if it might have and there was a corpus luteum collapsing.
This IUI seemed much smoother and there was a lot less discomfort (even the dreaded speculum wasn't so bad). After laying down for a little while I went on my way and worked from home the rest of the day. Overall things just feel so much more "right" this time. Even though the plan changed a little, everything feels great and I'm so thankful I felt a prompting to take an ovulation test. Had I not, we would have missed it and the whole cycle would have been wasted.
Post IUI Relaxing

Yesterday Chris and I went over to help unpack my mom's new house and we found a tape recording of me when I was a baby up to when I was three. Chris and I kept making eye contact and it was like we were reading each other's minds: We can't wait. Praying this one sticks!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Injections and ultrasounds and a cyst oh my!

It's funny when you're trying to conceive and doing all these fertility treatments how something so small can make such a huge difference. Before treatments I just thought about how sperm meets egg...everything goes right...baby! But now there's so many more steps to think about. The picture just got a whole lot bigger. I'm banking on these teeny tiny follicles to become the right size and then for at least one egg to grow and be released. Then I'm focused on having a good sperm count and praying that one little swimmer finds my little egg. And then for that little fertilized egg to implant into my uterine lining. Then wait for it to grow, grow, grow, and pray I won't miscarry and that in nine months time give birth to a precious child. It is all such a miracle! I cannot wait for ours. It will happen one day, right?


After doing 3 FSH injections the past week, today I went in for my follicular ultrasound to see if I'm ready to take my hCG trigger shot. They found a fluid filled cyst on the outside of my ovary, but it doesn't look like it will impact this cycle at all. They're going to check on it again in a few weeks. As long as it isn't growing or doing anything abnormal, they're not too concerned. Aside from that I only have one little ripe follicle on my right ovary, at about 16mm. My lining also looks perfect. I will trigger tomorrow night and have my IUI on Sunday. I was surprised when they said that, since I didn't think they would be open on a Sunday, but for time sensitive procedures like this they are. I'm really excited! Hubby and I know what to expect this time around and things just feel better than last time. That means I will take a pregnancy test the Sunday after Christmas...maybe Santa will come late this year? I'd be fine with that!

I'm a visual person, so I like this diagram to explain why follicles are so important. Before we started treatments I thought there's just an egg chilling in my ovary ready to pop out! Ha! There's more to it than that. The follicle has to mature and become bigger for the egg inside to be released from the follicle.

Keeping prayerful hearts for Sunday! 


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Don't Give Up

I was having a really tough time the other day. I was down and felt like nothing was ever going to work. That each treatment would result in more disappointment. That my dream to be a mom would never become a reality. It was one of those days where I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. 
I had to make a quick run to Costco that day. As I was leaving I waited in line to give the lady my receipt. I must have looked pretty down because the next thing that happened amazed me. 
The lady looked at me handed me my receipt and said, "Don't give up." 

I was speechless as I walked away. I didn't even think thank her. How did she know? How did she know those were the three small words I needed to hear? 
I love that about the Christmas season. People are extra kind and caring. She gave me a little piece of  hope to hang onto so I could make it through the day without dropping a tear. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Try Try Again

I came out of my IUI with small hope. I didn't want to get excited in fear that the it wouldn't work.

But of course I started to have hope, lots of it. Chris too. He was getting excited. I think the pregnancy hormones from the trigger shot started to confuse me into believing this was actually happening. That the procedure worked and we would announce wonderful news to our families come Christmas. But in one moment it's all dashed when you realize you started your period. It came only nine short days after my IUI. Typically it should be about 14 days. We were in California for Thanksgiving with family so I had to hold my all emotions in. I told Chris before bed and I let out silent deep tears. Being around family was probably a good thing because I had to try and act like everything was okay. I think that helped my attitude in moving on.

I wasn't planning on trying in December so we could enjoy the holidays, but everything happened so fast and soon that I decided to go through it all again. Thankfully I will be in another two week wait for Christmas and won't need to see the doctor during that time.

I called our reproductive center and told them the news and asked what we should do this time. We are doing the same treatments as November, so I will be taking Femara and the injections again with the IUI. We know a lot more coming into it this time around so hopefully that will help.

Honestly, it's hard to not to wonder why my Heavenly Father isn't allowing this to happen. I beg and plead with him and hope he will give us a miracle. I have always had a hard time being patient. When I know I want something, I want it now. So perhaps He is trying to teach me patience. The teacher is always silent during a test. Even through the temptations to rebel against hope, I will fight back and hope that much harder.

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