Me versus antibiotics: A battle for my body

Warning: This post is mostly one long complaint. I’m aware I have it better than some on this infertility “journey,” and for that I am grateful. But right now I’m just going to bitch.

I’ve been a human pincushion. I’ve grown gotten accustomed to having any number of wands and OB tools shoved up my lady parts. I’ve had a D&C and a medically-induced miscarriage. And then there was that epic biopsy. I get it — infertility is pain (and I’m just talking physically here, I won’t dare scratch the surface of the emotional). Of all of the things I’ve undertaken physically, I’m currently ranking side effects from my endometritis antibiotics among the crappiest (literally and figuratively).

I am taking 2,000 milligrams of antibiotics per day, for two weeks. That much should knock an infection out of an elephant. For reference, 2,000mg is more than double the amount that is typically prescribed for a common infection, like a UTI. It is A LOT of medication. A lot of medication that has been incredibly unkind to my gastrointestinal tract. Any GI issue you can think of I have probably experienced in the last week. Sometimes several at once. When it’s not painful, it’s irritating nausea (etc.) that just never goes away. I haven’t felt like myself (or, let’s be honest, anywhere close) since mere hours after I took my first dose. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’m just not going to feel any better until the antibiotics course is over. THREE MORE DAYS HALLELUJAH.

As I said, I get it. This infertility business hasn’t ever been easy. But man if this doesn’t really suck.

shutterstock_120021052-1

Image from KevinMD.com

All hail me, the antibiotic queen

The last two months have been, shall we say, a bit confusing in Infertility Land. Following my second unsuccessful IVF transfer in November, my doctor was puzzled why three seemingly good (day 5 and 6) embryos had failed to implant. Statistically, given both my and my husband’s genetic screening are normal, it is extremely unlikely that they were all abnormal.

My doctor:

c869de79b728f8de041470b8f8e2ff14

The most likely candidate for failed implantation in my case (to recap: two failed IVFs, two miscarriages, and a boatload of IUIs totaling more than four years of unexplained infertility) is endometritis.

WTF is that and why does it sound just like endometriosis?

Endometritis is inflamed uterine lining, and I have it. Chronically. And how did we land on this diagnosis? With the most painful biopsy of my uterus I could imagine. I do not mince words here. I have a reasonably high tolerance for pain. I’ve had sporadic kidney stones since I was about 17 years old. I bite down and bear it. A uterine lining biopsy is no joke. I, in fact, nearly fainted. I sat up following the procedure, felt weird, and then hear my doctor and nurse yelling into the hallway for juice and a cold compress as they each grab my hands and check my pulse. It had slowed to about 50/bpm.

This endometritis thing is wack, but at least we’re starting to get some answers. I was asymptomatic, so there was no real reason to test for this before. It’s possible that I contracted the initial infection that lay essentially dormant when I had my D&C for my first miscarriage. The timing of that makes complete sense, actually. Nothing has worked since then. The number one complication of endometritis is infertility. Check! I got that.

I was relieved to have a diagnosis and something to blame the stress of the last few years of fertility treatments on. And thankfully, chronic endometritis is treatable. Just a course of antibiotics should clear it right up! Yes, there would be another painful biopsy waiting for me on the other side of that treatment, but so what?

I dutifully took my two pills a day for three weeks (thanks to a sinus infection prior to my treatment, my course of antibiotics was more like four and a half weeks). Then tried to keep my anxiety at bay for the next invasion of my uterus. You know what helps, though? Valium! The most wonderful nurse on the planet gave me one about an hour before the procedure and I’d slide that pain scale on down to a seven this time around. I was also pretty high most of the day, so I joyfully spent the following few hours in my bed.

Fast forward one week to yesterday… results day. No bueno. The tissue remains inflamed. Three weeks of antibiotics is no match for MY chronic endometritis!

giphy

So, ya know, that’s not fair. The next step is a double dose of antibiotics for two more weeks. And then we biopsy again. Cannot wait for that good time.

In all seriousness, I’m sad. Sad that this easy treatment for this condition we didn’t know I had didn’t work. Sad that the timing of all this effectively prevents us from having a child in 2017, even if I were to successfully get pregnant in my next FET cycle. Which, sure, is fine, but it’s just one more thing that sucks. I made an effort to start the year positively after the last few have beat the crap out of me, and it makes me question why I’m ever positive.

Yes, I’m selfish — I want a baby and I’m pissed that I’ve waited so long to get what I want. Only to just keep on waiting. Now I’m waiting with boxes of probiotics and Monistat to quickly clear the inevitable yeast infection.

Is it time to move on?

It’s a question I don’t really want to ask, but it may be time: Is it time to move on from my clinic? 

The stats:

  • “Unexplained” infertility, diagnosed in January 2015
  • Six total assisted cycles over two years
    • Four IUIs, resulting in two miscarriages (#2 and #4) and two failed attempted (#1 and #3)
    • Two failed IVF cycles
      • One fresh stim cycle
        • Resulting in five embryos for freezing
      • One double embryo FET
    • Two different “lead” doctors on my case

Not great, I hear ya. But here’s the thing: The support staff at my clinic warms my soul. I feel bonded, especially, to my IVF nurse, who I’ve written about before. She’s rooting for my success as much as I am, and that means a lot to me. She answers my questions and eases my concerns day, night, weekend, whatever. She’s in this.

Having said that, it’s counterproductive to throw money (not to mention time) at a place that, to date, hasn’t been successful getting me to my goal. Ultimately, that’s what matters most.

We will meet with the doctor later this month for a post-mortem on this failed cycle, after which, I feel like I will need to make the decision about moving on from this clinic. Dislike.

In hopes of a false negative

Anna and Elsa didn’t stick. Probably.

Does anyone have experience with a false negative pregnancy test following an FET? My husband, ever the online researcher, immediately hit the message boards yesterday following the call from my doc saying that our IVF was, again, unsuccessful. He found many women had experienced a false negative in their first HCG test. The “many” was enough for him to suggest that I retake it later this week. So I am.

I really was not prepared for another negative this time; I was feeling incredibly positive about a good result. The news of another failed IVF hasn’t completely sunk in yet. I don’t know what’s next, other than retaking the test. I’ll do that to give him some peace of mind. He deserves it, too.

Why Leonard Cohen’s passing reminds me of infertility

I’m a longtime fan of Leonard Cohen’s music, particularly his deeply emotional songwriting. I was first exposed to his haunting lyrics in college, and his impact has remained. Many of his songs hold a very special place in my heart because I find that they resonate with me no matter the stage in my life.

Following his passing late last week, especially on the tail of an otherwise emotionally fragile few days including the US presidential election and my own FET, I returned to two of my favorites.

“Hallelujah” is probably Cohen’s most popular song, and for good reason. I played this at my wedding. It is absolutely brilliant. In it, he speaks of both loss and understanding. Two themes those suffering from infertility often have to balance simultaneously. Like many of his songs, I often prefer “Hallelujah” sung by other artists (Jeff Buckley, perhaps most notably sang this beautifully, as did Rufus Wainwright). This week Kate McKinnon did a wonderfully simple tribute to both the brilliant songwriter, as well as Hillary Clinton.

“Anthem” is the other that hits me hard. Perla Batalla and Julie Christensen do my favorite rendition of this song; they exude the struggle, determination and hope that this song speaks to.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

Thank you, Leonard Cohen, for giving us your beautiful music. You won’t be forgotten.

Anna and Elsa

This week embryos Anna and Elsa take the stage. All eyes (and ultrasound wands) on them.

In the time since my first IVF’s failure, I’ve carefully considered when to do my next IVF and how many embryos would come along for the ride. These thoughts have never been far from my mind in the months that have passed. There wasn’t one reason that I decided to move forward with transferring two embryos, but I suppose that if I have to single something out it would be this: I’m tired of not being a mom. I’ve been through too much and have worked too hard. I’m tired. So, at this point, I can’t say in good consciousness, well, two is just too many at one time. It isn’t.

My FET cycle has been a bit bumpier than I anticipated. The estrogen has hit me hard. While physically I’m okay, emotionally I am basically a dumpster fire. I’m probably not what one might call the most emotionally sounds person off-meds, but the Estrace causes me to openly weep at the slightest hint of emotion. Sadness, sure. Also happiness, excitement, anger, pride… it’s been a fun few weeks.

The PIO is another fun, jabby adventure. This is my first time on PIO and I was more than a little surprised by the thickness of the needle. Since I do my own injections (my husband is petrified of one thing, and that thing happens to be needles), shoving that mammoth needle into my butt can prove to be a bit of a challenge. Thank goodness for large bathroom mirrors and reasonably steady hands.

Naturally, I’m rooting for Anna and Elsa. I’d like to think these two embryos have the same sass and spunk as the characters, helping them stick around.

tumblr_static_yayyyy_transparent