Author Archives: Monique
…so don’t even bother asking me to.
Wow! The plan for this week’s blog post was SO different than what it has become. I guess I can just save that one for a later time.
So let’s back up a second. Yesterday I downloaded Resolve.org‘s Listen Up toolkit for this year’s National Infertility Awareness Week. It’s next month, April 23-29…the 29th is my birthday. After I downloaded the toolkit, I created an album on my personal Facebook profile and added all the photos to it. A little while later, I was “gently” asked to maybe not focus so much on infertility because it may make some people a little uncomfortable.
So after I calmly removed myself from the conversation…telling them to forget my name and blocking them is “calm”, right?!…I sat and stewed for a while.
Infertility is a disease. Just like cancer, diabetes, heart disease. Why do we welcome and encourage awareness for those things, and ask people with infertility to sit a corner and stay quiet?
When a friend is going through a divorce, what do we tell them? We tell them we’re here for them. We tell them to talk about it. We tell them it’s natural to grieve the loss of the relationship, the loss of the future. We tell them it’s not healthy to keep all those emotions bottled up. We tell them we are their friends and that’s what friends are for.
Why do I not get that same level of understanding?! And the…well, I’ve never experienced infertility and that’s why I’m uncomfortable with it…is kind of lame. I’ve never been through a divorce. I still don’t tell my friends who are going through a divorce to leave me out of those conversations. I’ve never had cancer…I still talk to my friends while they are going through chemo.
My husband lost his mother more than 20 years ago, I lost my father less than 5 years ago. Him knowing what it’s like to lose a parent didn’t make his hugs to me more comforting. It didn’t make his presence by my side more important. Just like my arms, when he lost his father a year and a half ago, weren’t a place of solace because I knew what it was like to lose a daddy. All that mattered was that we were there for one another, we were by each other’s side, when we needed support. We didn’t have to understand in order to comfort.
Because when you’re going through something difficult, all that matters is that you are surrounded by people who love you. They don’t have to know what to say, what you’re feeling, what journey lies ahead of you. They just need to support you through it.
I talk about infertility, because so many people don’t even know what it is. There’s this idea that if you want to get pregnant and you don’t get pregnant that very first month you try, it’s infertility. Or that infertility can be “fixed” by simply getting a massage to help you relax or a different kind of underwear. (By the way…don’t talk to your friends about their spouse’s underwear. You want to talk about uncomfortable.)
Not talking about it, doesn’t make it go away. It doesn’t make it less painful. It doesn’t. And while you may be more comfortable not hearing about it, someone you love is still suffering alone.
1 in 8…that’s how many people suffer through infertility. 1 in 8 have a disease that’s not contagious, but no one wants to be “around” it. Can you imagine how isolating that can be?
My life is a messy kind of happiness. It is full of loss, full of cuss words, full of hospital stays & surgeries. It is financial worries, broken plans, and plants I can’t always keep alive. It’s full of love, full of faith, full of hope. It’s fur baby snuggles through out the night, a marriage working on it’s second decade, it’s Christmas tree lights hung year round. It’s kisses followed by death threats and some times death threats followed by kisses. It’s beautifully crazy. It’s not easy, but it is amazing.
It’s not fair to ask me to share only the happy. To only share the inconsequential. If I can share when a recipe goes right, or when flowers are randomly brought home…why shouldn’t I share when I have a bad day trying to conceive a child? It’s not fair to only be a friend during the good times.
Yes, infertility can be uncomfortable for those that are blessed enough to never face it head on. But that level of comfor comes at the expense of someone you love. And being silent about infertility makes me uncomfortable. And I’m not willing to do that.
Last week was a whirlwind of issues at Casa de Mo. I was kinda puny. Extremely hopeful about this cycle. Got to spend time with the bestie. And had a LuLaRoe fundraising Pop-On on Facebook.
And it appears that we will have to do IUI with Clomid instead of IUI with injections. Thankfully, we did qualify for some help for the injections. But I still don’t think financially we can do them. We qualified for a 25% discount. That still leaves us paying about $550 for just one of the 3 medications. That’s about the cost of the IUI preceedure itself.
I hate to sound like I’m complaining…we *only* qualified for 25% off. I know there are couples out there who don’t even qualify for that. And I am beyond grateful for any help we get. I was always, actually, planning on doing IUI with Clomid…because I respond very well to Clomid. But if I’m being honest, I was hoping to qualify for the 75% off and do the injections. I know my RE prefers IUI with injections over Clomid. And it does give us the best shot at a successful cycle. So I was hoping.
I just hate how money plays such a major role in this journey. I hate that my insurance company is allowed so much power over my TTC journey. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful they cover the things they do. (I know it doesn’t sound like it, but I am.) But it’s so arbitrary to me that they will cover fertility treatments up to insemination. Like why draw a line? Fertility treatments are fertility treatments. Drawing a line in the sand and saying they’ll cover everything on this side of the line but nothing on that side…it’s a little soul crushing. This journey is isolating enough as it is. Why make me feel more like a pariah because my journey has gone to the “other side”?!
Thankfully, with some of our income tax return, donations from very supportive friends, the LLR fundraiser, and my Crocheting to pay for IUI project…we have 2 and 1/3 IUI cycles saved up. Now we just have to figure out if we start IUI next cycle or wait one more. I think hubby would prefer waiting another cycle. But I just don’t know that I can. I’ll keep y’all updated on what we…ok, I…decide. lol I really feel like we won’t wait though. Because I’m hoping to be able to have a third cycle saved up for June. And we will have to take July off because I’m our VBS Director this year. And I don’t think people will understand hubby & I having to leave to go get inseminated. I just don’t see that going over well. lmbo So, since I already know July is an off cycle…I just don’t know that I’m emotionally prepared to take another cycle off right now.
Leaving on a happy note though…I’m working on an ordered and an available to purchase blanket in my Crocheting to pay for IUI plan. I need a project bag so bad! That will be my next acquisition. Cause right now I’m carrying my yarn, hook and blanket with me every where. I’m motivated beyond belief y’all!
And autocorrect likes to mess with me…it tried to change precedent to PreSeed in a rather delicate email yesterday. lol I’m just glad I caught it. Normally I don’t until I get the reply.
(So this post might be a rambling one, that seems to have no real point. But that’s kind of the day I’m having. So, Happy Women’s Day! lol)
I know I’ve said a few times before that I am a *BIG* temp pusher when it comes to TTC. My app of choice is Fertility Friend. I’ve used several apps, but that is the only I’ve stuck with. For me, it’s the most accurate. But it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
The tracking apps can be used in several different ways. It can be a date tracker, where all you put in are the dates each month when your cycle starts. It can be a BBT tracker, where you track your basal body temperature each day to confirm ovulation. You can use them to track daily cervical position, cervical fluid/mucus, symptoms, and OPK testing to help track your fertile window. Or you can do it all. As you might guess…I do it all. (Well, except cervical position. Haven’t gotten that down.)
But, I’ve learned the more information you put into it, the more accurate it is. And the longer you use it, the more accurate it is. It learns your patterns and can help predict better based on them.
For example…if all you use it for is a date tracker, it gives you a projected fertile window & expected period start date based on what is “average” for your cycle length. Which, can be WAY off for you specifically. So, I always say to use them to their fullest. Especially if you’re using a paid version of the app.
But I have also learned that no matter how much information you put into an app…it’s still just an app. Life will always be life. It can alway surprise you.
Five of the last six cycles have been medicated. So I didn’t do OPKs during those cycles because of the scans I was having to track progress. But when we decided to go unmedicated this cycle while we worked out some things in preparation for IUI, I decided to go back to the full on crazy OPK testing lady that I use to be. Hence, the outrageously nutzo test stash pics you’ve seen.
Now, typically during an unmedicated cycle, my usual cycle length is average 32 days and I ovulate sometime between CD16 & 19. The rule of thumb on OPK testing, if I remember right, is to start testing 16 days before your period is expected. It’s another rule that’s based on dates only…so it’s based on a 14 day luteal phase being the “average”. My avareage luteal phase is 13 days. And, I have been known to have an occasional wonky cycle where I’ve ovulated on CD10 or 11. So I decided to start my OPK testing on CD5…just to be safe. And it’s not like I don’t have enough tests to cover a couple weeks worth of testing, should I need it.
So, based on what Fertility Friend knows of my cycle…after years of using it, this was my OPK Optimizer for this cycle. And it lined up pretty much with what I was also thinking my cycle would look like. But because I’ve had those crazy cycles before…
And I’m glad I did. Because my cycle appears to be going rouge.What a difference 24 hours makes. Positive OPK on CD10. Which puts me most likely ovulating some time today, CD11. So, while my cycle history suggests that I’m “Probably Not Fertile”…everything else says otherwise. Now, again life can still be a factor. I’ve had cycles where I’ve gotten a positive OPK, complete with fertile cervical mucus…and not ovulated with that surge. Sometimes I surged again within a few days. Other times, it took weeks before I surged again. So, I may not be in my fertile window after all. I won’t know until I get those beautiful crosshairs at 3DPO confirming a temp shift.
But the point I’m trying to make…in an extremely long way…is that an app, even with a lot of information, is still just an app. It’s a guesstimate. And there’s a good chance that I could have missed my fertile window if I solely relied on the suggestion it made. It’s still just one tool available. And you should take everything into consideration.
So follow your gut! If you think you need to start testing early, start testing early. If you feel like you should test until you get that confirmed temp shift…test away! This is your journey. And it is unique to you. So don’t worry about not doing it the way someone else does it. Do it the way you need to do it to feel like you’re doing it the optimal way for you. The most important thing is to make an informed decision. That way you KNOW you’re making the right decision for you.
***The OPK Optimizer is a relatively newer tool to Fertility Friend. I have a paid subscription to the app. I am not sure if that is tool strictly for the paid subscription or it’s available on the free version as well.***
It got me to thinking.
After 5 unsuccessful rounds of Clomid in a span of 6 months, my RE (reproductive endocrinologist) said we needed to move on to IUI (intrauterine insemination). IUI is where they take the sperm and insert it directly into the uterus using a catheter. You can do it with Clomid or with medication you self inject to stimulate follicle growth. Unfortunately, my insurance doesn’t cover artificial insemination of any kind…or the injections. That means, that most of the cost of IUI will be out of pocket. We are applying for a program that could help cover part of the cost of the injections. (My RE prefers IUI with injections over IUI with Clomid.) But without qualifying for the program, IUI with Clomid is our only option. And even then, we only have enough saved up to do about two rounds.
So…I decided to start making baby blankets to sell for the specific purpose of paying for IUI. Well, not just baby blankets, throws too. Maybe some hats, scarves, and fingerless gloves. But mainly baby blankets. I’ve got an amazing friend who has generously offered some of her knitted projects to sale as well.
Over the past week, I’ve been fasting. During my fast today, I made a decision. After we get our rainbow, I’m going to continue to crochet to pay for IUI. It just won’t be for my IUIs. It will be to help others pay for their IUIs. And, should I become pregnant before needing IUI…the money I’ve already made & have received as donations to help cover the cost of my fertility treatments will go to help pay for someone else’s.
If you follow me on Instagram and/or the blog’s Facebook page…you’ll be able to see the blankets (and other items) as they become available. I’m AdorkablyHappy on Instagram and the link to the Facebook page is in the right hand column of the blog. And you can message me on either account for pricing information.
I’m really hoping that this takes off. I think I might even be more excited about the future of it. Of being able to help someone else. Even if it’s just a little bit. Because it truly sucks when the cost of fertility treatments becomes the reason someone’s journey ends. So, I’m hoping that we’ll be able to help someone very soon.
As promised, here’s my review of The Stork OTC. Again, I was not paid to do this review…nor was the product given to me in order to do this review. We paid for The Stork OTC and I’m doing this review because several women in my TTC after loss group & followers on Instgram (I’m AdorkablyHappy, you can follow me by clicking on the “Instagram Love” section on the right hand side of the blog) asked me to let them know what I thought of it.
I ordered my Stork through the Walgreen’s mobile app. It was $79.99 with free shipping. (But, I did get over 10,000 points on the purchase…so yay!) And it came to just over $86 with tax. So not terribly pricey. And if you follow The Stork OTC on Instagram, you can find out when they’re having specials on the pricing.
It comes with instructions in both English and Spanish. I giggled at the, “This device is not intended for contraceptive use”. But also noticed where it said the device is non-sterile. So washing your hands is important throughout the process.
I watched the how-to video on YouTube. You’ll find it here. And then I watched it again, had hubby watch it, and then I watched it again. I also kept my phone handy so we could watch it as we were attempting to use it. There’s a lot of details to pay attention to when it comes to pulling back the plunger, push this button, then use this button to release. And since it was almost $90 and it’s a single use thing…I didn’t want to mess anything up. And it definitely is a single use kit. There is no way around it. I think I may have gone overboard in the preparation, but I tend to be a little crazy in that aspect in general.
Here’s the applicator and the Conceptacle still in the packaging. I took no pictures during use. (We stayed focused on the using it part. Not “I’m gonna review it” part. lol) Inside the Conceptacle…the condom thing on the right…is the cervical cap.
So, after reading some reviews online…I pretty much knew this was going to be the least sexiest thing you could possibly do at home. But timed intercourse rarely is.
My husband doesn’t care for condoms, as I’m assuming most men don’t. I was concerned that we wouldn’t be able to use the Conceptacle the way it was intended to be used. We discussed removing the cervical cap from the Conceptacle and simply use manual stimulation instead of natural intercourse. But we finally decided to at least attempt it. And go from there. Thankfully, natural intercousre was all that was needed.
It was clumsy putting the Conceptacle on. There is no lubricant, and while the video only mentioned not using lubricant during the application of the cervical cap, we didn’t take the risk of using PreSeed. But we finally fumbled through it. (Not sexy at all. And yet, not the least sexiest part of the experience.)
After intercourse, he needs to wash his hands, and roll the Conceptacle off…being careful to keep to cervical cap in an upright position. Taking it off was ok. Trying to get the cervical cap out, while keeping everything upright & not losing any of the swimmers…not as easy. If you’ve ever seen “Never Been Kissed”, think about the condom being applied to the banana scene. If it was someone else, it would have been comical. lol And I don’t think it will be as hard to do again. I think it was just new and different.
After getting the cervical cap on the petals properly and closing the cervical cap holder…I got ready for placement. Insertion was not bad at all. There was some pressure, a little uncomfortable. But nothing bad at all, and absolutely no pain. I will say that when we pushed the button with the two raised dots to release the plunger…the plunger released quickly and actually hit my thumb, and startled me a little. We pulled the applicator out and the removal string was visible.
You can leave the cervical cap in for 4-6 hours. We went with the full 6 hours. You can get up and go about your day. The only limitation that they tell you about, as far as activities go, you’re suppose to remove the cervical cap before having sex again. That’s kind of right up there with the whole…this product is not for contraceptive use, but I’m sure someone out there needs to be told.
I felt something the entire time I had it in though. It wasn’t uncomfortable, but it was noticeable. And after removing it, I figured out what I was feeling. It was the cervical cap holder. And that’s what the removal string is attached to. Removing was easy. You pull on the removal string and the cervical cap comes right out.
I guess it should have dawned on me that the cervical cap holder would hold the cervical cap…but, I’m slow sometimes. That also explains why it’s a single use kit.
All in all, it wasn’t bad. We fumbled through it some. But now that we are familiar with it, I really don’t think there will be any issues using it in the future. Except maybe putting the Conceptacle on. I don’t foresee that getting any easier.
I definitely recommend it, especially if you’re considering IUI. And we will definitely use it again, if this cycle is unsuccessful and we are waiting to get started with the IUI process. Just be sure to watch the video, and read the instructions.
I saw several other reviews that said to just use PreSeed and Soft Cups and save your money. And we have tried that. Even with all the fumbling and uncertainty, I still prefer The Stork OTC. I felt like it was definitely made for TTC, while using Soft Cups is a make due kinda attempt.
I hope this has been helpful. It’s my first product review. I’ll answer any question I can and welcome feedback.
To say I’m glad this week is done, is an understatement. Wednesday I got a call from my RE’s office. I was CD7 (cycle day 7), one day left of Clomid, Ovidrel trigger shot already ordered and in my refrigerator…and they tell me that my insurance coverage had changed and that I no longer have coverage for fertility treatments. It would be $200 for my appointment on Thursday, and there are no payment plans. I totally lose it. It made no sense to me. I had already seen him twice last month and started this cycle without being told any of this. AND…during the enrollment period we were told our policy had no coverage changes.
I was so blindsided. Totally broken. Not enough Xanax in my house. Because we didn’t have $200 to cover that appointment. And if I no longer had any coverage, we were absolutely done. I mean, we could keep trying on our own. But, we’ve been doing that for more than a decade with only heartache.
We talk to the insurance company, we’re told again that there was no coverage change. That they still cover everything up to the point of insemination…so no IUI, GIFT, ZIFT, or IVF coverage. But, we already knew that.
So I call my RE’s office back, become very close to the billing department manager…and finally get to keep my appointment for Thursday-covered by insurance & only having to pay my copay. Don’t know what happened…I just know that I will only speak to the billing office manager from now on when it comes to anything to do with billing. I trust no one else there anymore.
All of this came a week after we sat down with our RE and had THE discussion. You know the one where he tells you medicated cycles alone aren’t going to be enough and we need to discuss the progression of our treatments. We decided to go with one last round of Clomid and timed intercourse while we figure it out. IUI is really our only option financially. And we can only do a few rounds, and only because of our tax return…when that finally gets here.
So, here’s our plan for this cycle:We are doing Clomid, the Ovidrel trigger shot, gonna use PreSeed along with The Stork OTC, and got a box…getting more though, cause you know me and tests…of First Response Early Results. If this doesn’t work, we’ll wait until our tax return comes in and try IUI.
So, Thursday comes around and we find out that I’ve got 6…SIX…follicles that were worthy of being measured. I’m hoping that when we go back Tuesday…and only pay our copay…for our next follicle scan that at least 3 are mature. We’ll most likely trigger Tuesday as well. *fingers crossed* this works.
Then yesterday, I had my surgery follow up procedure. Last November, I had a stent placed to open up a collapsed/blocked vein that was keeping my spinal fluid from circulating properly…causing the build in my brain, which gave me the extremely rare cause of having Pseudotumor Cerebri. There is normally not a reason that doctors can pinpoint why someone develops PTC. So, just finding the blockage was a miracle in itself. The stent worked! I’m officially *cured* of PTC!
The hard part of yesterday is that I react very badly to the contrast dye used. So, I’m still in some pain and sick to my stomach. But…I don’t have PTC anymore, so I’m beyond blessed. Thank the Lord!!!
Unfortunately, the stent did not allow the CSF (cerebral spinal fluid) leak to correct itself. It was a long shot that it would, but we were hopeful. So now my pressure can become too low and cause some issues. So, I will have to have the scary ass craniotomy to fix that. But, I’m not even kinda prepared for that. lol So, we will most likely hold off for a bit on that one. Cause I’m a weany!!! No shame in admitting that either.
Keep an eye out for a review of The Stork OTC. A lot of my friends have asked me about it. So once we use it, I’ll write something up. It will be an unpaid/unsolicited review. We bought The Stork OTC and no one from the company has asked us for our opinion on it.
Ok, so since Valentine’s Day is coming up, I’ve been seeing a crap ton of articles written about…if he does this never leave him or these are the things she needs in order to feel loved.
Most them are the…if he trusts you completely, she needs to know she’s loved always, if he has nothing to hide, she needs to feel protected…kind of lists. And while I’m in no way knocking any of those articles…because they are absolutely true in every way. Sometimes, I think they don’t always give the full reality of relationships. Because the sweet, hopeless romantic stuff wears off. Not to say your relationship isn’t a fairy tale…cause I totally believe mine is! But there’s a lot more vacuuming & dusting and a lot less birds chirping & dancing to no music in a long term relationship. And while he still opens doors for me, brings me flowers, holds me when I need to be held without me asking…that’s only a small part of what makes me know I’m loved.
Saturday is the the 15th anniversary of our first (well, technically only) date. And next month we are celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary. We moved crazy fast. lol And I’ve learned that there’s a ton of stuff that happens in a relationship that you won’t find in most movies & story books.
So in that spirit…I thought I share 10 things I think proves our relationship is a keeper & if you can relate, yours is pretty awesome too! (In full disclosure, I should probably let you know that this morning was extremely stressful for me as I was trying to line up things for our current cycle of TTC…that’s a whole nother post though…so I took a Xanax and that might have influenced the idea for this post. lol However, they’re all still real!)
Ok, here we go…
1. If you can go to a sporting event and they want one team to win and you want the other team to win…meaning regardless, someone is leaving that stadium unhappy…and you can still stop to get something to eat at a restaurant on the way home and not get asked to leave-you’ve got a keeper.
2. If you go out of town with a friend and she decides she wants to go to Hooter’s and while you’re there you snap of pic of your waitress…even if it was with the Build-A-Bear you brought and made everyone take a pic with…just for your hubby-that my friends is love!
3. If you have ever had Domino’s pizza by candlelight to celebrate your anniversary and it’s not inspired by a country music song, just coincidence…and you still think it was pretty awesome-that’s an awesome relationship.
4. If he will wear the clothes you sprayed with your body spray, because he was purposely trying to irritate you and you decided to make him smell like a girl while at work, to work and not wash them first-y’all are kinda awesome.
5. If he agrees to put a FatHead of you over the bed in the master bedroom in the event of your death & his remarriage-don’t let him go!!!
6. If you have to have a procedure done and you can’t have anything to eat after midnight and until recovery is complete, and he doesn’t eat during that same time frame cause he doesn’t think it’s fair-you should never let him think he’s anything but awesome.
7. If he will go to the store and buy you “girly things” (that’s what we call feminine hygiene products in our house), pregnancy tests, make-up, or nail polish without you being there with him…and only a pic of what you need/want sent in a text-he loves you unconditionally.
8. If he uses the toilet paper you like and you hang it on the holder the way he likes-you know you’d miss him if he was gone.
9. If he still pinches your butt when you walk by even though you’ve got serious bed head going on and are in the same PJs you’ve been wearing for two days…hey, it happens-he will always love you.
10. If he’ll go with you to Build-A-Bear, even though you have no kids & you’ll go with him to the tool section of any department or home improvement store…even though you both know that you’d rather be hanging out with his ex and he’d rather be hanging out with your ex, but still you do it cause you vowed “for better or for worse”-then you’re one of the luckiest people on Earth.
The point is, all the stuff in the beginning is wonderful. And he will always want to see you smile. Just like you will always want him to know that no one will or could ever love, appreciate, and desire him more than you do. But the reality is that there will always be dishes to do, a load of laundry piled up waiting to be washed, bills that have to be paid. There’s gonna be stomach viruses that in NO way could ever be considered sexy. There are going to be days when you want to beat him to death with a spaghetti spoon and he’s going to want to trip you when you’re walking past him…it’s a major relationship win when you both manage to push past those thoughts and don’t plan on what you’re gonna tell a jury of your peers. He will never understand why you need another pair of shoes (or leggings, or another purse) and you will never understand why he needs yet another wrench set…but, you’ll still find yourself getting a new set for him for his birthday and he’ll hear himself saying, “you should buy them”.
Life is messy, it’s crazy, it’s a road trip without directions. And as long as your partner is there to hold your hand & laugh along the way…you’re gonna make it through. So don’t worry if your relationship doesn’t always line up with the “perfect relationships do this/ways to tell you’ll last/what happy couples do” kind of articles. Don’t worry if it doesn’t seem like Disney will ever knock on your door trying to buy the rights to your love story. Cause only you know what’s perfect for you. And it’s your happily ever after!
*bonus* If you can agree on a place to eat in less than 10 minutes-your relationship is meant to last. (It’s only happened like twice, but man was it amazing!!!)