Infertility Updates

Welcome to this smorgasbord of a blog post. A little bit of this, a little bit of that. In today’s post, I share my thoughts about why infertility is great, a few updates about our second IVF cycle, and a creative introduction to who I am. Grab a plate and fill it with a little bit of this unicorn goodness!

There really are some great perks to being infertile. Really!

I have become my most powerful advocate. To insurance companies. To pharmacies. To my fertility clinic. I am woman, hear me roar.

Sex is better. When you’re trying to get pregnant, there is so much pressure tied to sex. It becomes this perfectly-timed, strategically-calculated maneuver with one mission and one mission only. Something that has to be done at this exact moment in order to maximize chances. You have to leave to go catch a movie with your buddy? Not yet. I’m OVULATING! Now, there’s no pressure to try to get pregnant and there’s no pressure to avoid getting pregnant. Sex can just be for sex’s sake.

Nothing at the doctor’s office scares me anymore. After a dozen dates with a vaginal ultrasound probe, countless skin-puncturing blood draws, and a surgery where they had to go through my belly button (through my belly button!) to untwist my ovary, nothing, and I mean nothing, intimidates me about going to the doctor.

I am even more prepared for pregnancy and motherhood than the average fertile woman. I’m already making sacrifices for my future child (e.g., 40+ injections into my stomach, draining our savings account for IVF instead of going on a Mexican getaway). I’m already getting used to my body changing week-to-week (oh hello, IVF bloat!). Infertility is simply motherhood training in advance. How lucky am I?

And now, with that optimism in our hearts, it’s time for some fertility updates:

10/21/18: I was supposed to take my first birth control pill to start prepping for my stimulation cycle last night.

Welp, I completely forgot to go pick up the birth control at the pharmacy before I went out with friends for the evening. I got back home at 10:30 PM, freaked out because I forgot to get the prescription, calmed down because I remembered I had kept the leftover pills from our first IVF cycle, frantically searched downstairs for the pills, faintly remembered that I had thrown them away, returned upstairs to my bed where I proceeded to meltdown-sob because I "can't handle this," and I "screwed everything up." Cory snuggled me and validated my feelings (he really is the best) until I fell asleep. In the morning, everything was better, as it usually always is.

In the calm-before-the-IVF-storm, we got outside and played a little tennis!

In the calm-before-the-IVF-storm, we got outside and played a little tennis!

There’s something about cognitive fatigue and darkness at nighttime that makes the world feel impossible. My old counselor used to tell me to imagine that you're canoeing down a river during the day. You wouldn't dare continue down the river at night in the dark. Just like you would do if you were canoeing, you have pause your journey and set up camp at night. Build a warm, cozy fire. Roast marshmallows. Wrap up in a blanket. Don't think about the river. Just relax by the glow of the fire. Then take on that river in the morning with light to guide you. As you can imagine, I felt much better the next day when I woke up with a fully recharged brain. I took my birth control pill the next evening and continued down the river.

(We continued down the river by carving pumpkins! I carved a unicorn because, well, duh. Cory carved a poop emoji because, well, poop.)

10/26/18: In the span of two days, I have been called by five specialty pharmacies, all stating that they have received my prescription order and they’re trying to process it.

How did FIVE specialty pharmacies all receive my order? Who sent it to them? How did they get my number? Why doesn’t anyone know what is going on? I have no answers, but I just go with it (because that’s what you just have to do in IVF land). As I’ve spoken with the myriad of customer service agents, I have been told by three of the five pharmacies that my insurance will not allow my prescriptions to be filled by them. As I type this, I am currently on hold with pharmacy number five, trying to get to the bottom of this prescription wormhole.

10/29/18: I call one of the pharmacies at 6:30 AM before work to get an update on my medications.

I learn that because several pharmacies are trying to fill this one order, none of the prescriptions are able to be processed. Uh...what? I bounce back-and-forth between pharmacies, memorizing 1-800 numbers, trying to get some answers. You’d think that paying over $2,000 out-of-pocket for IVF medications would buy you better customer service, right? Wrong. (Sorry, Grumpy Train just pulled into the station, apparently.)  My frustrations were validated when I read an email from my IVF nurse over my lunch break: “This is some of the craziest run-around I have ever seen AND the second time around! This is DEFINITELY NOT normal! The weird back and forth with literally almost ALL of the specialty pharmacies just doesn’t happen!” At least I’m not being a total cry baby.

I took my 9th birth control pill and my ten thousandth fertility supplement this evening. I continue taking birth control pills for a few more days to help time the start of our second IVF cycle, which is scheduled to start November 5 with stimulation injections starting November 7. Send us all the positive egg Juju over the next few weeks! Speaking of positive egg Juju - thank you to the 68 donors who have donated over $9,000 to our IVF fundraising campaign over the past couple of weeks.

(A non-IVF update: Cory turned 37! Here are some pictures of us celebrating with his parents.)

Last update: a month or so ago, Fertility Smarts asked me if I would be a featured blogger on their website.

(I said, “Ummm, of course!”) Fertility Smarts is an evidence-based website about fertility that presents information in a down-to-earth, digestible way. Very needed and pretty awesome! I was then asked to be highlighted as a “blogger of the month” in December. I’m really excited to share my story and the Embrace Your Unicorn Mission with a wider audience! As the blogger of the month, I will respond to several questions about me and my blog. I’m in the process of preparing these answers and wanted to share one with you before I share an IVF update!

This is my response for, “Tell us about yourself (career, hobbies, etc.).” Hopefully it’ll help you get to know me even better than you do now!

Hi! I’m Kristen, and I’d like to invite you into my morning routine. My 5 AM to 9 AM, Monday through Friday, to give you a sense of who I am and what I do. I think you can get a good sense of a person through how she starts her day. A wise person once said, “Study a person’s routine, and you’ll study her soul.” (A wise person never said that, unless you consider me wise, and I just said that.)

My morning starts with Alexa, my new, electronic nightstand companion. I don’t typically invite acquaintances into my bedroom after just meeting, but Alexa promised me a more mindful bedtime and waketime (not a real word, but really should be, right?). I was ready to set some firm boundaries with my iPhone: sorry, Mr. iPhone, you are no longer allowed in the bedroom. No more mindless Instagramming or Facebooking at 10:30 PM, scouring for red-flag notifications and comments on my recent posts, as I wait for my eyelids to grow heavy and my brain to turn off. (I care quite a bit about what people think of me. Too much. I’m working on it.) No more email-checking first thing in the morning, checking for responses from my blog’s guest writers. (I’m an anxious perfectionist. Hypervigilant. I’m working on this too.) Goodbye anxiety-provoking screen time. Hello soothing darkness of my smart-phone-free bedroom.

Alexa wakes me up to John Mayer or Shawn Colvin radio, and I awkwardly attempt to turn off the music by whispering ever-so-quietly (but loud enough for my alarm-clock-robot-lady to hear), “Alexa, turn off the alarm.” She usually doesn’t hear me, and I end up repeating the command two or three more times, increasingly louder and louder, until she finally has heard me (and so has my husband. Sorry, Cory!).

I make my way downstairs to the kitchen, grab a cup of coffee, and then descend even further to our wood-paneled basement “office.” Here, I am swept up in an all-consuming cloud of magical dust and am transported to Embrace Your Unicorn land. I work on an upcoming blog post. I respond to emails. And before I know it, an hour has passed and I have to pause my work and head upstairs to get ready for my full-time job.

Upstairs, I turn on an episode of Food Psych, my favorite anti-diet podcast and jump in the shower. After getting ready as fast as I can (I’ve recently reduced my morning primp session time from one hour to 30 minutes in attempt to screw societal beauty standards), I head to my day job. For most of my work week, you can find me therapizing as a speech language pathologist at a rehabilitation hospital for adults recovering from brain injuries. I help people improve their communication, memory, reasoning skills, and swallowing abilities. Pretty cool, huh?!

Does my morning routine give you a sense of the person I am? I hope so! If you’re still not quite sure who I am, here are a few simple supplemental statements:

  • My name is Kristen (“Hi!”)

  • I am 32-years-old.

  • I live in Colorado (native!).

  • I’m married to my fantastically creative and intuitive husband, Cory.

  • I love to lose myself in writing, play board games with my family, find inspiration in music/podcasts, splash watercolors on a blank canvas, learn new words in Spanish, play little ditties on my flute/clarinet, and go on mindful walks.

  • I live for connecting with people. At work, through my blog, at the grocery store. Humans feed my soul (but not in a cannibalistic way, don’t worry).

  • I’m learning to embrace my infertility diagnoses, disordered eating/exercise recovery, anxiety, perfectionism, and comparing myself to others.

Nice to meet you! Now I want to learn more about YOU!

What’s your morning routine like? What are a few bullet pointed statements that define you?

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Follow the Unicorn Mission!