Wisehubby and I had been TTC for a while and, on a hunch, discovered his severe male factor infertility--basically, he has an army of mutant sperm. I'm also mutant; I have a clotting disorder: Factor V. We were on the IVF with ICSI track, and I gave birth to a beautiful boy after IVF #2. We've tried varicocele repair, too--ugh. Our frozen embyro transfer ended in miscarriage at 9 weeks 1 day. We don't know where the quest will take us from here.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Transfer T minus 1 hr. 40 minutes

My RE should transfer two embryos into my womb in less than two hours. How are we coping with this? I am grading papers as I realize that the mountain of papers that I am buried under won't get better if I don't tackle it. It will be harder to tackle it in two hours when I am on bed rest.

Wisehubby is stomping around the house looking for his portable CD player from 1997. I asked if he had headphone splitters so that we could listen to an audiobook together while in recovery this afternoon, but his stress has taken this to a new level. Poor guy! He's just so excited that tonight there will be five of us in bed--Wisehubby, Wiselady, Wisedoggie, and two embryo-sized Wisebabies!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

IVF Update and Baby Names

1 Samuel 1:20--So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel,[b] saying, “Because I asked the LORD for him.”

Wisehubby and I were driven to distraction this morning waiting for our update phone call from the endocrinology lab. I wasn't the world's best teacher today; I didn't feel well and my mind was preoccupied. If I worked a job that didn't require elaborate sub plans and an abandonment of 11-14 year old students to the hands of often incompetent subs, I would have stayed home, curled in the fetal position.

We did get the call right at my lunch time. They retrieved thirty-three eggs yesterday and injected sperm into twenty-five of them. Fifteen beautiful embryo Wisebabies were growing in the lab, as of this morning. We'll know more about our count on Saturday. It will probably go down again.

With our transfer on Monday, Wisehubby and I are really feeling positive about this IVF experience. For the first time in a year, we feel like we have reason to hope.

On Tuesday, we chose to share our struggles with our pastor, and he directed me to the story of Hannah. I was touched by her willingness to give her unborn children up to God; it's a feeling that I've had since we've started trying. Like Hannah, I have dropped to my knees in prayer in the last year, asking for my heart's desire, children, in exchange for raising a family dedicated to God's good work.

For a long time, Wisehubby and I have know what we would name our first son and our first three daughters--Wisehubby wants a gaggle of daddy's girls! All of those names are meaningful, beautiful, and old fashioned, my top criteria. With the distinct possibility of twins on our horizon, I have been wracking my brain for a boys name that meets those criteria and hasn't been given to one of my eight uncles or thirteen male cousins. With our new found sense of hope and the inspiration of God's word, we've settled on Samuel as our second boy's name.

Why? Because we've asked the Lord for these Wisebabies growing a few miles away from us, and we pray that He's been listening.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I'm done with a major step of our IVF process. This morning, over 33 eggs were retrieved and are in the process of being fertilized in the lab. Tomorrow, we'll hear word about how many embyros are growing under the watchful eye of the lab. God willing, there will be plenty, and we'll have a day 5 transfer on Monday. It's a waiting game.

I feel great. I have already had apple sauce and a big bowl of broth and egg noodles. I'm going to use today to milk all of the care out of Wisehubby as I can, though. :-)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Calm Before the Surgery

Tomorrow is my egg retrieval. I'm a little nervous, but I'm actually looking forward to a day of with Wisehubby where I can guilt him out of any form of work. We've not watched much of our Monday or Tuesday night TV, so it should be a pretty good little afternoon.

I've had nasal surgery, orthoscopic knee surgery, a patellar realignment, and my wisdom teeth removed so far. This will be my fifth time under anesthesia in my life. It will be interesting walking away in what should be equal to less discomfort than walking in. I am sure glad that I won't leave on crutches.

I'm mostly worried that we'll forget a consent form or not be able to pay. After all, this is the first surgery that I am responsible for financially.

I couldn't get to sleep at all last night, so I hope that tonight is better. Regardless, I'm going to wake up tomorrow morning, shower, and head to the RE's with anxious, hopeful anticipation of the children who we hope IVF will bring into our lives.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Male Factor Infertility

With our egg retrieval scheduled for Wednesday, I've thought a lot over the last few days about our infertility. It's male factor, which is a blessing and a curse.

What does our male factor infertility look like? 
Well, Wisehubby has the double whammy of hormonal imbalance and varicocele veins.

What exactly does all of that mean? How is that a curse? 
The hormones lower his count and motility. These things are treatable in the short term with hormone therapy using Tamoxifen to lower estrogen production. Unfortunately, this is not a great long term solution as fertility treatment is not covered by insurance. Furthermore, the hormone treatments have increased how much sperm he produces and how well it swims, but we have another problem.

Wisehubby's varicocele veins super-heat his man factory. This is what gives him 0% normal morphology, our real problem. Abnormal morphology means that the sperm is misshapen and cannot penetrate the egg. Corrective surgery has only been touted as a serious option by one of three consulted medical professionals--of course, that professional was the doctor trying to sell Wisehubby the surgery. Female-centered fertility treatments are also limited for couples with such poor morphology. Cheaper alternatives like IUI and drug therapy do not address the core issue: how do you get the misshapen sperm into an egg?

Do I consider myself an infertile?
Yes. God blessed me with a sound reproductive system, but I am also bound in Christian marriage to Wisehubby. I have been given just this one person to build a family with, and we are determined to be parents. For as long as we both can remember, having a stable, happy family has been our number one goal in life. His infertility is my infertility. His sorrow is my sorrow. If I have to give myself shots everyday for weeks and undergo two separate surgeries to conceive his children, then my pain is his pain.

So, what's the blessing part of all this? 
That all sounded pretty terrible, huh? Well, male factor infertility has some of the highest success rates for IVF, especially with ICSI, a technique that involves injecting good sperm into eggs in order to bypass the morphology problems.

My uterus is young and healthy, and my ovaries have been overachieving by everyone's standards throughout this IVF cycle. My womb is going to be a happy healthy home to our embie babies, and I have a lower chance of miscarriage than if I had one or more of the issues that plague so many infertile women.

Plus, I'll never have to take birth control again. Since I hated what the hormones did to my body and libido, that is wonderful news.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

High pain threshold

I've felt a little fatigued and had a few headaches since we started our IVF cycle, but I'm not entirely sold that it is the injected medicines.

Mind you, I don't particularly enjoy shooting myself up. Wisehubby has been pushing the plunger for the last couple of days to help him get up the courage to stick me. He accidentally made me bleed two nights ago by pulling the needle out crooked.

The Lupron burns when it goes in. The Follistim has given me gas--or has it been my fall diet of chili and jumbo?--and a hyper awareness of the presence of my ovaries.

I'm pretty sure that the fatigue and headaches are still within the realm of normality. I was at the ENT about potential sleep apnea because of my giant tonsils and fatigue before all of this started up. I don't have sleep apnea, so my ENT pointed out that it is probably just my idiosyncratic need for 8-9 hours of sleep at night. Head aches have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I get sinus headaches from my chronic rhinitis. I also grind my teeth pretty wildly at night, and that isn't at all helpful. I have woken up with  a headache about 2/3 days for my entire adult life.

What has changed is my ability to take my favorite regime of OTC meds. I know that many of you have heard me harp on this, but giving up Pregnancy Class C drugs has been a battle for me. All that is left in my arsenal is Zyrtec, my antihistamine. I've given up Sudafed, my decongestant; Mucinex, which loosens my mucus; and Ibuprofen, which reduces swelling and kills pain.

This has all been a challenge, but I haven't felt too bad. Wisehubby gave me a piggy back ride to cheer me up the other night. At Walmart last night, I even ran when I returned my shopping cart because it was cold. I'm feeling fairly normal, despite the fact I can feel my ovaries.

My high pain threshold has probably come from years of frequent dislocations of my kneecaps and joint pain. After you knee cap ends up in your thigh, you take uterine cramps like a champ. Another explanation may be that our infertility is 100% male factor. I'm very blessed to be doing this without endo or PCOS like so many of my infertile Tweeps.

I guess that I will have to wait and see before claiming that I am above all of the pain that most women claim during their IVF cycles. Until then, wish me luck!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Stir (stim?) Crazy

Today, I organized for six straight hours leading up to my first stim injection--stim meds are what cause you to grow lots of follicles for egg retrieval (ER). I thought that the anticipation of my first injection ever would be the worst, but I now realize that each milestone will bring on new levels of anxiety.

This morning at church was stewardship Sunday--you know, the one where the pastor tries to guilt you into tithing. About halfway through the sermon about paying unto Caesar what is Caesar's, I started to feel panicky. Oh my bills! I haven't even begun to pay for IVF, and the front corner of our house is sinking because the clay soils of North Texas were not meant for home foundations.

One of the results of our trials in the last six months has been cutting off our regular offering at church. We've given all we can for the time being. We've got to stay solvent in order to pay for our mortgage, Wisehubby's graduate school because we didn't qualify for financial aid, our car, our new electrical panel, our foundation, and IVF. I am normally a compulsive charitable giver, but times have been a little tough for us Wisepeople lately.

Anyway, those concerns launched me into a stir crazy mood that lasted all day. I cried on the way to Sunday family lunch when Wisehubby suggested we sell our tickets to the OU-Texas A&M game to help off-set the cost of foundation repairs. My Wiseparents are normally great lunch time company, but there was a distinct down vibe today.

Then I got home, and I let my stir crazy mood out to play. I cleaned the kitchen, folded the laundry, put away the laundry, organized our mail, shredded documents, organized our medical bills and other papers, and generally put my life in order. I'm not one for organizing anything, so this was a majorly weird string of events.

So, I'm stimming in earnest, and I think that the anticipation of moving forward with IVF is the root cause of my sudden panic today. Luckily, I've worked through the problem that triggered my panic in the first place.

I think that I'm going to adopt the attitude that I'm just participating in a different type of financial stewardship. Instead of giving a large percentage of my paltry teacher's salary to the church, I'm giving it to the Quest for Wisebaby. When we've got a Wisebaby (or two?), we'll give him or her to God's service. You can't give a better gift than that!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

On coming out

If infertility has rocked your world and kept your dreams from happening, then you've had an experience similar to what I had on Friday at lunch.

I'm sitting in the teachers' lounge eating lunch with my co-worker friend who is pregnant. Another co-worker, who is eating lunch with us for the first time in over a month, is talking about how she doesn't want to get pregnant until she can convince her husband to move back to Kentucky to be near her family--as if she is guaranteed the luxury of deciding when and where and how she can conveniently conceive a child. Then, my friend asks, "So when are you and Wisehubby going to try? You seem so baby happy whenever you're around them."


"Well, it is really between me and the guy upstairs," I say; it's my typical circumlocution. I'm not entirely pleased with the evasion tactic, but I decide that I don't really feel talking about it with the other co-worker present. Plus, Wisehubby is decidely more private than I am, and he works at the same middle school.

Then, it dawns on me that my friend thought I meant Wisehubby when I meant God as "the guy upstairs." After all, Wisehubby was literally teaching one flight of stairs above the teachers' lounge.

I'm forced to reevaluate my response and decide to go for a more direct response. "Well, we had a miscarriage last fall, and we haven't had any luck since."

My friend was polite and said that she was sorry she hadn't known. She talked about how a friend had lost her baby, and that it was very hard. I could almost see her regretting every conversation she's ever had about being pregnant with me.

I didn't come out to her to make her feel bad. I didn't come out to her to make her more sensitive. I came out to her because I just can't tell lies about my hopes and dreams.

I'm not going to pretend that Wisehubby and I haven't been praying for, trying for, dreaming of a baby for a while now. I'm not going to pretend that it doesn't break my heart watching my gentle, kind, loving husband hold other people's babies or play with other people's children with the focus and care that I know he'll give to our Wisebabies someday.

Coming out isn't the easy thing to do; it is the honest thing.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Out of control: On home repairs, flossing, manicures, and infertility

Wisehubby and I keep ourselves pretty busy.

We're both in graduate school and teach middle school full time. We play in our church's orchestra and volunteer for a local grief support group for children. We have two special needs dogs that require specific behavior plans to keep them from aggressive tendencies; one even takes thyroid medicine. We take our job as Godparents to our niece very seriously, and she lives an hour away on the other side of the Metroplex. We are very close to our families, and maintain close friendships and a healthy social calendar.

As you can see, our plates were quite full before we started living daily with "ghosts of unconceived babies."

My OB, the female Dr. B, broke the bad news of Wisehubby's male factor infertility to us in June. Since then, we've struggled to feel in control of our lives.

Now, in our defense, we've had a string of bad breaks on the home repair front. First, our front yard was flooding, and we had to replace a bit of piping. As it turns out, the clay soil crushed our main waterline.

Then, moisture got into our electric cook top and blew the breaker to the entire house. We had to replace our entire electrical panel. In case you were wondering, that is a very pricey home repair.

This was sandwiched by our pool pump breaking, turning our backyard oasis into a swamp. This was our cheapest repair, but also our most time consuming, as Wisehubby did it himself. To complicate it, the local pool supplier had a warehouse fire, and it took two weeks to track down the correct starter to replace our broken one.

Finally, Wisehubby started to notice the jamming doors and cracking walls in one corner of our house. At first, I thought that he was allowing his fears of infertility to manifest themselves in phantom house sinking. Then, he showed me a crack that ran horizontally away from a closet door frame for a foot and a half. I was a believer. Today, we found out that we'll need 10 steel piers to lift the northeast corner of our house the 2.5 inches it has sunk since we bought it in 2008.

Today is also the day before we start stimming in earnest. Tomorrow, I will start injecting myself with hormones that stimulate my ovaries in rather unnatural ways. Tomorrow, I get my October pay check. This is the paycheck that we will use to pay for our IVF cycle in cash.

So, we've had a lot going on in our lives that has made things feel out of control. The night when I blew the power out for our entire house, I bawled for two hours on the phone to Wisesister about how awful and out of control and disappointing my life was. It's been a rough year since we miscarried our first Wisebaby.

What does all of this have to do with flossing and manicures? I'm an easily distracted person, and I've never been one for habits of any sort--well, discounting my Facebook and Diet Coke addictions.

However, since finding out about Wisehubby's infertility, I've started trying to control my life when I can. So, I've started painting my nails to make them look decent, and then removing the polish before I look like a moron--something I've struggled with in the past. I've also started flossing. My dentist will be so proud! As it turns out, flossing is pretty satisfying, and I can minimally guarantee good gum health on my horizon.

This has all made starting IVF both exciting and peaceful. We've pretty much bled ourselves dry financially between our infertility and our house, but we're starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I know that a thousand things could go wrong that I haven't anticipated, but I am not going to let that pessimistic outlook control me. After all, I learned to floss, didn't I?

Counting my blessings

I'm on the brink of starting injections of Follistim that will stimulate my ovaries to grow follicles for retrieval. IVF is about to get very real, and there is a chance that I'm about to go out of my mind from the hormones in the meds. Just in case, I am going to write about counting my blessings before it it's too late.

Wisemom had me over for a final glass of wine and a long talk a few weeks ago before I started my meds cycle. She presented me with a little purse-sized notebook and pen in a handy carrying bag. Inside was a lovely letter asking me to count my blessings during the trying times that were before me. She started each page of the notebook off with a way in which I had blessed her life. I bawled like a baby, and it was one of the happiest moments that I've had in a long time. Wisemom said that I could lean on her words when I was tired and crabby, even if I couldn't think of blessings of my own.

I've tried to add at least one blessing each day. Today, I even sat down and listed my closest friends and the ways that they have enriched my life. One girlfriend, in particular, made a point of asking me if I was doing ok yesterday; she had noticed that I had been blue the last several times she had seen me. It surprised me pleasantly that she cared enough to notice that, especially since I try very hard to put on a happy face.

Anyway, I write this to encourage anyone else who is struggling with infertility or other disappointments to try to do the same. The blessings don't cancel out my problems and struggles. Counting them just makes it a little bit easier to see beyond my uterus.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Things I thought I'd never do...

Today, I was filling in my dear mother-in-law about our IVF cycle. She's been super supportive, and has shared with me her struggles with a tubular pregnancy and TTC Wisehubby and his baby sister. I was telling her about the meds when my dear father-in-law came in. I kept talking because I feel comfortable with them, and it is such an important part of my coping process to talk about what I am going through with multiple people--it helps me unload my stress.

"I couldn't do it," he says in reference to self-administering shots.

I replied something along the lines of, "It's really not too bad," but I wish that I had said this:

There are a lot of things in my life I thought I couldn't or wouldn't do--some of them insignificant and some of them terrifying. I've ended up doing a lot of them anyway.

When I was a kid, I thought that I couldn't ride a roller coaster that went upside down. Wisemom drug me onto the Shockwave when I was in the sixth grade; she didn't want to be stuck constantly waiting at the bottom of the ride with me. I cried--nay--I wailed all of the way up the climb hill and down the first drop. I started laughing in an uncontrollable giddy frenzy part way through the first loop. Wow, it was actually fun to ride these roller coasters that had scared the tar out of me. Now, I drag Wisehubby on roller coasters that have him using words that are normally not in his vocabulary. The new Texas Giant caused him to attempt to become one with his seat with the death grip to end all death grips.

I write about this not to compare shots to roller coasters. No, I don't particularly enjoy giving myself the shots that I thought I couldn't give myself when I used to watch my diabetic grandfather stick himself on a regular basis.

Life is the roller coaster in this clumsily drawn metaphor--what can I say? The IVF meds make me sleepy. There are thrilling ups and terrifying downs. Sometimes, your world will go topsy-turvy. In the end, the attitude that you have about it will determine your ability to see the pleasure in your life.

Hopefully, when the loops are thrown in your way, you have a supporter like Wisemom forcing you to keep going and a partner like Wisehubby riding next to you, for better or for worse.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Darkest Day

My fear of infertility didn't rear its ugly head until last November when I got pregnant--Pregnant you say? Oh, then why the blog Wise Lady? Just wait...

Anyway, I had been peeing on those early pregnancy sticks for six months, each time they had turned into one pink line, not two. I felt a little sad each time, but, hey, there is always next month.

Then, finally, it turned into two beautiful, faint pink lines. Pregnant! Yippee! I gleefully told my parents and called my sister. I cut back on my caffeine and gloated.

Nine days later, I started to feel like I was cramping. I freaked and called my mom on my way home from my night grad class. I stopped on my way home and took a pregnancy test at a restaurant. It was still positive.

I woke up bleeding the next morning. I was terrified. Wisehubby and I work at the same public school, so he put in for my sub and called my mom and went to work.  It's a challenge to take off at the same time without arousing suspicion. Plus, we were only three days out from Thanksgiving Break, so we couldn't take off on Friday without providing documentation, lest we get our pay docked.

I called my OB/GYN's office no less than five times trying to get an appointment. I took a pregnancy test and saw that the pink line had begun to fade. I cried.

Mid-morning, I was squeezed into my doctor's schedule. I found out that I was indeed miscarrying our first Wisebaby. My OB/GYN patted me on my knee and comforted me with the idea that this meant we could get pregnant--little did she know that this was probably our only natural pregnancy, our one in a thousand chance.

I went home and watched the entire mini-series Pillars of the Earth in a daze. Wisehubby rushed home, and I gave him the grim news.

The next morning, still in shock, I got up, put on my school t-shirt, and taught middle school all day long. I know I could have, and should have, taken the remainder of the week off, but then I would have had to have explained myself. Besides, what would I have done all day alone and miserable at home?

It all makes me wonder how many of my teachers taught me while slowly losing the life they had grown to love in such a short period of time. How many of my colleagues have been through the same experience?

That was our darkest day. Yes, we've had some bad days since then, but losing a baby, even one just a few weeks in the making, breaks your heart in two.

Wisehubby, the needle-phob, part one

Wisehubby is a bit of a needle phob. He shudders at the mention of shots. He will man up and get them, but he's not going to like it.  Wisehubby is also the most gentle man on earth. When we have Wisebaby, he'll be the person to refuse to pull through tangles.

These things being said, Wisehubby has the unfortunate job of giving me progesterone shots here in a few weeks after my transfer. These are the big, scary needles that must be plunged forcefully into my tokus. I have this image in my mind of him tentatively trying to poke the needle in.

What's my plan, Stan? Well, this week I am making Wisehubby watch me give myself shots. This way he can see that I'm not scared of the needles. Next week, I'm going to make him give me a couple of the baby belly shots of Lupron. The needle is smaller and the target is softer, so hopefully that will help him get over his fears. If that doesn't work, I guess that is what Wisemom is for.  :-)

Sunday, October 2, 2011


I made it into some sort of online newsletter that collects Tweets and blogs about #IVF! WOW!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Cheerful Griever

11 years ago, I lost WiseBrother in to a sudden and senseless death. I struggled during my formative years to overcome the crippling grief that I was living with, but I did learn at an early age what my grieving style is. I like to think of myself as the cheerful griever.

I'm a firm believer in mind over matter. If you have an intentionally positive attitude about things, you can generally enjoy life. Life--you see--is a series of miserable problems linked together by brief moments of peace, so it is important to cling to the good stuff in order to avoid crippling depression.

Mind you, I've had a long streak of miserable problems. In 1999, my WisePapa, the grandfather who watched me everyday after school, died. 9 months later, in 2000, WiseBrother managed to take his own life--whether he meant to or not, we'll sadly never know. In 2003, WiseMom was diagnosed with kidney cancer during my first semester of college. In 2007, WiseMom was diagnosed with breast cancer during my last semester of college. In 2010, Wisehubby and I got pregnant and rejoiced for 9 glorious days. Then, I miscarried our first Wisebaby at week 6. In 2011, we discovered--after dogging our OB/GYN for answers--that Wisehubby and I weren't getting pregnant because he suffers from several male factor infertility. Oh, yeah, please throw into that mix severe knee cap dislocations and surgeries in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2011.

Sometimes, it has been trying to stay cheerful. Sometimes, I've stayed cheerful in an artificial way that has hurt myself because of its dishonesty. I try my best to only let positive things exit my mouth about my life, because speaking something makes it so much more real. When asked, "how are you?", I generally answer using the following scale of answers: I'm alive; I'm fine; I'm ok; I'm alright; I'm good; I'm great; and I'm pumped.

If you ever hear from me "I'm alive" or "I'm fine", you should probably take some time to talk to me. If the best thing that I can say about my life is that I am alive, you can bet that I'm teetering on the brink of implosion, If the best thing that I can say about my life is fine, then I am lying to you in a major way. My life isn't fine; it feels out of control.

I'm the cheerful griever, which makes me more socially palatable. Unfortunately, it also makes mornings like this morning so much harder for my friends and family. This morning, there were thirty minutes in which I struggled to pretend. I wanted to shout at the crowd assembled about the disappointments of my life. I wanted to vent and rant and gnash my teeth. I wanted to be alone. I wanted to crawl into a corner and leave life to other people.

My friends didn't get it. They are used to cheerful Wiselady. They don't know how to react to the Wiselady that has nothing to say. Wiselady is usually so full of words. I can't even face them when I feel like that. They just let me sit by myself this morning; I don't even know if I would have liked company.

I write this to say this: Being a cheerful griever has ups and downs. You can generally improve your mood by trying to see the good in a situation. However, you're not a superhero, so you're bound to have bouts of uncontrollable depression. Unfortunately, the cheerful griever may not find the support she needs when she decides to have a melt-down--unless, of course, she calls Wisesister, and then she's got a listening ear who understands exactly what it is like to grieve when no one knows what to do.