No, I'm not writing about Mr. I-can't-decide-whether-to-stay-or-go Brett Favre.
I'm writing about IUI attempt #4, which took place this morning.
As much as I've anticipated getting back on track with our IUI treatments since the miscarriage in May, I've got to admit that I was feeling really nervous this morning. All morning. And when I arrived at the doctors' office, my anxiety ratcheted up a bit more, which surprised me.
In retrospect, I think it was because today was the first time I've been back in their office since the day I found out my April pregnancy had stopped. Obviously, that was one of the worst days of my life, so I think it's only natural that I'd associate physically being in that environment with bad feelings and anxiety. Still, that obviously doesn't help a gal relax for the impending procedure when she's feeling phantom stress from the last time she was there.
To add to the situation, I had Super Boy with me. I'd forgotten to call around yesterday to see if one of my friends could watch him for 45 minutes for me, so he had to come along. Thankfully he's old enough to hang out in the waiting room and keep himself entertained, and the girls in the reception area were happy to keep an eye on him and chat with him, so I wasn't too worried about that. Still, he doesn't entirely get what goes on there, and given the nature of my doctors' specialty, the office doesn't have a big kid-friendly waiting room with toys or anything like that. As I sat there waiting to be called back, it also occurred to me that his mere presence there might bother someone else coming in for fertility treatment who has not been blessed with a child yet. While there was nothing I could do about it at that point, I was just grateful that he wasn't an infant or toddler still (because I know how hard that is for me to be around babies and toddlers after all this, and I have a child already), and that things were pretty slow while we were there and we only encountered one other patient.
** LITTLE SIDE NOTE **
As I have mentioned before, we've been pretty open with Super Boy about our desire to have another baby, and about the fact that we're having trouble getting pregnant and are seeing a special doctor and having some special procedures to help us. He knows some of what is going on, but obviously not all of it, and we don't know how much he really understands of what we have told him. He's a very smart kid, and inquisitive, so he asks a lot of questions, and we can only hope we're answering them in a way that he can make sense of.
For instance, he gets that in order to make a baby, there has to be a sperm and an egg, but he's not real clear on how they come together under normal circumstances. With our IUI, we've told him that the doctors have to get the sperm from daddy and then inject it into my uterus, where my eggs are, so that they can get together and form a baby. I also have a book called "From Conception to Birth", which Super Boy and I have looked through and talked about a little, so he's seen those awesome pictures of sperm penetrating egg, etc.
Anyway, when I told him he had to go to the doctor with me this morning, he asked what for. I told him that this is the baby doctor, and he asked, "Are we going to see a baby in your tummy?" I told him, no, that we're still trying to get another baby in my tummy, and that's what we were doing today.
He knew that Super Man had his appointment earlier (Super Man left the house later than usual this morning to make his appointment at the doctor's office, and when Super Boy asked why, we told him), and in his head, Daddy's appointment involved needles, which he knows Daddy doesn't like! So he said, "I bet Dad didn't like having to get poked with a needle to get the sperm out!"
I chuckled and said, "Well, actually they don't need to use needles to get the sperm, baby, so I think Daddy was probably okay."
He gave me a puzzled look and said, "If they don't use needles, then how do they get it?"
I told him I'd explain that later on. Heaven help me!
Of course, as we were driving to the clinic and I was thinking about Super Boy asking me that question, I realized that at some point we are going to have to explain how babies are USUALLY made (i.e. sex) since the poor kid probably thinks that this craziness is just how it's done, with all these doctor appointments and medications and sperm extractions and sperm injections!
To feel it out a little, I just said, "Baby, I know that Mom & Dad have had to do a bunch of crazy stuff to try to have another baby, but just so you know, it's usually a lot easier and simpler for people to get pregnant and they don't have to go through all this. It was a lot easier when I got pregnant with YOU - it's just that this time around it isn't working the way it usually happens. Does that make sense?"
His response: "Mom, I know how people usually get pregnant."
*crickets chirping in the background*
"Really? You do?"
"Okaaaaay... tell me."
"Well, usually moms and dads have to do a lot of kissing to get pregnant, and that's how the sperm usually gets inside the mom. But you and Dad haven't been able to kiss a lot because Dad works so much."
(Oh, if only it were that simple!)
I figured that his version of events will do - for now.
** END OF LITTLE SIDE NOTE **
I brought my iPod along again this time, as I found it helped me to relax the last time, when I got pregnant. I had to wait a few minutes for Dr. R to come in, so rather than sit and fidget, I lay down on the table and listened to my "Mellow Music" playlist. Fortunately I wasn't kept waiting long.
Now, Dr. R was NOT the doctor who did my successful IUI back in April (that was Dr. S), but he had obviously heard about what had happened, so we talked about that a little bit and I was able to ask a few questions I'd had. Dr. R was the original fertility specialist I had seen when I first started going to this clinic back in September of 2009 (hard to believe we've been at this for a year...), and his original treatment plan for me only consisted of four IUIs before moving on to another treatment, namely in vitro (IVF). However, I ended up switching to Dr. S as my main fertility doctor (after having some issues with Dr. R early on), and while Dr. S knows that we won't be pursuing in vitro due to the financials involved, Dr. R did not know that. I told Dr. R that our insurance will cover up to six IUIs (but not IVF), so if #4 doesn't work, I want to exhaust the final two IUIs that insurance will cover since that will be as far as we go with treatment.
He said that he sets four IUIs as the standard plan because if it doesn't work in four attempts, it's likely not the best treatment for a particular patient, but since #3 was actually successful at getting me pregnant and we have no intention to pursue any further types of treatment, he had no problem following through with two additional IUIs if this one fails. That put my mind at ease.
Dr. R had a female med student with him today, and she is the one who started the procedure. Unfortunately, my pesky cervix-of-steel wasn't cooperating when she tried to thread the catheter through it, so Dr. R had to take over. And then even he ran into trouble with it, so I ended up needing a clamp of some sort to help get it in. This is not the first time Dr. R has had trouble getting the catheter in for my IUI, which sucks and is part of the reason I dread getting him for these procedures. The one time I got Dr. S for my IUI - the one that worked! - he got the catheter in right away and without causing me much pain. So I don't know what they do differently, but it's something, that's for sure.
Anyway, let me just tell you, folks, this is NOT a comfortable process.
We all know what it's like to have a bruised shin or a muscle ache or even a headache, and those aren't fun, but this particular type of pain - having something forced through your cervix - is really tough to explain. Rather than diffuse pain, such as you get with a headache, this is sharp, deep pain. It radiates outward from the cervix and all I can think of to describe it is that it's like super sharp knives or razor blades scraping something deep inside your abdomen. It's really not good. Not good at all. The only upside is that once the catheter is threaded, the pain ends and I can breathe again. Which is, of course, a good thing.
The other good thing is that apparently Super Man's count of "good" swimmers was 224 million this time, which is off the charts. They say they need a minimum of 10 million for the procedure, so obviously his is a very, VERY good number.
That 224 million is also the highest number we've had yet for all four IUIs. His last "record" was 133 million, and we thought that was great. In fact, Super Man was joking about getting personalized license plates with "133MM" on them.
Thank God he didn't order the plates yet.
Anyhoo, Dr. R injected the good swimmers straight into the promised land without incident. When he was done, I laid on the table for about 10 minutes listening to my iPod and silently chanting my little IUI mantra to the Universe.
I always get teary-eyed when I'm laying there meditating on my mantra, and this time was especially emotional, since it worked the last time I was there.
I couldn't help but think that if my April pregnancy had been a keeper, I'd have been 22 weeks this Friday and wouldn't need to be going through IUI again. I'd already know the sex of the baby and would be planning for its arrival and reveling in the beauty of second trimester pregnancy. Our family would be eagerly awaiting the new baby, showering my belly with love and kisses, so grateful for that little miraculous gift. I get a lump in my throat every time I think about it, and I ache for what was lost, especially because it took us 4 years to get pregnant again and we have no way of knowing if this or the final two IUIs will get me pregnant again.
Still. I still believe we're meant to have another baby. I still feel in my bones that we aren't done yet. So I have to believe that this or one of the final two IUIs will be the one that brings us another miracle.
When the timer went off and I got up and got dressed, I felt such a surge of positive energy, such hope. I went out to the waiting room to gather up Super Boy. He asked me if it worked, if I had a baby in my tummy. I told him I didn't know yet, that we have to wait two weeks to find out.
He grabbed my hand and looked up at me with his beautiful, solemn hazel eyes and said, "I really hope we get another baby, Mom. And I hope it's a little brother."
My sweet little miracle is praying for another miracle, and so am I.
Number 4, I hope you are the one. Universe, we're ready; we're waiting. We cannot wait to welcome another miracle into our family. We're ready.