Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Power of Positive Thinking (and Prayer)

We were not successful in December. January has brought with it the new year, and new things to try in our conception odyssey.

I had five appointments this week. Talk about an expensive week for co-pays! On Monday I saw my therapist and then the endocrinologist, Dr W. Thursday I had an ultrasound and a follow-up with Dr R, my OB/GYN. Friday, we did the IUI.

The purpose of the ultrasound was to check my follicles. When I scheduled it, they told me I had to have a full bladder. My instructions were to get up in the morning, go to the bathroom, then consume 32 ounces of water. I was to finish drinking an hour before the ultrasound, then not go to the bathroom at all.

Drinking the water was no problem for me. I routinely drinking a half to a whole gallon of water every day, depending on the season. This amount of liquid consumption definitely brings with it an increased need to urinate, and so I also do that frequently. By the time I got to the health center for the ultrasound, my eyeballs were floating. They checked me in and told me to take a seat to wait. There's no way that sitting down would have been a good idea. I stood in the waiting room, not standing still, but trying not to look like I was pacing. I probably only waited 5-7 minutes, but it felt like an eternity.

When the ultrasound tech came to get me, she was surprised that I was told to have a full bladder. Apparently, you can see the follicles better with an internal ultrasound, and you don't do that with a full bladder. Because the orders were written up for a full-bladder ultrasound, she had to do the procedure that way. I lay there, jiggling my foot and concentrating on not peeing on the table.

Once the tech saw all she could, and took pictures with measurements, she let me go to the restroom which was intelligently located right next to the ultrasound room. After relieving myself, she had me come back in and do the ultrasound again, the way it should be done, with an internal probe instead of the external one. The internal probe felt a little odd, but not uncomfortable.

I didn't initially have any idea what they meant by checking my follicles. What I have gathered is this: Inside the ovaries, follicles or cysts develop naturally during the monthly cycle. The largest of these follicles will eventually bloom and release an egg. The timing of when the egg will be released can be estimated by measuring the size of the largest follicle.

Please Note: I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. I have not done extensive, or even very little, research into this specific area of fertility. I am writing based solely on what I understand from speaking to the two OB/GYNs and the ultrasound tech I dealt with over the last few days. It's quite possible that I could be wrong in some of my understanding. Your mileage may vary.

All that being said, they used the ultrasound images to measure my follicles. At the follow-up with Dr. R, I was told that my largest follicle was 2.5cm. Dr. R was very excited about this. Apparently that's a good size. I was scheduled for an IUI for the following day.

First, Elric needed to create a sample Friday morning. The sample had to be delivered, still warm, to the doctor's office at 7:30, and created no more than half an hour before that. (I'm sure Elric had fun telling his boss why he would be late to work that day.) A tech needed to clean up and prepare the sample. (What, does he have dirty sperm or something?) The IUI itself was scheduled for 9 o'clock. Since Dr R. wasn't in the office on Friday, another OB/GYN did the IUI. He was also very encouraged by the size of my follicle.

The point of the IUI is to insert the sperm directly into the uterus, "right where all the action happens," according to the doc. I was picturing this as a turkey baster procedure but, of course, this is modern medicine, so they didn't actually use a turkey baster. The doc used a syringe with a long, flexible tube on the end of it.

The procedure itself took maybe five minutes. It was accompanied by some cramping while the tube was inserted, but none afterwards. Following the procedure they had me stay laying on my back for 10-15 minutes. In my typical fashion, I had brought a book, so I just relaxed and read for a while.

Dr R had initially said the IUI has a 30% success rate. When I met with Dr W on Monday, he felt the procedure could have a better chance of success with us as it might counteract some of the issues we might be having. Mind you, we don't actually know what exactly the issues are. Elric's sperm counts are a little low, but maybe not a concern depending on which doc you ask. The thyroid antibodies my body makes could be making things more difficult, but we don't seem to know that for sure.

I don't understand what, if any, difference the IUI makes as far as the thyroid issue, but it does get us past the low sperm count issue. Because the sperm are placed right up in the uterus, instead of having to swim up on their own, it makes it easier for them. Also, whatever they do to clean up the sample ahead of time apparently helps eliminate some low-count issues. We put a lot of them in there, and it only takes one.

I've been doing a lot of praying over the last few months. This odyssey has brought me back to wanting a relationship with God, which I've been away from for many years. Around Christmas I started reading my Bible again and going to church. I'm trying to read a chapter or two every morning, before I go about my day. I started with the gospels, at the beginning of the New Testament. In my reading Thursday morning, I came across this passage, Mark 11:23-24:

"I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."

I have asked in prayer, repeatedly, for God to help me become pregnant. After reading this verse, I prayed about it again Thursday morning, and each morning since. I need to believe that it will happen. I need to believe that I can have faith strong enough to move mountains, or at least one little sperm. I'm trying so hard to believe, but it seems to be more than just a decision to do so.

If you're a praying person, I'd appreciate your prayers. If you're not a praying person, and you don't want to start now, please send your positive thoughts. Through my mother, one of the most powerful prayer warriors I know, many people at her church, in our family, and even others farther away, have been praying for me on this issue. May God hear all our prayers, and may our faith move mountains.

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