Control What You Can Control

I spent the majority of the day worried that my treasured iTunes library with all its organized playlists had disappeared forever. I spent two hours with Apple support and an equal amount of time beforehand in chat rooms and reading troubleshooting links trying to avoid Apple support.

Of course I backup my Mac regularly like any responsible person who stores thousands of songs and family photos on her computer should so it shouldn’t have been a problem, right?

Yeah right.

I diligently backup like every 8 months or so.

I wasted the evening away desperately searching for a way to not have to go back to July of 2013 to replace the playlists. Early on in the process I was able to recover the music, but not the playlists. There was a point where I nearly gave up and accepted that it was enough to have all my music even if it wasn’t organized neatly in a slew of lists that together represent a chronological and musical expression of my entire being since I became an Apple user.

These playlists mark so many phases of my life. As a runner, I have playlists for certain distances that I run. For a short time today, the playlist that kept me company for nearly (but not quite!) four hours during my first marathon was lost.  And there was so much more, like the first lullaby list I made Spork and countless playlists I have created as gifts for special people at special times.  And let’s not forget my myriad fertility playlists with meditations and music put together in collections designed for specific stages of the IVF process.

All were gone for this short but panicked period of time.

I have mentioned before that I am Type A. This is why I have playlists that are the perfect length with just the right BPM to cover 5, 7, or 10 mile training runs. This is why I have multiple fertility playlists. This is why I spent the better part of the evening turning over every cyber rock I could find to determine how to get these playlists restored without losing a single song.  It wasn’t easy, but I did it. I won.

I usually do.

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In the fertility world, this type of behavior makes me a cliche. I am about to embark on my fifth IVF because I waited too damn long to start trying to get pregnant. I had a world to conquer, a career to develop, and a Master’s degree to complete before I could even fathom making babies. When I finally got serious at 34, we discovered that baby making was going to require more effort than all of these things combined.

So its no surprise that like a lot of women I try to exert as much control over the process as humanly possible. I do this despite knowing that IVF is a process that you simply cannot control. I have written before on the importance of acceptance and I believe fully in the mental benefit of being at peace with the fact that there is very little you can do to control or change infertility.

I fall short, however of relinquishing all control. There are certain things you can influence in IVF and as with other things in life I choose to live by the rules of the Serenity Prayer, letting go of those things I can’t control and controlling what I can.

There is so much with infertility that we have no ability to impact. Ultimately I cannot control whether we will have another baby or not. But I think its necessary to recognize that you can influence certain aspects and do your best in the process. There are things you can control. Many things.

I can make sure I take my shots on time and schedule my meds to arrive when I need them. I can control how I manage stress. I can control my weight. I can control my nutrition and exercise regimen. I can control my quality of care by being an educated patient who asks questions and advocates for myself.

You get the idea.

This is why we are taking an ungodly number of supplements. Its one tiny little thing that we can do to improve our odds of success.

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Each and every single one has some added benefit that in one study or another led to increased success rates. Every item on the list has been vetted by one of the best clinics in the country and they believe it could have a positive impact.

So why not take them?

I do, however, think its a good idea to keep our ability to directly influence the outcome in perspective.  My eggs have been with me since birth and we are having trouble because they are getting old and sticky, no longer dividing cleanly and quickly. All the Coq10 in the world is not going to reverse the impacts of aging.

However we have noticed a difference in our lab tests and our actual cycles since starting this regimen last year. My resting follicle count increased and our embryo production improved by 26% (22 resting follicles produced an additional three embryos).  Bill’s count and motility were always good, but his morphology improved from the very low end of the range to the high end of the normal range in the last two specimens since starting the supplements.

So yes, the crazy number of supplements are probably an exercise in exerting control over infertility.  But I don’t think that’s bad nor do I feel its futile. If it creates that one super healthy sperm that unites with that one magical and nutritionally nurtured egg to make a perfect little baby it will have been worth it.

I can’t change who I am any more than I can change the fact that we are infertile. It’s in my nature to try to control and influence. My DNA doesn’t allow me to give up without a fight. But I have at least learned to not allow the ability to control give me the false sense of responsibility when a cycle fails. That is the risk you run with trying to control infertility. If you accept that you can make a difference, then it is all too easy to make the mental leap that you are to blame when things don’t go well.

You cannot blame yourself when things go badly. What you did still may have had a positive impact, it doesn’t mean you did something wrong any more than it means you should stop trying to make a difference. Just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, pop a few more supplements, be compassionate with yourself and proceed to Plan B.

Pill Poppin’

This quick post is for those of you out there who struggle with egg quality or are low responders to stimulation meds. Here is the list of supplements I take daily. The list is from Celebrity Miracle Clinic and is especially designed for low responders. The acai supplement is based on a study the clinic is doing to ascertain the impact on egg quality in humans after promising animal studies. I was about to enroll in the study when I switched clinics.

Remember- consult your doctor! I am not a medical expert.

Please feel free to share other supplements or practices that you have found to improve quality and/or response as a reply to this post.

Morning

Myo Inostol 2gm

Co Enzyme q10 400mg

Omega-3 fatty acid 1000mg

Vitamin C 500mg

Vitamin E 200IU

L-arginine 1000mg

Pycnogenol 100mg

Acai Berry Veggie Cap 600mg

Prenatal

Vitamin D 2000 mg (under the advice of my Primary Care Physician)

 

Afternoon

Acai Berry Veggie Cap 600mg

 

Bedtime

Myo Inostol 2gm

Melatonin 3mg (women with thyroid issues should not take melatonin)

Co Enzyme q10 400mg

L-arginine 1000mg

Acai Berry Veggie Cap 600mg

 

Hello, Goodbye- Part 2

Image: John Via Flickr

Image: John Via Flickr

Phew. Glad I got Part One out of my system. Now that its done, that goodbye has been said, let’s talk about the FUTURE.

Well really, let’s talk about NOW because our next step is already well under way.

Hello Future.

We don’t stay down for long in this family. Before the sun set on us Sunday night I had already emailed the new/old clinic to explain our situation and set up a consultation. It often takes time to switch clinics. Time for diagnostic testing, Time to get on the calendar. I was expecting it to take time this time too. Nope… we are in full swing.

Before we left our new/old clinic we already had a consultation with our Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) to hear his recommendations for what we should try next after our miscarriage. Those of us in the fertility world call this the “WTH” (What The Heck?) appointment. Some more colorful ladies use another letter besides “H.”

I am more comfortable just calling it a consultation myself. If you think about it, with the odds of IVF being less than 50% the WTH appointment should be reserved for when a patient actually gets pregnant. At least that is how it feels for this unlucky girl.

In preparation for this discussion my new/old RE created a plan. All our lab work and other testing is recent enough that there is no need to repeat. So when I opened my email Monday morning and one of my favorite nurses had already responded, I was pleasantly surprised to find we could pass go and go straight to cycling. All we had to do was call the business office and pay a deposit.

By close of business on Monday, the deposit was paid and we were on the calendar for a May retrieval. We set up consultation appointment on April 10th to review the plan and also make necessary adjustments based on what we learned from Celebrity Miracle Clinic. I was told to call with my “pre-month” menses which I took to mean April.  However when my monthly friend arrived Wednesday I called to be sure and they told me it was close enough that we could get going. Yes!

Drugs have been ordered and are scheduled to arrive. I am back on birth control again and we are taking supplements to improve egg and sperm quality. At the consultation we will pick a date in May and count backwards to select a date when I will go off the pill to begin another antagonist cycle (I will explain what that means in a later post). We will retrieve my eggs in May and create our embryos which will all be frozen.

In June we will thaw several of them for transfer. We are doing this because I have never been pregnant on a fresh cycle. Some women just do better with frozen cycles and I appear to be one of those Ice Queens. More importantly, we know that my embryos are slow starters and a frozen cycle will allow us to better match the time when the lining is receptive to the development of the embryo.

Over the last few days I have already talked to three of my favorite nurses. I am excited. I am nervous. But mostly I am just glad to be ready to go and to be working with my old friends.

Now I just need to give new/old clinic, new/old nurses, and new/old RE a more creative and acceptable name. Something as fitting for them as “Celebrity Miracle Clinic” was for the other one.

I’m thinking about it…

Any ideas?