Monday, August 30, 2010

I Love This Part

The starting part, when everything is possible and hope abounds. I get to start stims tonight. Finally. It feels like it has taken forever to get here, but in actuality it has only taken two or three weeks. After the horrible Lupron allergic reaction I waited patiently for Aunt Flow to come visit. And like a good guest she showed up right on time, much to my surprise. Of coarse with her came a chest rattling cough, but we can't have everything. So once good old AF got here I went in for the normal baseline bloodwork and ultrasound. The only thing off was my E2 (estradiol) levels, which were a little high. So in order to get them to come down I had to inject a drug called Ganirlex for two nights.

I just got the call that my levels are back with in normal range which means tonight I get to start the drug that will hopefully get my eggs a growing, Gonal F. I am beyond excited right now. I am thrilled. I have hope oozing out of every pore in my body. And it scares the crap out of me. As much as I love this beginning point when everything is possible, I am petrified of what comes in three weeks time. After all the injections, ultrasounds, bloodwork, inseminations and waiting comes the reality. And reality has consistently bitten me in the behind. I can guarantee one thing: in three weeks there will be tears. We just have to wait and see if they will be tears of joy or depression.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hello Other Shoe, I've Been Expecting You

I am having an allergic reaction to the Lupron. I have never had an allergic reaction to anything before, and let me tell you it blows! I have a red rash (kinda like heat rash) all over my arms, chest, shoulders, and back. It itches like mad! I also feel incredibly run down, but not sure if that is due to the Lupron or the massive amounts of Benadryl I have been taking in the past 24 hours.

So, obviously I have stopped the Lupron injections. Which may or may not screw up my cycle. I was only on it for two days, so there is the hope that it won't derail things too much, but there is also a possibility it will delay my period for about a week to two weeks. I was supposed to get it Wednesday, I am kinda doubting that is going to happen now. Which, again, blows. But I suppose I have waited five months to get started again, so another week or two isn't going to kill me.

Thanks to this whole episode I can feel some of the old anger creeping in. Most the time I am pretty calm about the whole fertility treatment thing. I get sad sometimes, and discouraged. But most the time I am OK. Before we started seeing Dr. F I was a mess though. I was pissed and depressed and just in a bad way. Knowing there is help out there has helped a lot. But this has driven me one step closer to my emotional edge.

Today I am pissed. Pissed that I have to inject myself nightly, get horrible rashes that interfere with going to work and living my life. Pissed that I have to do all this so that I can have the hope of achieving something that most women can do without thinking. I know so many women that have gotten pregnant when they didn't want a baby, didn't love the father, and weren't ready for motherhood. I am pissed at them all right now. Here I am ready, willing, desperately in love with my husband, and all I get are bruises and welts from injections. I get two years of pain and heart ache and hopelessness. And really there is no end in sight.

I knew things were going too well. I even said it a couple posts back. The other shoe was going to drop. Hello other shoe, you suck! I feel bad because I have been taking my anger out on my husband. But he is there, and I know he will love me no matter what, so sometimes it is just easier to be mad at him for stupid stuff than at the whole world. I know it is unfair, but I think he gets it. I just want this week to be over. I want it to be next week. I have all of next week off of work. I have massages and day trips to visit my sister and one of my best friends planned. I have plans to take beautiful pictures of my gorgeous niece. I have plans to sit on my butt and do absolutely nothing. I can't wait for nothing.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

On the Road Again...

The road of fertility treatments that is. After a five month break we are back! And so are the hot flashes. Last night I gave myself my first Lupron injection. It wasn't too bad. I had one slight moment of hesitation before the plunge, but once I sucked it up I was fine. The needle does look a little bigger than my Ovidrel injections which intimidated me a little bit.

The really sucky part came about a half hour after the injection when I got hit full force with a hot flash that put the Clomid hot flashes to shame. I thought my face was on fire. I was so freaking hot I had to put our window a/c unit on full force despite the fact that it is leaking into our bedroom. But I got through it, and I am feeling pretty good today. I am not looking forward to going through that at work tonight though.

Here is the plan for this cycle: 20cc of Lupron for the next week or until I get my period, then I go in for baseline bloodwork and an ultrasound to get an Antral Follicle count (basically a count of the eggs that are ready to start growing before we start to stim them). Depending on how all the baseline tests come back we will start Gonal F (probably 75 iu) on cd 3 and we will step down the Lupron to 10cc which will prevent me from ovulating before I am ready. I will go in every two days for ultrasound follicle checks, when they see the follicles are around 18-20mm then I will do the Ovidrel trigger shot. We are going to do back to back inseminations this time around. The first will be 36 hours after the trigger shot and the second will be twenty four hours after that. If I get more than three or four follicles we will cancel the cycle since I have no desire to have a TLC show.

I must admit that my hopes are way, way, waaaaay to high. I haven't even started stimming yet and I am already pretty much convinced that this has to work. I need to get my emotions and hopes in check because if it doesn't work there is going to be an emotional break down of epic proportions.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Why I Love Ross...

Ross, TJ Maxx, Marshalls I love them. You can get great stuff for pretty cheap, and here are my latest finds!

Ok I hate grocery store Vanilla Extract, but I can't always afford the super awesome stuff. That is when I head on over to Ross or one of the others and grab some of this:

It isn't the best vanilla on earth, but it is leaps and bounds better than the crap on the grocery store selves. I especially love the Vanilla Bean Paste. It is like if I had split and scrapped the seeds out of hundreds of vanilla bean pods and bottled them. Both these puppies cost $4.99.

Now my next purchase I am a little ashamed of. I normally hate boxed cake mixes, it is cheating in my book, but I love Halloween. It is my 2nd favorite holiday. And I love zombies and zombie movies, so I kinda had no choice but to buy a zombie cupcakes mix. I mean come on, it has bone sprinkles! The cupcakes were also $4.99.

And last is my secret obsession. Aprons, I love aprons. I especially love vintage looking aprons. I sometimes think I would have loved being a 50's stay at home Mom so I could walk around wearing aprons, pearls and high heels and not feel like an idiot. That is why I was so excited to find this apron, it combines that vintagey look with my love of Halloween. I will probably be wearing this during trick or treat this year. Possibly with a pair of heels and some fake black pearls. $7.99 to be a naughty Mrs. Cleaver, not bad!

Stay tuned for an up date on everything fertility related in my life, stuff is actually moving again!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Baby Shower Cupcakes, Recipes, and a Competition!

As I was baking some cupcakes for a family friend's baby shower last night I realized I have never posted my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe! How is that possible? So today is the day. I am also posting a fairly decent red velvet recipe, though I must admit I do not like red velvet. I am opposed to anything that only puts 1 TBSP of cocoa powder in a recipe. Either make it chocolate or don't, that is my theory.

I must warn all my readers, my brain is on energy conserve mode today. I was up until 4am last night making these cupcakes, so the ole noggin is moving at the break neck speeds of a snail. I was tapped to make 120 mini cupcakes for a woman that works with my Mom to give as favors for her daughters baby shower. Got that? She requested Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream, Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream, and Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting. They all turned out pretty darn good, and I got some great pictures of them too, which I am trying to do more of. So with out further ado, here are the pics and recipes:

Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

This recipe is from Ina Garten, with a few changes by yours truly in italics.
Double Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup cake flour
3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee (I use the instant coffee from Starbucks, it has a great taste and the benefit of only making one cup instead of brewing a whole pot)

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Line cupcake pans with paper cups and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour with the sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt at low speed. In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the oil, eggs and vanilla. Slowly beat the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients until just incorporated, then slowly beat in the hot coffee until fully incorporated. The batter will be very very thin, that is A-OK.

Pour the batter into the prepared cups. Make sure not to fill them more than half way, they will rise A LOT. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool in the pans for 30 minutes, put onto a rack to cool completely.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

This recipe comes from the Southern Queen Paula Deen, again my changes are in italics.

1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups vanilla sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2-3 drops red food coloring gel
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flours, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 pound cream cheese
2 sticks butter, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

OK here is my big tip on how to make perfect Cream Cheese Frosting. DO NOT soften the cream cheese! The recipe will tell you to soften it or have it at room temp but don't! Take it straight from the fridge to bowl. Trust me. At room temp it gets gloppy and lumpy and kinda gross. Nice a cold from the fridge you will get smoothness every time.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

And finally, it is almost time for Cupcake Cup 2010!!! This is a cupcake competition in the Central Pa area. 2009 was the first year it was held. I made Chocolate Rum Marbled cupcakes and the judges sad they were too simple, so I am going all out this year. Expect a post in about two weeks with the choices for what I will make. I will open up voting to all 29 of my followers and to The Bump girls. Whatever you guys think I should make for the competition is what I will go with.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Watch Out for the Other Shoe....

Cause I swear it is coming. Things have been way too good the past couple days, something has got to give. The other shoe is going to come crashing down, I just know it.

First and foremost, my uncle is doing a lot better. He is home, and he knows his name and can say it. If you remember a few weeks ago I posted that he had Spinal Meningitis and when they asked what his name was he said "No." Apparently now he is back to his old ways at home, sneaking cheesecake behind my Aunt's back (he is on a quest to find the world's best cheesecake.)

Then we found out today that G's new job is going to pay more than we thought. His new job is 99% tips based, so we had to wait until he had a paycheck with two weeks of tips on it to know how things were looking. And they are looking good. Obviously his pay checks will fluctuate based on how generous people decide to be, but for now at least things are looking up financially. We even got to pay off a couple credit cards this week.

Then today I got the best news regarding fertility stuff since we started. I was told last week that the medications I need for our next cycle were going to cost around $850 dollars. We could swing it thanks to the saving we have been doing, but still, that number hurt a little. Dr. F said he wanted to work with the pharmacy and our insurance to find the cheapest drug available to us and the pharmacy would call to confirm the order when they got the price down a little. I wasn't expecting much, after all I had been told several times that drugs were not covered by my insurance, and I was OK with it because so much is covered.

Today I got the call from the specialty pharmacy. Thanks to Dr. F changing the drugs we will use and working with my insurance, we will only have to pay $70 for our meds! Apparently I was misinformed when I was told no meds were covered, actually they cover one med, Gonal F. Dr. F originally ordered Follistim, but since it wasn't covered he switched the order b/c he was going to use a voucher for one free vial of Gonal F. But it turns out it was covered. In addition he got the trigger injection covered too. I have no clue how he did this since I have had to pay the full price for it three times now, but he did. So I only have to pay two $30 co-pays and a $10 copay for the Lupron. The best part is if this cycle doesn't work and we end up moving onto IVF we won't have to pay much more than $70 for IVF meds.

I was so happy when I got the phone call I had to go hide in the bathroom at work to stop myself from crying. Now we can convert our IF savings account into a Nursery savings account. This gives me so much hope for our cycle, it is actually kind of scary. I was trying to keep my hope in check, because hope can be dangerous. Hope hurts, especially when it is crushed. I have been crushed enough for one year.

But now it is running wild inside my head. I know what it must feel like to be the furniture in my house when Wallace gets hyper and starts running and bounding off the couch and goes sliding into the dining room table. Because that is what it feels like is happening inside my head. Thoughts like "This is going to work" bounds off the side of my brain and collides with thoughts like "what color will we paint the nursery when this works?" I am in dangerous territory. The 110 pound dog running amok inside my head is named Hope and it could quite possibly leave more damage than any real dog ever could.