Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Hoping For Something To Be Wrong

Hoping for something to be wrong is quite an unusual feeling.  It is something that perhaps only someone battling infertility might share similar feelings.

What's wrong?  It is something I have been trying to figure out for 3.5 years.  First I thought it was my thyroid, then I thought it was my eggs, then I thought it may by my husband's sample.  Now it's immunology.

Why immunology?  Well, even IVF didn't work and now I cannot even get pregnant.  It's a strange, strange destination to find ourselves in.  3.5 years ago we thought that we just needed to get one to stick and now I'm even wondering if it's possible for one to actually stick.  They call that implantation failure.  Immunology factors can contribute to implantation failure.

I WON'T sit here and pretend that I don't think that this IS the problem just as I have done with the subclinical hypothyroid diagnosis.  I WILL sit here and admit that while I do understand Reproductive Immunology I do not have the level of understanding to describe it in this blog post.  It is a complicated affair.  I bought a book and read the introduction and first few chapters but have determined that I will not be reading anything further until/if it is necessary.  This may help provide me with clarity as I potentially move forward in a whole new world of requirements, restrictions and medications.

A few things are certain.  I will sleep better knowing our results.  I will feel either vindicated in finding an answer or continue to seek out the root cause of our problems.  Regardless of the outcome, I will proceed into this next round of IVF with much more confidence than I had in October.

A weight has been lifted and I am grateful for the opportunity to seek out this additional testing even if it has been of great expense.  Peace of mind is priceless.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Immunology Testing Complete (awaiting results)

What a whirlwind this last 6 weeks have been.  I picked a Reproductive Immunologist (Alan E. Beer Center for Reproductive Immunology & Genetics).  I had an endometrial biopsy last week.  I've also had 22 tubes of blood taken and sent to the immunology lab along with my husbands blood.  I hosted a baby shower at my house.  I've started a new job. I hosted Thanksgiving Dinner.  I've finished my Christmas shopping.  I've watched my very pregnant new co-worker mosey around the office.  I've learned that my other coworkers wife is also pregnant.  

Now I wait. 

I wait 3 weeks or so until the tests are in and the doctor reviews them. I will have a phone consultation to talk about any findings/recommendations and we will go from there.

Now I wait.  I am not good at this part.

Have I ever mentioned my husbands refuctance to all things medical and especially needles?  It has made the last 3.5 years challenging.  However, I must say that he handled his bloodwork like a champ this time around.  I am quite proud.  He was adorned with a nice bracelet while at the lab.  Neon orange is not his color but it did the job and he avoided any falling injuries.

Rainbow:       The tests are behind us.  What a relief!
Rainshower:   We have to wait.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I did it – I requested Immunology Testing

I sent an email to my Reproductive Endocrinologist, via my patient web portal, almost two weeks ago.  She hadn’t replied after a week so I forwarded her the message and reiterated my thoughts in a respectful manner.  She still hasn’t bothered to reply.  I am not surprised.  I didn’t expect her to be receptive to the idea but I certainly didn’t expect her to simply ignore me.  This has me peeved.

Here is a slightly edited version of the original message I sent to my RE:
Hello Dr. ______,
I had a couple of questions for you that I have not asked in the past and wanted to write to you about them.
The endometrial biopsy… What are you looking for? Which tests are you running on the lining? I suppose that I am curious specifically about whether or not Natural Killer cells will be tested.  Immunology is something that I have been meaning to ask you about but it hasn’t come up because I know that many REs are divided about it.
 I am also interested in the HLA DQ alpha genotype testing on (Husband) and myself. From what I understand this can have an impact on early pregnancy and my immune response.
 Lastly, have we had the Sperm Chromatin Structure Assay (SCSA) or Sperm DNA Integrity Assay (SDIA) tests performed on (Husband’s) sample?

In the mean time there have been some updates to share.
My State of Mind up to now?
I have been stressed and often distracted by all of this.  Since returning from my funeral trip I am having a hard time with things.  After the biopsy and the lack of response from my doctor I have really started to feel reservations about moving ahead with another IVF cycle.  In fact, we have already made that decision.  I feel it is important to follow my gut and get this testing before moving forward with any additional treatment.  I have been losing sleep over this.  Ordinarily nothing affects my sleep so this is a big deal.  The last time I was losing sleep over fertility issues I ended up switching RE’s.  I am getting the feeling that it is that time again.

Endometrial Biopsy
My endometrial biopsy went well.  The procedure itself was a piece of cake for me but I know that for most people there is some cramping and discomfort.  The results came back yesterday - “Fine.”  The nurse left me the message.  Considering that I didn’t even know what exactly they were looking for it is hard for me to interpret “fine”.  (I am not trying to pick on the nurse but I am frustrated by the lack of response from my Doctor).  Also of note is the my “lab results” section of my web portal shows no test results for the biopsy so I cannot put two and two together to know what “fine” means.

Reproductive Immunology
I reached out to a Doctor in Las Vegas (and now two Doctors but considering a third as well) that are true believers in Reproductive Immunology.  I scheduled a skype consultation with one Doctor but it will not take place until FEBRUARY.  That’s four months away - a heck of a long time to wait just for testing. 
Due to this long wait I reached out to another RI in NYC and am in the process of scheduling a brief phone consult with him too.  A forum has led to me a third Doctor in California that I am now favoring due to the possibility of having a local RE work with them (something that the first two Doctors either do not do or REs will not agree to work with them).   

Out of State IVF?
Depending on the results of the Immune testing I may consider traveling out of state to one of these Doctor’s clinics for IVF.  First, though, I need to do more research in trying to find a Doctor, either an RE, OB or PCP, in my state that believes in this controversial subject in the event that an RI might agree to work with a local RE.  I reached out to one of the only clinics near me that I have not worked with yet and they have referred me out of state.  

Getting Ahead of Myself
I realize that in many ways I am getting ahead of myself here.  I know that I have not been diagnosed with an Immune issue.   My husband hates that I am already acting as if we do have this issue but here is the thing… I need to feel like I am doing something to help us.  I need to keep busy so that I will not focus so much on the delay that this is causing.  I need to know that if we do end up having an immune issue that we are better prepared to move forward and move forward informed, with confidence and swiftly.  That is my goal – keep moving forward and keep fighting for us.

I need to be my own advocate. 
No one cares more than me so I need to keep pursuing the hunches and what I feel strongly about.  No one has all of the answers.  No one has a crystal ball.

Next Steps

  • Skype conversation with Reproductive Immunologists
  • Blood tests for my husband and me
  • Breathe
  • Sleep better at night

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Where have I been? Busy.

So let's see.  It has been awhile.  I had my IVF followup.  My embryos were "good". That's not the issue according to the doctor.  It should have worked.  The team of doctors that review failed cycles wants me to have some additional tests.  Another office hysteroscopy and an endometrial biopsy.  The office hysteroscopy is complete (all good) and the endometrial biopsy is schedule for Friday, October 10.  We also have a new IVF protocol... Not sure the details but they will have me on Menopur this time if that tells you anything.

Life stuff: I have been insanely busy with work this summer and not loving a minute of it.  I am in the midst of a mini family feud.   I was approached about taking a new job... Heavily pursued really.  I was extremely flattered but in the end I turned it down.  That whole thing was insanely stressful and emotional since I have been thinking about life without kids and trying to resolve some feelings of sadness about the possibility.  Now I am interviewing for a new job more in line with where I see myself without children.  It has been a BUSY couple of months.  

My husbands' grandmother also passed away requiring an out of state trip that really reminded me (read: 'smacked me in the face') of how stuck in limbo we are.  I was visiting these very family members in the midst of my first miscarriage and here I was back after more than three years with no baby, and no pregnancy, seeing these people who have obviously been busy making babies in my absence.  It was tough.  Tough also because in that part of the country it is normal to start families early and it was baby central for four whole days.  Not pleasant, not at all.  Then these thoughts begin:  Part of me kicks myself for being responsible and waiting to begin a family until we were married and financially secure.  Would all of this have been avoided if I had younger eggs?  

I have been thinking about my life without children and think I have a better vision of what I would like that to look like... If that is the hand I am dealt.  When I first started this blog I was much more optimistic about things working out as I had planned.  I thought that I would have already had a child and may even be pregnant with my second by now.  Now I am unsure if we will even have a baby.  What a difference a few years can make for your hopes and dreams.  

I am also randomly but regularly plagued with thoughts about reproductive immunology.  I keep wondering about my immune system and if it may be the silent cause of my grief.  I meant to bring it up at our IVF followup appointment but was thrown for a loop when all of these new/repeat tests were suggested. I was especially happy that they wanted to do the endometrial biopsy.  Once upon a time I suspected that I had a luteal phase defect.  Perhaps this biopsy will help clarify this old hunch.  I have moved on from that though.  My latest hunch is related to my immune system.  Unfortunately, I have kept backing off about asking my RE's about her stance on the immunology topic and ask for testing.  In fact, as I sit here typing this I am supposed to be sending a message to my RE to request the testing.  I WILL do it.  I promise.  Tomorrow.

I suppose this blog post is helping me put things into perspective, help me be brave about asking and to help me wrap my head around what is truly important to me.  If immunology testing is bugging me this much I need to follow my gut.  She will say there is no research - that there are no studies.  She is right, but this sort of thing is incredibly hard to study and prove... So much of the reproductive field is still such a mystery.  They do not know why some medications work the way they do and many of the medications themselves are meant to treat other illnesses whose side effects happen to work favorably for ovaries, etc.  See where I am going with this? The science is great but the also science has gaping holes... Why not just test me so I can cross it off the list?  There is no harm in that.

So what are these tests I keep eluding to?  Natural killer cells and HLA DQ Alpha Matching (if you don't know about it, Google it, there is no way I am going to try to explain it here).  There I said it.  I keep coming back to this and keep thinking that my own body is working against me.  I need to be able to move on from that feeling before beginning the next round of IVF.  I need to have a little reassurance.  It is all about feeling comfortable and confident moving forward.  Testing will bring me that comfort and confidence so bring on the needles please.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

So Many Unresolved Questions

Having undergone the physically grueling and emotionally exhausting process that is IVF has caused me to doubt my future.  Will IVF ever work?  If IVF works will I miscarry again?  After all, these eggs of mine are three years older than they were when we first began all of this.  Will these supplements really help my egg quality?

What would my life be like without children?
Will I be okay with not having any children?
What will my relationship look like without children?  What about my daily life - what will that look like?

Such big questions.  No real answers.

Unfortunately, my life has been on hold for over 3 years.  It is sad to say but true.  I live by the TTC calendar.  I sacrifice my money, my vacation days, my sanity, my career, my job prospects and much more to ride on this hamster wheel.  I am beginning to feel like the end is near.  I have a feeling that I won't be able to sustain this quest for many more years.  I don't think I am up to it.  I probably have one more year of fight left in me.  12 or so months.

I know that I owe it to myself to keep trying until I feel like I am defeated, or at peace with the circumstance.  I am not defeated yet.  Just because I am tired of the hamster wheel doesn't make me defeated.  I know that I do not want to look back with regret about what I wished I would have done.  I know that I am an amazingly strong person that is handling all of this quite well considering.  After all, how many childless women out there have the misfortune to battle recurrent miscarriage AND now infertility?  That must be a small percent.  The recurrent miscarriage percent alone is around 2% so how many people in that 2% then need to deal with infertility on top of it?  Geesh.  That is one BAD lottery.

This is exactly why we won't be starting another round of IVF until October - November.  I need a break.  I need to recharge.  Recuperate.  Re-energize.  I need to reconnect with my husband.  

We have a follow up appointment with our RE, but not until September 11, a full month after our beta test.  I am a little frustrated by that but at the same time know that it is fine to have to wait so long since we won't be jumping right into another IVF cycle.  I have been compiling my questions for the appointment.  I am curious what she will say about our two day 5 blasts.  She was always so hesitant to talk about the grades which I always thought was a sign that they weren't the greatest quality.  The positive point to that is that it helped set my expectations appropriately.

One thing is certain.  If I am able to get pregnant again I KNOW that IF I miscarry again I WILL fall into another depression.  Probably worse than my depression after my second miscarriage - the miscarriage that pulled the rug out from under me.  This current hypothetical pregnancy has been in the making for over two years.  It will have been in the making for 2.5 years by the time we try IVF again.  That is a long time to not be pregnant and not have a miscarriage.

One thing I know though...  I am a Rockstar of IVF.  The meds don't phase me.  The needles are just fine.  The constant internal ultrasounds - whatever.  The side effects are all minimal.  The mood swings are non-existent.  I can and will do it again.  I can only hope for better results in the future. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Potato Chips for Dinner

Yup.  Potato Chips for dinner.  This is what I do.  I get a negative pregnancy test and eat a lousy dinner.  It happens every time.  At least I do not dwell here and do not make potato chips the norm - it's a one-day-only-thing.

I also ordinarily curse the pre-natal's and go on a vitamin strike for a week or even more.  But not this time - I promise.  Instead I will be adding MORE CoQ10 to my daily vitamins.  It is good for egg quality and I have read that it takes 3 months for it to begin to improve things.  I have been taking 400 mg since March 5 but reduced it to 200 mg after our retrieval (so 200 mg from May 21 until Aug 5).    I was going to stop it all together but the planner in me was preparing for the unfortunate position we are finding ourselves in at the moment.  We are here.  Sigh.

Here is the new vitamin tally:
One-A-Day Pre-Natal
One-A-Day Pre-Natal with DHA
2 Oscal Calcium (1000 mg) with D3 (400 IU) Lunch and Dinner
Qunol Mega CoQ10 (400 mg Ubiquinol - the active CoQ10).  I may bump it up to 600 mg, maybe.
Nature Made D3 (10,000 IU for a total of 10,800 IUs of D3)

Things I do right:  
I very rarely drink alcohol. Prior to Egg Retrieval it had been 3 months since I had a drop of alcohol.
I drink at least 64 ounces of water everyday.
I minimize my caffeine intake to under 200 mg daily to allow myself the occasional coffee or soda.
I get enough sleep.
Stress is manageable for me most of the time.

Things I could improve:
Leafy greens

CD 26 - Frozen Embryo Cycle (from IVF #1)

Today is CD 26.  13 DPO.  8 DPT.

We had our uneventful transfer on Tuesday, July 29.  It went very well.  I had no cramping and no spotting, just like last time.  We transfered two day-five blasts, both rated as a 6 out of 8 (or "average quality" according to the Doctor).  Beta day is Monday, August 11 (CD32/18 DPO/13DPT).  This seems like a ridiculously long wait compared to other people, but whatever.

I have *not* been feeling too hopeful in the last few days.  I was looking for symptoms but there weren't any to read into other than some frequent urination (at night) which has since passed and a brief bout of nausea yesterday (but I can blame that on me being in denial about my lactose intolerance).  

This afternoon I gave in and tested.  BFN.  Yes, it could be a false negative.  My urine may have been diluted.  But I just know it to be true.  I am already looking ahead to another round of IVF but not looking forward to the follow up appointment with our Doctor.

Ugh.  Will I ever get off this hamster wheel?  Will I ever be able to use vacation days for vacation again instead of doctors appointments and egg retrievals?  Seriously.  For once I'd like to be able to think about and plan a vacation without thoughts like: 

* What if I am pregnant?
* Where will I be in my cycle?
* Will we have to miss a TTC cycle?
* What if I have morning sickness? 

What if...  I am beginning to tire of the 'what ifs'.  I am tired of having our circumstance hold us back from living our lives.

But hey, as I type this me two cats are cuddled up on my lap comforting me.   I could not be happier to see them once we returned home from our trip.

Things could be so much worse.  I could be depressed.  I could be resentful.  I could be mad as hell.  But I am none of those things.  We have more try's.  We can do more IVF cycles.  We can start talking about adoption.  

It will be okay.  I am ok.  I promise.

Friday, July 11, 2014

CD1 - Frozen Embryo Cycle (from IVF #1)

Today is Cycle Day 1.  Tomorrow I go in for a bloodtest to make sure my levels are ok.  If all is well this will be our frozen embryo transfer cycle.  Tentative Transfer Date: July 29.

Things that could possibly derail our cycle:  air travel at the end of the month.  We are hopeful that our transfer will not be delayed by the laboratory 'grouping' schedule that I did not know about when booking flights.  Thanks RE office for mentioning our transfer might be delayed by "a day or two" the first time I mentioned travel.   Our flight leaves on the 31st so we are only ok with a one day delay.  Fingers crossed.

Fingers crossed that we won't have to abandon the cycle on the 10 yard line.  Only time will tell.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Post-IVF Follow Up & Next Steps

Well, we had our IVF follow up appointment a couple of days ago.  It was something that I was both looking forward to and not really interested in doing.  I joked with my husband that he could just go in my place and report back to me.  When it came time for the appointment my husband found himself double-booked and had to skip the appointment.  It was something he wanted to be there for and was quite apologetic about but I wasn't hurt by his absence.

The main thing I was looking forward to was learning the grades of our embryos but also learning how many they recommend to transfer back for a frozen transfer and what the protocol would be for the frozen egg transfer.

The thing I wasn't looking forward to: rehashing failure.  

I was pleasantly surprised by the appointment.  I was upbeat and positive going into the appointment and my RE wasn't too apologetic or emotional with me which is always what I prefer.  And we didn't rehash the past.  We focused on the future.  It was a huge relief.

We began the appointment talking about my great response to the medication and how pleased they were with the 17 eggs of which 11 where mature.  I expressed how pleased we were with those results as well and that the side effects throughout were very minimal.

I wanted to know how our embryos progressed when compared to someone without a history of recurrent miscarriage.  She told me that if it were someone else, without a history of loss and now infertility, she would have expected more embryos to have made it to freeze when beginning with 17 eggs.  This leads her to believe that it IS a quality issue that we are dealing with.

I wanted to know our embryo grades.  She began by saying that they recommend transferring both embryos.  She was hesitant to give me the actual grades, and in the end she didn't, but she did say that they were above average.  She sort of side skirted the grades by returning back to the subject of an elective single embryo transfer.  She is terrified to give us twins, that much is quite obvious.  So, in a way her fear of both of these embryos sticking and giving us twins assures me that whatever grade they are, they stand a good fighting chance. (BUT she did have that same fear about our two, day 3 embryos we transferred in the fresh cycle so who knows)

Twins.  Our doctor is far more concerned with us having twins than we are.  I understand her concerns (she should know, she has twins herself) but these are not OUR concerns.  We will be transferring both embryos at our FET.  We look at it like this:  1.  This is what the algorithm recommends, 2. Even if both stick that doesn't mean we will bring home twins - it doesn't even mean that we will bring home one, especially with our history of loss.  The goal is to bring home a baby but if we happen to bring home two we will be thrilled.  We understand that it will be more challenging than a single baby but we have nothing to compare it to (since we are childless) so it will just be our normal if both happen to make it home.  Would it be challenging, yes, but if it happens it is meant to be.

FET protocol.  Call on CD1.  Blood test on CD2.  Begin estrogen/estrace pills.  Ultrasound and blood work on CD14 to make sure my lining is good and that I haven't ovulated.  If all is well we would have our transfer 5-6 days later.  Medrol is taken before and after the transfer.  Progesterone will be taken after CD14 and until Beta Day.

So now we wait.  We wait on insurance approval and for CD1 to arrive.

Rainbow:  The follow up appointment went better than I expected.
Rainshower:  Today is CD23 with no signs of ovulation in sight.  I may be anovulatory again, maybe not, but I promised myself that I will let things happen naturally this time and resist the temptation to take progesterone to bring on an artificial period.  I have put my reproductive system through enough lately.  I just need to be patient.  Easier said than done.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Reflecting on a Failed IVF Cycle

Our first IVF cycle was a failure, but was it?  

Yes and no.  

No, I am not pregnant but, yes, we do have two frozen embryos for a frozen embryo transfer (or two depending on our Doctor's recommendation).  We have a follow up appointment on June 26 so I hope to know that information soon along with the protocol for a FET.

I am already at peace with our circumstance and am already moving forward.  My mother-in-law on the other hand is taking all of this very hard... Harder than us.  We knew the statistics.  We knew we had a 45% chance of success as opposed to the 20% chance in a medicated IUI.  We cautioned her to not get ahead of herself when she congratulated us on the transfer as if it meant we were automatically pregnant, but I don't think she was prepared for it not to work.

This makes me feel bad, of course.  It is moments like this that I can plainly see other peoples' desires and hopes for us.  It is times like this that true emotion peeks out of otherwise well-spoken and carefully-worded inquiries and responses from family members.  

Lesson learned: We will be keeping my sweet and well intended MIL in the dark about our frozen embryo transfer.  For her sake and ours:)   FYI the only people that knew what we were up to were our parents and select bosses.

I have been writing less here than I originally intended when we were cleared to go ahead with IVF.  Not for a lack of motivation, however.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  Going into IVF I decided to write everything in a journal.  

My IVF journal included things like: 
  • Inspirational quotes 
  • Goals, fears and setting expectations
  • medical protocol
  • Appointment timeline
  • Lifestyle goals (diet, vitamins, eastern medicine)
  • Medication (notes & calendar)
  • Ultrasound & blood work results
  • Egg retrieval results, fertilization report, etc.
Keeping this IVF journal was one of the best decisions I ever made.  I intended on using the journal as a way to keep everything in one place and a way to stay organized but, it quickly turned into something greater.  It was with me at all times and I just felt less overwhelmed and anxious having it to reference in my moments of confusion, worry and anxiety.  It helped calm me and put everything into perspective.  I thoroughly believe that keeping the journal was the single-most anxiety-diminishing exercise that I could have done for myself in the IVF cycle.

So in those moments that I probably would have hopped on this blog to write out some of my anxiety I found myself writing in the journal instead.  The physical act of writing also helped calm my nerves.  Here are the titles of my journal entries during the process:
  • Roller Coaster of Feelings - a proclamation of how I intended on using the journal and that it would probably be written in most during those difficult times.
  • PGD or No PGD? - I touched on this subject in a previous blog post here.
  • Today My Heart Aches - it was one of those days that your heart just hurts and longs to have your baby in your arms.  Ever have that feeling?  It doesn't happen to me often but when it does I just ache for a baby... It's almost like being in love but not having that love in return... That's the best way I can think to describe it.
  • Calm, Cool and Collected - an entry about being at peace with the IVF process and maintaining a calmness that to this day I am proud of (especially because I was calm until a few days before Beta Day-no small feat).  I was Zen, what can I say?  I do not think I will ever be able to fully explain why.
  • Dreams - crazy dreams.  Vivid dreams are uncommon for me.  I had been having many vivid dreams.  I dreamt twice about lightning.  "To see lightning in your dream signifies sudden awareness, insight, spiritual revelation, truth and purification"
  • Marathon Monday & Dreaming / Hoping for Ovulation - I had a little scare right before beginning Lupron.  I wasn't sure I ovulated which was a concern because I hadn't ovulated in the previous cycle.  It seems silly to think about how much I was worried at the time but it just goes to show you how this process can be all-consuming at times.
  • Anovulating - UGH - more worry about having to delay our IVF cycle due to delayed ovulation or anovulation.  Good times.
  • And so it begins - stimulation begins.  Nothing new here.  I've already done plenty of shots at this point so no biggie.
  • Feeling the Burn - my ovaries are feeling like they are responding.  Nothing too crazy but I know my ovaries are there when they are normally the silent hero/villain depending on my mood.  This chart was helpful to me in seeing if I was on track based on my stimulation day.
  • Too Busy to Journal - I am in an IVF whirlwind.  Ultrasounds and blood tests are frequent at this point and it is getting difficult to find the time to process my thoughts let alone find the time to write about them.
  • Calendars - I copied my two month calendar which highlights the shear volume and frequency of appointments, etc.  It is crazy to see it all in one place like that.  It really puts things into perspective.  This is a big deal, a true 'life event'.
  • 17 Eggs Woot Woot - egg retrieval day.  17 eggs!  It was surprisingly simple and pain free.  I was back at work the next day (at my desk job).  
  • The Two Worst Medical Questions - reflecting on egg retrieval day.  The anesthesiologist ask the two most painful medical questions... "How many pregnancies have you had?" and "How many living children do you have?" M My painful answer is '3' and 'no living children'.  It's a punch in the gut right before egg retrieval.  It just stinks.
  • Is this Real Life? - it almost doesn't feel real that we just had our egg retrieval.  It went so smoothly, and without side effects that it sort of feels like a dream.
  • The Holy Grail of Charts During the Wait Before Testing - I found myself coming back to this chart frequently.  It was fun to think about our embryos/morulas/blastocyst's progress each day.  I enjoyed visualizing them burrowing into my uterine lining and implanting themselves.

  • I am Feeling Down Today - I was 12 DPO and feeling out.  It was a bad day.  I tested and it was negative.  I was mad at myself because I wanted to wait until 13 DPO, for no particular reason, but I caved a day early.  This phrase really summed up my general feeling:

  • A Little Bit of Optimism - I was clinging to the hope that I could still be pregnant but just not testing positive yet.  I found a chart on fertility friend that helped me find the optimism I needed that day.
  • No Dice - Beta Day.  The official results were in.  A follow up appointment was scheduled.  I sense that the nurse was surprised that I didn't want to instantly hang up and cry when I requested to speak the the scheduler about setting up the follow up appointment.  I'm moving forward people.  There is no sense in dwelling on the negative results.  That doesn't accomplish much.  Instead I binged on bad food and skipped my pre-natals for a few days as I always do after a bad cycle.  Don't judge me.  We all have our thing, right?  Taking those stupid prenatal vitamins on the heels of a negative test is like adding insult to injury.  It is like they are taunting me and saying 'why do you even bother with us, you don't need this folic acid because you aren't pregnant'

At the end of all of this I still consider this cycle a success.  We have two frozen embryos... Two more chances at starting our family.  I will look back at this cycle with pride in our accomplishment and with a sense of peace that we did everything we could and did it without too much personal and physical sacrifice.

The only true side effect I had after all of the stimulation, retrieval and gooey medication after the transfer was some gas pains that at times became somewhat severe. But hey, as someone that has stomach ulcers, IBS and lactose intolerance it wasn't much different from an ordinary week.   More than you ever wanted to know I am sure.

Successful.  Truly successful in my book.

RIP to our two 8-cell embryos with slight fragmentation.  I cradled you as best as I could.

Rainshower: I did IVF and all I had to show for it was gas ;)
Rainbow: Seriously though, those two sweet frozen embryos are waiting on us.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

IVF Results...

We had a 3day transfer.  The algorithm that the embryology lab uses indicated that we should transfer two, our Doctor suggested one.  We transferred two 3day embryos with slight fragmentation - we put our trust in the algorithm.  With that the wait began.

The wait was difficult but no moreso than a medicated IUI cycle.  I began to analyze little things here and there and analyzed the lack of symptoms as well.  I was quick to dismiss the ovarian twinges I was feeling because at this point in this medical marathon I KNOW that those twinges are just an indication of developing cysts.

We were fortunate enough to have two embryos to freeze...the grades of which are unknown at this time, unfortunately.

Beta Day arrived but not without me testing at home in advance.  Negative.  I like to know the results ahead of time.  The nurse confirmed my suspicion in record time on Beta Day.  Sigh.

I follow up appointment has been scheduled.  I am curious about a frozen embryo transfer schedule and protocol.

I am ok.

I really am.

The thing is, I wasn't letting myself get too excited. If it DID work, and I got pregnant, that didn't mean that everything was going to work out...  I could always have another miscarriage.  You never know.

It is sad though.  I haven't been pregnant since July 2012.  This whole escapade began in June 2011.  It has been three years.  Three LONG years.  

I wish I could say that I was able to still fill those years with wonderful memories, great trips and with good friends but that just isn't the case.  I have been through the ringer and it is written all over my face.  I have been forever changed.  There will always be a profound sadness associated with this time period in my life, regardless of the eventual outcome.

At this point I am a little all over the place with my thoughts and emotions.  Some days I am fine.  Others not so much.  There are so many things to consider and so much free time that I find my mind wandering into the 'what if' scenarios. 

What I do know is that my life feels incomplete.  There is a missing piece.  The big question though is "will a baby make me feel complete?"

Thursday, May 22, 2014

IVF Whirlwind

Where do I begin?

Well my baseline ultrasound showed a small cyst, just as I suspected.

Fortunately, though, we were able to proceed with the IVF cycle based on the small size (1.5 cm) and my bloodwork.

I started stimming on CD2 and triggered on CD 12.

At my last monitoring ultrasound, on Sunday, May 18, I had 18 follicles of various sizes.

Egg retrieval was on Tuesday.  They retrieved 17 eggs which we were thrilled with.  The procedure went well and I had minimal discomfort afterwards.  It honestly couldn't have gone any better.

Yesterday, 1 day after the retrieval, we got our fertilization report... We had 12 mature follicles which we were very thankful for.  I was hoping for 10 so having 12 was great news.  The 12 mature eggs were fertilized using ICSI.  9 fertilized!  

We are ecstatic.

Tomorrow is day 3 after retrieval.  They will be calling me in the morning to tell us if we will be proceeding with a day 3 transfer in the afternoon or a day 5 transfer on Sunday, May 25.

Until tomorrow morning I have no idea how our 9 little ones are doing.  I am ok with that.  Somehow 'the planner' in me is not too upset that this uncertainty.  I am going with it.  I trust the process.

I am in a great place emotionally.  I am optimistic and hopeful.  I am far more positive this cycle than I have been in the longest time.  I guess you could say that I just have a feeling that this is all going to work out for us.

And what I mean by 'work out for us' is that even if we don't get pregnant this cycle we have the potential to have an embryo (or more) to freeze to try later.

In a perfect world this cycle will work out AND we will have our frozen future babies waiting for us.  But even if that doesn't happen I will consider this cycle a success.

I love the thought that our complete family could be growing in a Petri dish a few miles away.  I just love science.  It is amazing that all of this is even possible.  

Amazing.  Did I day that?  This is just amazing.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

IVF Baseline Ultrasound & Bloodwork

Tomorrow is the day.  The day where it all could begin.  I am nervous.  

I don't have a good track record with baseline ultrasounds.  I seem to have been blindsided by cysts in these types of appointments enough that I am ALWAYS nervous going into them.

It's funny because these are the ultrasounds that worry me most.  Not the ones where we are monitoring growth.  


I am nervous about them this time around even though I have been off stimulation medication for months now.  Why?  I have been feeling twinges here and there on both sides.  THAT is really what makes me most nervous about tomorrow's results.  PLUS I had an anovulatory cycle last month which was a first for me and tells me that those cysts were probably on the large size in order to keep me from ovulating.

What if there are cysts?  How will that affect things?  I am already on Lupron.  What sort of delay could this possibility cause?

If there aren't cysts (which is the likely outcome) then I will begin Gonal-f on Friday and hold on for the unknown.

In a weird way I am looking forward to the unknown.  Maybe then I will not analyze every little thing.  

I hope.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Lupron. The easiest of the IVF meds.

I began Lupron on Saturday.  I have had 4 doses so far without any noticeable side effects or complaints.

I now await my period so I can go in for a baseline ultrasound which will hopefully give us the "all clear" to move ahead with stimulation.  

Gonal-F is in my future hopefully.  225 units too.  That is a LOT of Gonal- F for me.  My last follistim IUI cycle only used 37.5 units.  Gosh, that needle is going to be inside me for awhile as I slowly press the plunger.  Eeek.

I'm not going to stress about it though.  I am content at the moment and am enjoying it.  I am trying to take things as they come and not look too far ahead a freak myself out.  So far that is working.  

I still wonder though, for scheduling purposes, when my retrieval will be and how I will be feeling leading up to the procedure.  I suppose I am preparing myself for a decent level of discomfort in my abdomen from my pleasantly plump ovaries.

I am crossing my fingers that I don't bloat to the point that I look pregnant.  That would be annoying.  But whatever.  If looking 4 months pregnant will bring us closer to a take home baby,  I will gladly endure the strange looks and water cooler gossip about me.   I don't care what anyone thinks anyway.  

I guess I just want to be as comfortable and stress free as possible. 

Things are great today.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Much Ado About Nothing

I ovulated.  On Wednesday.  My BBT had to be tricky this month and not rise until this morning. 

Blood test confirmed ovulation.

I start Lupron tomorrow morning.  

Yippee to the beginning of the shots.

I almost seem silly for stressing yesterday but that's the nature of this circumstance.  There is always something to worry about.

Moving forward.  What a relief!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

I am anovulatory again and I am a mess about it

What more can I say?

I am AGAIN anovulatory and I am quite upset about it.

I am supposed to have a CD 20 bloodtest tomorrow to confirm ovulation so I can begin Lupron for this IVF cycle.

I called the nurses' line this morning to fill them in and inquire about what to do.

The nurse flat out told me that confirming ovulation with basal body temperature charting isn't accurate.  

Um, excuse me?  

I've only been tracking ovulation using this method for the last 2 years or so.  If it didn't work reliably I wouldn't continue to do it.

Anyway, she told me to come in tomorrow anyway so that the bloodwork can give us definitive answers.  Ok.

I asked "what if it shows I didn't ovulate?"

She said "we will have you come back next week for more bloodwork"

I asked "so we aren't delayed another month?"

She said "no"

But what happens next week?  What are they looking for in my blood work?  So many questions.  

I guess I am slightly relieved.  But given my history I am not completely relieved. In the past my body has not cooperated with medical/prescription intervention.  

Birth control?  Complete Disaster.  
Estrogen?  Mood Swing City.  
Provera?  Back fire!  
Clomid? No CM & Major Rage!
Follistim? Cysts afterwards.
Follistim again?  Cysts & anovulation.
Oh joy.

Now I am blaming myself.  I can't help but think this is my fault because I took progesterone last month to bring on my next cycle.  I should have just rode out the anovularory cycle last month.  I knew I had healing cysts.  I could feel them. I was impatient though.  I knew better.  I knew that this could happen.  I should have resisted the urge to speed things up because now look, they are slowing down.

It is always something.  

Am I ever going to get a break?  
Am I ever going to be pregnant again?  
Am I ever going to experience the worry of an impending miscarriage again?  
Am I ever going to be okay if this doesn't work out at the end if the day?  
Am I ever going to know when to give up on this and move ahead with adoption?

It is always something.  Yes, I am getting ahead of myself here but seriously, enough is enough.  I have had it.  I am going to kick some butt in this IVF cycle.  I am determined now.  Bring on the delays.  The problems.  The OHSS.  The bloat.  The pain.  The waiting.  Bring it on.  This body of mine WILL cooperate.  I will not accept less.  I will beat this.  I will win.  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Anovulation Over - Into IVF.

I am on CD 4 today.  We are moving along now! 

Admittedly, I cheated. 

During the last cycle, on CD 25, I began taking progesterone supplements to fool my body into thinking I ovulated.  Tisk, tisk, I know.  Considering that I have NEVER made it to CD 25 without ovulating, that the anovulatory cycle was immediately preceding our IVF cycle (impatient girl) and that I had no idea how long the cycle would go on, I took matters into my own hands.  I had progesterone left over from my previous RE and I used it without remorse.

I cheated. 
I didn’t tell the doctor I cheated either. 
Slap my hand. 
I don’t care. 
This girl was impatient.

This girl can now plan ahead.  And plan I did.  I have hypothetical dates all drawn up.  Now I can relax and let the plan fall by the wayside as they normally do.  But at least I have a framework to work from now.

Why does a plan matter?  Well.  Summer is fast approaching.   We have a wedding out of state that I need to buy plane tickets for.  If all goes well we will be able to make it – if not things could get dicey.

Oh, the joys of trying to make a baby.  Life tends to revolve around it unfortunately.

Here’s my hypothetical calendar.  Let’s see how it all works out in the end, shall we?

Luteal Lupron IVF Protocol:
  CD 20                   4/25, Fri               Bloodtest to confirm ovulation
  CD21                    4/26, Sat              Begin Lupron (10 units for at least 10 days)
~CD32                   5/7, Wed               Baseline ultrasound and bloodwork (delayed if period has not yet started)

If baseline is clear and bloodwork is alright:
~CD32                   5/7, Wed             Begin Gonal-F (225 units each night)
          Reduce Lupron to 5 units            
~CD37                   5/13, Tues           Bloodtest (after 5 days of stimming)
~CD37-39                                         Continue stimming
~CD39-44             CD42: 5/17, Sat  The average length of stimulation is 7-12 days

Once appropriate response in reached:
~CD42                   5/17, Sat              Ovidrel around midnight (exact time from office)
~CD44                   5/19, Mon           Egg Retrieval
~CD49                   5/24, Sun             5 Day transfer
~CD56                   5/31, Sat              7dpt (test)
           Due: 2/19/2015
           13 weeks: 8/4/14 (convenient date for travel)