Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking Back and Looking Forward Infertility Style

This year has been a whirlwind of emotion, struggle and ultimately, defeat. For women suffering from infertility, the holidays are always horrible. For me, this year, I feel it doubly so. I want to recap what I've been through this year, just to slam it all into perspective.

November 2011: Doctor informed me that I have to wait two more months before I can start treatment. This was a horrible setback, since he had set me up to believe we could start right away.

Jan 2012: Our first IUI cycle. We go in with high hopes, as most IUI patients do. I think to myself, "Well, they are putting the sperm where it has to go, so how hard could it be?" I had no idea then. I find out the cycle was a bust on Feb 7th.

Feb 2012: Our second IUI cycle. This one goes over much better than the last. I have more follicles (three!), and the husband has a better sperm count. I am more optimistic than before, hoping that more is better. On March 9th, a day after my birthday, I find out that the cycle didn't work. Onwards.

March 2012: Our third IUI cycle. This time, I have four follicles, and the husband's count is okay. I'm not as optimistic. I get into the office on the insemination day only to find out that I have already ovulated three of the four follicles. I try to cling to some hope, but find out April 10th that the cycle hasn't worked. At this point, the doctor suggests that I move on with IVF. The nurse calls me at work and asks me to make a decision. I remember crying in the back office, asking myself how I am going to get through IVF, but ultimately make the decision to do so, as it's the next logical step. They start me on birth control right away, with no breaks between the IUI and IVF.

May 2012: Our first IVF attempt. I think to myself, "They are growing my baby outside of me and putting it back in, right where it has to go. How hard could it be?" I see now I should stop asking myself that question. This cycle goes over less than ideal. I go to my retrieval in a ton of pain, and when I wake up, they tell me they only got three eggs. Two of the three have fertilized, and they put the two back two days after the retrieval. On June 7th, I learn that our first attempt has failed.

June 2012: I am put back on birth control for our second attempt. I keep trying to tell myself what other seasoned IVFers have told me: the first time is an experiment. It's more likely to happen the second time.

July 2012: IVF #2. Meds are adjusted as they think I ovulated early the first time around. They keep me on Lupron longer to suppress ovulation. The doctor has hope for me and expects to retrieve 7-10 eggs. I go into my retrieval without any pain at all, and when I wake up, I am told again that they only got three eggs. The nurse tells me as I am waking up that I should think about losing weight, and that my follicles are collapsing before they can get to the eggs. I cry the whole way back home. Only one of the eggs fertilizes, and they put it back two days after the retrieval. I have very low hopes from this point on. I just know that it isn't going to work, and worse off, I'll have to put myself through this again, since I have no frozen embryos. I find out on August 10th that this cycle has failed.

August 2012: My doctor tells me that my egg quality is suffering due to my weight. He also tells me to go home and lose thirty pounds before they will try again, unless I want to look into donor eggs. I am sent home, now feeling guilty that I am the cause of my infertility. I settle in for my first unmedicated cycle in almost a year. I remain hopeful that I can do this on my own. Fifty days go by without any ovulation. I call in for a provera script to end the cycle. I also decide, toward the end of this month, that being told to go home and lose weight is not acceptable, and I arrange for a second opinion.

September 2012: I seek that second opinion and find it at a new clinic. The doctor there doesn't think anything is wrong with my egg quality, and instead, the protocols used on me the last two times weren't ideal for me or my eggs. He tells me about what he plans on doing, and does caution that if this cycle goes awry again, that I  might have to look into donor eggs -- but he really doesn't think that's the case. I decide to leave FCM and join SGF.

October 2012: I am put on birth control right away to start IVF attempt #3. I have also managed to lose almost fifteen pounds since August.

November 2012: IVF #3. This time it goes over much better than the first time. I remember laying on the table looking at the ultrasound monitor and seeing all my follicles. The nurse tells me that when I get closer to retrieval time, I'll have to take a nap while they count all the follicles. I nearly cry in joy and relief to see that I am not as dysfunctional as my previous clinic made me feel like. I actually feel like there could be some home. At retrieval time, I wake up in lots of pain and immediately worry that I ovulated early somehow. Getting to the hospital is even more painful, and when I woke up from surgery, I was in tears because the pain was so bad. My doctor himself comes to tell me that they retrieved eighteen eggs. In my drug-induced happy state, I can't stop telling my husband that they retrieved eighteen eggs, and that nothing was wrong with me after all. Out of the eighteen eggs, fifteen are mature and nine of those fertilize with ICSI. All nine of them make it to day five, and we choose to put back one and freeze the rest. I actually have something to freeze this time around! But, I find out December 3rd that IVF #3 didn't take, and I'm crushed again. This time, I take comfort in the fact that I have frozen embryos, and I won't have to do another fresh cycle.

December 2012: I've come such a long way since my IUIs. My doctor tells me that he thinks I should do another fresh cycle to change the medications slightly and stockpile more embryos, but I choose to move on with a frozen embryo transfer (FET) instead because I am mentally and physically exhausted. The other doctor informs me that I qualify for a study they are doing on endometrial biopsies on women with implantation failure, and how it increases the chances of implantation. I agree to be in the study. We also decide that we will be putting back two embryos this time around, since nothing else has worked so far. I start birth control again on December 10th and have my first biopsy done on December 20th. My next new cycle is expected to start the first week of the new year, and then it's back to waiting and hoping. Oh, I've also lost twenty pounds by this point.

And that brings me to today, December 31st...New Year's Eve. I thought by now, I'd have a baby of my own. I thought way back in January that an IUI would work, and I'd be okay. Gosh, how off I was from the truth of the situation. For eleven straight months, with only one unmedicated cycle in that time, I have been going through some sort of ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology).  Eleven months. I would have never, ever thought I'd be here, with empty arms, eleven months later. Three IUIs later. Three IVF attempts later. Nothing.

It's horribly depressing, but at the same time, I am trying to look forward. I have my frozen embryos. We are going to put back two. I have a new doctor who knows a protocol that works best for me, so even if I have to do a new fresh cycle at some point, at least I know it will not be a complete bust. I had one doctor pretty much tell me that I couldn't get pregnant using my own eggs, and my new doctor showing me that there's nothing wrong with my egg quality at all.

I am in a much better place mentally as well. Last year was very trying for me. This year, I have a new school to teach in with co-workers who are supportive and interested in what I am going through. My principal gives me a hug whenever I see her now, and she tells me that it will happen for me. Even some of my male co-workers check in on me, when I know they could not be any less interested, haha.

My husband has a better job now. He's happier too. We are in a better place financially, and though we haven't managed to sell our house yet, we have paid down our mortgage so it seems more feasible and less impossible.

And most of all, I have my husband. Yesterday, we celebrated our two year anniversary. For the past week, we've been on our very belated honeymoon, which was awesome. But, I can't help but to think, through everything we've been through, and everything I'm going through, he still stands by me and supports me. As corny as it sounds, he is my rock, my stability, and my support. No woman should have to go through what I am going through, but I am thankful every day when I remember that I have a husband who is willing to go through it with me.

Hopefully, in February, I'll be able to look back at this post knowing that all I've done has come to fruition. Hopefully, I'll have some good news then and won't have to start up another cycle. But even if I do, I know I'll be okay. As my therapist repeats to me over and over again: I will be a mother. It might not happen the way I thought I would, but it will happen.

It will happen.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

When You Know You Are Crazy

This is how you know you are crazy...

I have been on a cruise for the past seven days. I have also been spotting light pink off and on. On Christmas day, my mouth tasted like metal, and I had my husband check to see if it was bleeding for some reason. But nope. I also start feeling sickish this night. It's not really nausea, but I didn't feel like eating. I thought back to a couple of weeks ago when I was wondering if I had ovulated on the birth control because I had ovulation signs. I had a cheap pregnancy test in my suitcase from like a year ago, and I thought "What the hell! I'll give it a shot." So, I peed on it and left it to develop...but then we ended up going out for Christmas. I didn't get back to the test until some time later, and when I did, I found this:

So, there's a faint line, but, I can't trust it because it is past its time, and it could be an evaporation line. So, I put it out of my mind and keep it to myself. A couple of days later, the pink spotting comes back. I decide to tell my husband. We joke about how ironic it would be, since I'm on birth control and we weren't trying at all. In the back of my mind, I think of what a miracle it would be.

Fast forward a day. At night time, I start feeling sick again. This time, though, I feel like I am actually going to get sick. I almost do, twice, and spend some time on the bathroom floor in front of the toilet, just in case. It's not sea sickness, as the boat was sailing smoothly, and really, it was just happening at night time. I get into bed and somehow fall asleep.

The next day (or was it the same day?), I have to pee every half hour. It is annoying, and I start to wonder if I should go see the ship's doctor. Eventually, at night, it stops. The spotting continues. My husband asks me if I'm still having symptoms, and I tell him I am, but try to put it out of my mind. At this point, though, I'm really starting to wonder.

Today was our last day of the cruise. We pulled into port, went home, and I went to the drug store to get a test. I take the test.

Nothing. Nothing at all. No line.

It was crazy to think about anyway. That sort of think doesn't happen to me. I am not one of those miracle stories. But for a little while, my husband and I had hope, despite the overwhelming odds against us.

If I ovulated, I have no idea what day it happened. I just know a window. That first test I took would have been around 7 DPO, pretty early for a BFP. By now,  five days later, if I was pregnant, my levels should be enough to have a good, solid line. But instead, I have a blank test.

Tonight is the last night I take birth control, then I go into the doctor's later on this week for my baseline appointment and my second biopsy. All I can do is move forward, even if this feels like some sort of cruel joke.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Do You Believe?

I forgot about the psychics I had spoken to over the summer. The one of them said that when it comes to my TTC, that the number four kept coming up, then the number two. At first she said something about four babies, and I just laughed at her, but then she told me she definitely sees two happening at once, and maybe four all together.

The second psychic told me that I'd find out I was pregnant in January, and that we'd have a very independent, self-starter little boy.

Last night, I was thinking about this and realized I have FOUR embryos frozen, and we are transferring back TWO. And, we will be finding out sometime at the end of January if it worked or not.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Biposy #1 Done

I have to say, with the exception of the pain on the morning of my last egg retrieval, and the pain right after it...this biopsy was the most painful procedure I've been through so far. I squirmed and moaned in pain, and although it lasted about thirty seconds, that was thirty seconds too long. I cramped up for a little while after that, and it hurt to drive back to work. I'm feeling better now, but I'm still crampy.

That really sucked, and to top it all off, in two weeks, I'll have to do it again.

I keep telling myself this will all be worth will all be worth it...

But at the same time, I keep asking myself what sane person puts themselves through this much torture.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

WTF Appointment #3: Options

Today, I had my WTF appointment with Dr. W.. She went over some new details and options that I hadn’t previously known about.

I immediately asked her about my egg quality, since I was so worried that my previous doctor had told me that my egg quality may be bad. She said that my results for my past IVF were typical of a woman my age with PCOS, so that was good news to hear. Of the four embryos that I have frozen, three are rated “good” and one is rated “fair.” She told me about a former patient that she had that only ever had successes on her FET cycles. All of her children have come from her frozen embryos from one IVF attempt. She has a boy, a girl, and a set of twins. :)

Next, I asked her about intralipids again. I brought this up to Dr. Y. before, and he was sort of dismissive about it. I’ve later learned that Shady Grove in general is pretty dismissive about autoimmune issues. There is a growing theory that failed implantation and recurrent miscarriages are caused by the body’s NK cells to attack the embryo as if it was an invader, much like your body would attack germs, for instance. Some clinics offer intralipid infusions about a week before transfer to deactivate the NK cells and give time for the embryo to implant. My clinic does not offer this option, but, I can order intralipids online, if I can find a nurse who’d be willing to administer the infusion for me.

Dr. W. told me that Dr. Y. might give me a script if it would put my mind at ease, but they don’t do the infusions in the office. But then, she told me about another option that has been recently (within the last year) offered to women with implantation failure. She explained that their practice has been doing endometrial biopsies shortly before the transfer date. By causing minor trauma to the lining of the uterus, the body redirects its attention to the site of the trauma, so more blood flow enters the uterus, and the lining is nice and plush and thick. She said that although the study has only been done with thirty women, the practice is really starting to believe it to have some positive effect on the process, and most of their patients had met with success. She told me that it wouldn’t hurt to try, so if she talks with Dr. Y. and he thinks I qualify for the procedure, we will add that to my timeline.

Dr. W. sounded very positive about this and this outcome of my next attempt. She told me that women my age have the same change of success with a fresh IVF cycle as they do with a frozen embryo transfer, and that if I am putting back two this time, that my success rate will be higher.

I told her that I was getting frustrated, and sometimes I wish I would have had one confirmed pregnancy, just so I knew it wasn’t impossible. She knew where I was coming from and assured me that they are going to keep doing their best by me.

So, my next appointment is on 1/3. From 12/23 to 12/30  I’ll be on my honeymoon in the Bahamas. I’m going to allow myself to rest up and prepare for what will hopefully be my last time doing this. Yay!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Falling Stars

Tonight and tomorrow there will be a meteor shower. On the way home, I caught two, very bright falling stars. I wished for a baby on both of them. I hope one of the two wishes comes through for me. Or both.

Two falling stars.

A sign of things to come, you think?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Strange Dreams and Some Musings

Last night, I had strange dreams about a period from hell that destroyed my friendships. Don't ask. This is most likely because my new cycle has started with a vengeance, especially with a whopper of a migraine on Thursday night which had me down and out for the count.

I've been thinking about my choice to transfer back two embryos. For those of you playing along, when you transfer back two, there's an 80% chance of pregnancy and a 50% chance of twins. I will be happy with just one baby. I do not mind two babies, but it scares me. It scares me because I don't have family that lives by me, so I don't have that support to help me with that.

We are also stuck in a little, tiny house that we want out of so badly. If we have twins, I'll have to convert all of my office into a nursery, thus leaving me without an office. With just one baby, we were going to convert half the office into a nursery, since I need my writing space if I want to, you know, continue my writing career.

And don't even get me started about day care...

These are logistical things, and I am not stressing out about them because every twin mom I've spoken to has told me that they've "worked things out" and everything was fine for them in the end. I think that is true in our case. Just as long as I get a healthy baby (or two), I'll work it out somehow.

My other concern is that I always wanted to be pregnant more than once. I don't want to go through the experience one time and hang it up. Lots of people like to say, "Well, if you have two, you can get it all out of the way!" And I find that to be insensitive. That's not how all women view it. I don't want to "get it out of the way." I?

After everything I've been through, part of me thinks of how I might have to bring myself to go through it all over again for another baby. Maybe it would be best to "hang it up" if we have twins, and pursue our dream of adopting instead. I don't know. It's a concession that, in my mind, I'm starting to seriously contemplate.

I told my husband that I seriously do not want to go back on birth control in the future. I don't want to stop my body from doing what it already can't do. Does that make sense? I want the chance to always be there, because it was never there for me so far. I'd love a baby to happen naturally. I really would. This is another reason I don't want to "hang it up." It's a desire that is deeply rooted in me right now. Sure, I'll be SO BLESSED with an IVF baby. So blessed. And I wonder if other women who have gone through the throes of IVF feel the same way about this...but there's something about the need to just be able to do it on my own that continues to grow deep inside me, and I can't ignore it.

 Yesterday, when I was walking back to my classroom, my principal was in the hallway. We really didn't have the chance to talk since I told her the IVF attempt failed. She said nothing to me, but held her arms out to hug me, and hugged me for a good moment. Then, she said, "It will happen. I know it will." And I told her what I echo in my head every time I am feeling defeated. I tell her about a friend of mine who had to go through IUIs to get her son. She said to me that in a way, she was happy that her previous IUI attempts had failed, because if they didn't, she wouldn't have the son that she currently has. She wouldn't have *that* boy.

It's a beautiful way of looking at all of these set backs so far. Maybe the four  embryos I've gone through so far just weren't meant to be my baby. Maybe God has planned for all these failures so that when I do succeed, I am succeeding with the exact baby that was meant for me and my husband. And that baby (or babies) will be so wanted and welcome when it happens.

There's my wisdom for today.

Don't let bad periods ruin your friendships.

Friday, December 7, 2012

FET Schedule

Because Kali asked so nicely:

12/10 - Start BCP
12/30 - Stop BCP and call with first day of new cycle
1/3 - Baseline Appointment
1/3 - Start Estrogen shots. I'll take these every three days.
1/14 - Ultrasound for lining check
1/16 - Start progesterone shots
1/21 - Expected Transfer Date

Of course, these are all subjective to how well I do, so it might not fall exactly on those dates.


FET Cycle!

Well, I am starting my FET cycle on Monday. I'll be on birth control for three weeks, then the real cycle will begin.

Now that I am moving forward again, I'm feeling so much better about everything. The doctor also suggested we try transferring two this time, since I've not met with success from any of my other treatments.

Here we go again!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What Now?

So, I disappeared for a good day or two. This was good for me. I know I left you with a bomb of a post, but I was emotionally distressed, which all came to a head yesterday when I had a nice little nervous breakdown. But, I am feeling much better now. Mostly.

Except the fact that I've been nauseous and light-headed all day long. It started in the morning at school. I was so sure I was going to puke all over my classroom that I grabbed paper towels and moved the trashcan closer to my desk. I was shaking too. I forced myself to eat my mangoes for lunch and drink some water, which stopped the shaking, but the nausea continued and still continues now. I don't have a temperature.

I stopped the progesterone and estrogen on Monday, after it was confirmed that I wasn't pregnant. I have never felt this way after stopping progesterone before, but at the same time, I've also never been on estrogen, so I'm curious if maybe withdrawing from the estrogen is what is making me feel sick? I don't know. It's just a theory.

Or, maybe it's some left over effects from my meltdown yesterday. I woke up with a headache this morning, then slept for another hour or so, and it went away for a little while, then started to come back. I took some excedrin and then it disappeared for good.

Anyway. Enough of that. You may be asking "what now?"

I think part of why I was so upset yesterday was because I hadn't come to that decision yet. The doctor suggested doing a brand new, fresh transfer. His theory is that now that he could see what was going on, and how I responded, that he believes I'm just a slow responder, and he would like to do the same protocol with lower doses over a longer period of time. Okay. I get that. I understand it. But, I do not want to do it.

So, I decided that I will prepare myself for a FET, or a frozen embryo transfer. I would like to transfer two this time, to increase my chances of pregnancy, since I have not managed to get pregnant after transferring two embryos on day two, one embryo on day two, and one blastocyst on day five. That pretty much bumps me into the category of "advanced maternal age" women as far as suggestions on how many to transfer back for the best chance of success. I think Dr. Y. will probably agree with transferring two back, if he doesn't suggest it to me first, that is.

I am happy with this decision, and I'm confident in it because I've also been doing lots of research about estrogen levels and successful implantation. I think this would be best, since my body can "even out" and my hormones won't be out of whack.

There are two options for FETs, a natural FET and a medicated one. A natural FET allows the woman to ovulate on her own and produce her own hormones. This sounds good, except that my cycles aren't normal, and I don't always ovulate on my own -- which is the whole cause of my infertility. Unless they gave me Clomid, it'd be anyone's guess on how long my cycle would actually be.

A medicated FET would mean that I'd have to take estrogen and progesterone, and start out the cycle with birth control pills, most likely. I'd also take Lupron or an antagonist shot to stop myself from ovulating. Yes, that means more needles, but it is way, way less than what I was doing before. I'm okay with this. It also means way less appointments, as I'll only go in a couple of times to make sure I'm not ovulating, and to see if my lining is thick enough to transfer.

I will know more about this when I talk with my nurse, and she can speak with my doctor. I have to call her when my new cycle begins, which should happen tomorrow. My temperature has gone from 98.8 to 98.3 in the last two days, so it's bound to end sometime.

And then we move forward. :)

Thank you for all of your support, and please understand that sometimes I write my posts while in a heightened emotional state. That's what my blog is here for -- to document ALL of my journey, even the sad, irrational parts that I wish weren't a part of it. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Officially Not Pregnant...Again.

And it didn't hurt any less being told so either.

The nurse didn't call me. My doctor called me. He said, "I am sorry, I don't have good news." I told him I already knew. Then, he asked me what insurance I had. I told him, and he asked me what my IVF coverage was like. I informed him that I am covered, in full, up to 100,000 in my lifetime. I'm beginning to realize now, what a small, small number that is. And I think, so does Dr. Y.. His suggestion to me is to do a whole, new, fresh cycle, instead of transferring the frozen embryos. His reasoning is that if I go through my coverage allotment, frozen embryo transfers (FETs) are a lot less cheaper to pay out of pocket than fresh cycles. I think his hurt me more than hearing that I definitely wasn't pregnant. I don't want to do this again. I don't have it in me to do it again...

He also said that he wants to change up my protocol a little more. Something about using lower doses for a little longer, and keeping the Lupron trigger. I also do not want to do this. I don't want to have to give myself shots every night for any longer than I did before.

I don't know what to do. I can't think straight right now anyway.

Why do I have to be such a broken person?

What did I do to deserve this? Surely, I am not being punished for no reason, right? So what did I do?

Please tell me, so I can make some sense of this.

What did I do?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Pre Beta Day

I took off tomorrow. Although I am feeling a little better about the fact that this didn't work, I still wanted to have the day to myself. This way, I can grieve and not have to put on a happy face the whole day, while my heart is breaking.

I don't think I am going to take my progesterone shot tonight. There really isn't a point. I used my last digital test this morning, and the oh-so-rejecting words "NOT PREGNANT" showed up. You know, just to remind me by kicking me in my gut that I am still not pregnant.

Sometimes, I go into a dark and bitter place. [Edited to remove this part due to continued melodrama. This is my blog, not yours. This post is about me, not you.]

And then I get even more bitter that more friends of mine are getting pregnant, and I'm being left behind...watching their happiness while I suffer in my sorrow. Sometimes, it is so hard to be happy for others when you are just so sad inside.

We are now going on 26 months of trying to conceive. 26 months ago, I thought this was going to be easy. I could have a two year old by now. Instead, I have nothing to show for but these blog posts and an empty dream that feels like it is never going to happen.

I know I need to remain positive, but sometimes, it is too difficult.

Friday, November 30, 2012

When the Third Time Isn't the Charm

I have been trying to figure out how to write this post since last night. At first, I wanted to be bitter. I wanted to say how it isn't fair that some other people, who haven't been through half of what I've been through have their positive pregnancy tests (BFPs), and I don't have mine.

I wanted to be angry because, once again, my body has failed. me. My baby has gone through a good portion of it's development in a petry dish, and I STILL couldn't manage to grow it the rest of the way.

I wanted to be sad, because I had believed in this cycle so much...and for what?

I won't lie. I'm a piece of these and a little bit more.

As I was lying on the acupuncture table last night, I asked my acupuncturist to listen to my pulse. They can tell, through your pulse, if you are pregnant or not. It was kind of my last hope. I was wanting her to tell me that she thinks I'm pregnant. Instead, she listened to it and only remarked, "It is strong, but we have to calm your heart down." It was beating a mile per minute. I just knew, from her tone, that she didn't think I was pregnant. As soon as she left the room, I broke down in such helpless, uncontrolled sobbing.

When you suffer from depression, you have the unfortunate experience of your thoughts running away from you. Your mind does its own thing. I fell into a complete anxiety attack, and my thoughts escaped me, and I could not control them. What did I do wrong? Why am I not good enough? How can other women just get pregnant on their own, and why can't it be me? On, and on, and on.

I could hear my therapist's words, about how my thoughts are something of their own, and if uncontrolled, can trigger a downward spiral. So, I desperately went through every "tool" in my coping box to try to stop them. I used the questions that I was given on the day of my transfer: Are these thoughts helping me? No. Are they necessarily true? No. Is there a different way of thinking about this? Yes.

But it stopped there. I went right back to sobbing.

So, I broke out my next tool. Grounding. I reminded myself where I was physically. I was wearing a blue shirt. I was wearing jeans. My purse is black. I have two needles in each of my ears. There is a lamp in the room...

I know this sounds stupid. But, it works.

Once I calmed down again, I started to count the ceiling tiles. I counted them over and over and over again until the thoughts were gone, and I was calm.

Then I went back to the questions. Are these thoughts helping me? No. Are they necessarily true? No. I still have a few more days, anything can happen. Is there a different way of thinking about this? Yes. Although this time might not be a success, I was lucky enough to have four embryos make it to freeze. That means, unlike the other two failed IVFs, I do not have to start all over again. I don't have to go through the whole, horrible process from the top. I am blessed in that regard.

So, when I woke up this morning to find another negative test at 13 DPO, I knew that this was likely over. And I also knew that I can't mope about it. I can grieve, and I can be disappointed, sure. But, I also have to keep reminding myself that I have four more chances without having to ever go through another fresh cycle. And for this, I am so, so, so very grateful.

I also have read that when your estrogen level is as high as mine was, that there may be less success in implantation. In fact, at some clinics, it is protocol to "freeze all" if your estrogen is too high, which means that they freeze all the embryos and wait until your levels have dropped to do a transfer. In this way, FETs (or frozen embryo transfers) often prove more successful than a fresh IVF. So, when I go in for my FET, my estrogen won't be off the charts, and my body will be a much better incubator then.

I will be okay. I really will. I thank you for all your prayers and your support, and I ask you to continue to pray, just in case of some sort of miracle. Thor might not have made it, but my other embryo Avengers will. :)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cryo Report

I forgot to update with my cryo report. The nurse called me today to tell me that they were able to freeze four embryos total. I guess the others didn't make it another day, or they weren't good enough to freeze. I will get a cryo report in the mail, and maybe that will tell me more.

I am so, so, so happy about this. This means I have four more chances, or two more chances if we decide to transfer more than one in the future. It also means that if this cycle fails, I won't have to go through the torture of a whole, new fresh cycle. This also takes a huge, giant burden off of me. I was simply terrified the last two cycles because I had no back up embryos. I had nothing. It meant that I had to submit myself physically and emotionally to a whole, new, fresh IVF cycle. And just thinking about having to go through it again after my last cycle was so devastating.

But now, I have four embabies all snugged up and bundled in a freezer in Towson. They will either be siblings for Thor, or they will be my next opportunity to get this show on the road. I much prefer the first option. :)

I am going to ask tomorrow to see when I get my flash drive filled with pictures, too. They didn't tell me that I was excluded from the study, so hopefully it still happened. For those of you who don't remember, I volunteered to take place in a study where the embryos are monitored under a special camera that tracks their growth every twenty minutes. Usually, embryos are checked on once a day, which involves them having to be moved from their incubator to the microscope. This study is not only to document embryo growth patterns, but also to see if they do better if they aren't moved. I am all about science and forwarding it, especially when it comes to possibly helping other women who are suffering what I am.

There. You were spoiled with two updates today. One slightly less cranky than the other. :)

9 DPO: I'm still here.

I've found that people get worried when I don't update my blog with lots of details. Of course, I did post a little while ago that I wasn't going to blog as much after my transfer because there are some things I want to keep to myself.

With IVF, it's hard to keep anything to yourself. For example, most of the staff I work with knows what I am going through because I've had to inform them of my impending frequent latenesses and absences. They have been very excited for me, but this also means that they will be asking about it, and then what do I do? Just lie to their face so I can keep the results under wraps for a little while? It's definitely not as easy as a "normal" pregnancy, where you find out and can keep it between you and your spouse for a whole trimester. I am not afforded that luxury.

I have been a bit irritable with FF lately, and I'm thinking of going off grid for the rest of the week. The passive aggressive crap toward my decision to start testing now has grated on my nerves this morning. Someone actually had the nerve to ask me, "Aren't you supposed to wait with IVF so you don't get a false positive?"

Excuse me? Are you trying to tell /me/ what I should do during IVF? Me? The one who has been through it twice already? I think I understand the dynamics of when I should test. I also understand I can't get false positives this time around because I DID NOT USE THE HCG TRIGGER. I also understand it is early -- which people love to point out and lecture me, even if I give them absolutely no reason to -- please do keep your opinions to yourself. When you go through this sort of thing (and I hope to God none of you have to), then you can lend me your advice.

Maybe I am being moody. This is very possible. Aside from FF, I have been keeping very positive. My friend lent me her hypnobabies pregnancy affirmation program, and I have listened to it before bedtime. I might not be officially pregnant yet, but I'm going to treat myself like I am and stay in that mindset. I've been surrounding myself with positive thinking, and when something or someone becomes negative, I remove myself from it all together.

I joke around with the husband and say to him, "Do you think this is good for me and Thor?" It's a running joke in our household now. Referring to myself and Thor just reminds me that I am technically carrying my baby right now. He just has to stick and hold on for the ride.

Nothing else has been happening, really. Just waiting, praying and hoping. No real symptoms aside from some cramping yesterday and feeling "off" though I can't pinpoint what "off" actually is. I don't read into symptoms much anyway. If I had to take 10,000 units of HCG with a 5,000 unit booster and I never had symptoms from that, I doubt I am going to have symptoms this early in the game.

There's your update. I'll peek back in sometime this week, maybe.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Some pictures!

They didn't give me embryo pictures yesterday, but I forgot to post these, so here you go:

This is the card they gave me to get through the two week wait. I thought it was very thoughtful.

And this is my embryo report card. My baby's first report card. Hahahaha.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I am PUPO!

I am PUPO! That's the term us ladies in the IVF community use after a transfer. PUPO = Pregnant until proven otherwise. What a wonderful feeling, to be technically pregnant. To know that right now, I am carrying around my little embryo. <3

I will start at the top of the day. The embryologist called me at 7 am to tell me that not only is my transfer still scheduled as planned, but all nine of my embryos made it to day five. We were both so happy about this because it is such a rare occurance, and I wasn't expecting it to happen, really. In my mind, I was trying to be a realist and kept telling myself that only 30% of embryos make it to a day 5 transfer...and here I am, defying the odds. 100% of mine made it. Not only are they defying the odds, but I also can't help but to think back to my previous RE who was trying to tell me that my egg quality was bad due to my weight, and that we couldn't move forward until I lost about thirty pounds. There was nothing wrong with my eggs at all. In fact, B and I make beautiful, healthy embryos.

The best embryo was picked to transfer today. Two blastocysts were taken to be frozen already. The others will be watched for another day or two, and then the ones that are still going strong by tomorrow will be frozen. So, I already have at least two on ice. I could potentially have nine on ice. I won't know until next week, sometime.

I was so happy this morning. B said that he is going to call the embryo we put back "THOR." I told him that name is not carrying over to our baby, but he's enjoying the nickname none-the-less.

Before we left, I prepped the pie and the card that I bought for the staff at SGF. Inside the card, I wrote, "We are thankful for you giving us hope." Then, I took a sports bottle filled with water (the procedure has to be done on a full bladder to get the best ultrasound image) and we head out.

A pumpkin pie.
Thank You Card and Pie

B hates taking pictures. I asked him to look happy as we head out to our big day, and this is what I got. Hahaha.
Our doggie, Sailor, was happy, though. :D

When we got to the hospital, we went up to the center's office so I could drop off the pie and the card. The secretary was so grateful and wished me luck at my transfer. I didn't want to linger in there too long because there were other patients in the waiting room, and I have to be mindful of whatever they might be feeling today too. While I might be happy and joyful, I have no idea what their situations are. So, we scooted out and down to the women's surgery center.

A nurse escorted us right back into one of the patient rooms. I changed into my hospital gown, and she came back to tell me that it was going to be about another hour since there were three retrievals ahead of me, and that I could feel free to use the bathroom in that time, but not to when it got closer to the procedure. I immediately got up to use the restroom, since I have a tiny bladder, and I was already uncomfortable from chugging all that water.

Within that hour, I used the restroom three times. Hahahaha. I am the worst at keeping a full bladder. B kept yelling at me, telling me it was too close to the end of the hour, but I just couldn't hold it. I snuck out the last time, then hurried back to my room and chugged more water. While waiting for the doctor, I got to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on the little TV!

My hospital footies (with traction on the bottom!)
Al Roker and the piss-poor actor from Chicago Fire

Dr. K. was my doctor today. He came in and brought me my "embryo report card" as he called it. The report card said that we retrieved 18 eggs, 9 fertilized, 0 fertilized abnormally, and 9 have made it to day five. He was very pleased with this. He pointed at the part that said one would be transferred back today, and that one is rated "HA-BG" or "Hatching Blastocyst  of Good Quality." "Good" is the higest rating they can get, so he said that the embryo was perfect. B and I had to sign the report card, and then it was go time!

Me and my full bladder (despite the fact that I used the restroom five minutes before this) walked back to the tiny transfer room located by the operating rooms. I passed by other ladies who were just out of their retrievals and all hooked up on machines while they recovered and said a little prayer for them. Then, we went into the teeny-tiny room that sits next to the IVF lab.

I climbed up onto the stretcher and they put a pillow under my bottom to elevate my hips and my downstairs business to the most uncomfortable and unflattering position ever. Then the transfer got started. The embryologists came in and had me verify my name and date of birth, then the doctor got everything set up "down there" which was awful both because my bladder was full and one tech was holding the ultrasound wand against my pelvis, and also because I don't think my cervix was cooperating, and the doctor couldn't get the catheter in. So, I had the unpleasant experience of him needing to use a little clamp that opens up the cervix...and that sucks. At this point, he knew I was not a happy camper and promised this was as uncomfortable was it was going to get. I asked what the big, black space on the monitor was, and he said, "That's your bladder. Please do not empty it right now." And we all laughed...which hurt to do. But it was funny. I told him I'd try.

The embryologist came back with my embryo in  this long pipette attached to a syringe, and I watched on the monitor as it was inserted into my womb, right next to the wall. At that very moment, I was, in all medical terms, pregnant. After the lab confirmed the embryo was out of the tubing, I was disconnected from everything, covered up and wheeled back to my room for a resting period of around fifteen minutes.

During this time, I closed my eyes and envisioned my embryo floating to my uterine lining and sticking there. Make yourself comfortable, Thor. It's going to be a long stay.

After the resting period, I got dressed, hugged my nurse, and B and I headed back home. I ate some soup (because my acupuncturist told me before that eating soups after the transfer helps the womb stay warm and the embryo to implant), let everyone know it went okay, then went to take a three hour long nap.

And now, we wait. SGF provides their patients with a little card attached to a paper that explains positive thinking and how to remain in a positive, healthy mindset during the two week wait. The card is supposed to be read once a day, and has ten ways you can put yourself back into a positive mindset. The paper included three questions about how to challenge negative thoughts, and they were:

1. Is this thought really true?
2. Is this thought helping me right now?
3. Is there another way I could look at this?

What a thoughtful piece of material to give, really. It makes me feel like they actually care. :)

So, here goes nothing, right? I'm so positive right now, because I feel like we've been given a second chance at SGF, and everything has gone well so far. Even if this doesn't work out, I have beautiful, frozen back up embryos to try again with. I won't have to go through a whole new fresh cycle, which is the worst feeling ever, knowing you have to do all the shots and suffer all the stress all over again.

As many have said already. This is my turn. I've waited long enough, and now it's my turn. One of my co-workers told me yesterday, "It sucks you have to go on Thanksgiving, but hey, if this works, you'll forever look at Thanksgiving in a whole new light."

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. <3

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I'm Allowed to Cry

This is what I said to my husband when he asked me why I was standing in the kitchen and crying. He replied, "Everything's going as well as it can." To which I responded with, "I shouldn't have to do all of this!" And then waved to the pills, the syringe filled with progesterone, the sharps box and the alcohol swabs. "I shouldn't have to have a conversation with you discussing if we should put back one or two embryos!"

And I shouldn't.

I found out yesterday that another one of my friends is pregnant. Just after her wedding. I am happy for her, of course, and I am happy with how everything is going for me, but I still can't ignore that big part of me that is jealous of her, and angry at myself for not working the way I am supposed to. Why can't I be like my friends and just get pregnant the normal way? Why do I have to be the one who has to go through all of this to get my baby?

And I don't want to hear anyone tell me, "Well, it will be worth it, and your baby will know how much you wanted it." I'm tired of hearing that. I'm tired of hearing it, and I am sad that my baby had to grow in a petry dish before it could grow in me.

But at the same time, I am glad that right now, I have nine little embryos floating around in a dish in a dark lab in Towson. All nine of these guys might not make it to Thursday to freeze the ones I don't use, but I have them for right now. And if this was thirty years ago, I wouldn't have this opportunity. I would be wallowing in my grief over not being able to get pregnant, month after month after month. And there wouldn't be this option. My nine embryos wouldn't even exist.

I am allowed to cry. I'm allowed to have these moments, because what I am doing is not natural by any means. What I am doing is one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do. I am also still hopped up on hormones; though, I'm down to just two now: estrogen and progesterone. Those are natural, at least. They are also the devil. If you thought I was a hormonal, emotional mess before, you've not seen anything yet.

So, while I might be crying, I am not blind to everything that has gone right for me so far. And I will list them here so I don't forget:

1. My husband. He's come a long way through this process, and though he sometimes doesn't understand feelings and emotion, I know he hurts when he sees me hurt. And I know he wants this too.

2. My friends. Sometimes I find it hard to talk to them about these things, because it makes me feel awkward. But even when I do, they support me and remind me that it will happen, even if it is not right this moment, it will happen.

3. My family. I think they are tied with my friends, really. They've also been really supportive. I told my dad that I had to miss Thanksgiving dinner with him because of the transfer and needing to be on bedrest, and he offered to come down and visit me on Thanksgiving. My mommy also offered to come down and see me on Thanksgiving. And my sister has been leaving not-so-subtle messages on facebook telling me to transfer all nine embryos...which is not going to happen. Haha.

4. My co-workers. I am so glad that I wound up where I am now. Everyone has been so supportive about this process. They ask me questions, they encourage me, and they keep me positive. My principal saw me yesterday and said she was happy I was doing okay after surgery and to keep her updated. I am really blessed that I found somewhere to work where I have this kind of support.

5. My support group. My girls on FF. They have been with me through these last two years, and though some have come and gone, there is always someone there to lift me up when I am down. <3

So, see? I'll be okay. But allow me to be sad every now-and-then, please. I'm prone to breaking out in tears. You've been warned. :P

Day 3 Embryo Update

On day three, an embryo should be around 7-10 cells. My count is as follows:

1 embryo at 5 cells (this one probably won't make it to day 5)
2 embryos at 7 cells
3 embryos at 8 cells
1 embryo at 9 cells
2 embryos at morula stage, which is the stage before a blastocyst. Morulas are 16+ cells. These two are the strongest so far. :)

Tomorrow, the only update I will get is when to come in for my transfer on Thursday. So, I won't know how they are doing until Thursday.

I am surprised I still have all 9 embryos! I suspect that five cell one probably isn't going to make it to a blastocyst, and the seven cells are cutting it close, but still, the numbers are great. Yay!

Monday, November 19, 2012

My First PIO Shot On My Own

Because my husband was being difficult tonight, I did my PIO shot on my own. This is the rather large needle that goes in my butt cheek. So, it's hard enough trying to twist around and keep my butt cheeks relaxed, and it's even harder to stick yourself with a huge needle. But, I did it.

And there was blood everywhere when I was done.


I have to do PIO shots for the next three weeks. When I am pregnant, I will have to continue for another month after that.

Let the bloodshed begin!

How Are My Babies?

Nurse A. called with my update!

She said, on day two, they generally want to see the embryos between two and four cells. Mine are as follows:

1 embryo at 3 cells
5 embryos at 4 cells
2 embryos at 5 cells
1 embryos at 8 cells!!!!!!

She said my embryos are ROCKSTARS and that they are going to do a Thanksgiving transfer. :) B thinks that our 8 cell embryo is a mutant and will have super powers, so if that one continues to grow well, it will probably be the one we put back. :)


Sunday, November 18, 2012


The nurse called early today and said, "I have some very good news!"

Out of 18 eggs, 13 were mature.

Out of the 13, 9 fertilized.

I have 9 embryos!

That is enough, as of right now, to try and push to a five day transfer! Keep in mind, that probably only half of these will make it to five days, but that's nature's way of keeping the strongest and getting rid of the ones that weren't going to be strong enough to hold on anyway.

I will keep everyone updated, of course.

Also remember that after my transfer, I will probably not be updating for a little while. So, you'll have to deal. :)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Egg Retrieval! SUCCESS!

I got 18 eggs!


The surgery went over relatively well. I came in at a pain level of 8 (out of 10). After the surgery, I was at a 9, and was in tears. The nurse gave me some pain medication, and I felt better within five minutes.

The doctor came in soon after that and told me my egg count. I was soooooo happy (and not just because of the pain meds). I recovered pretty quickly, and despite some bleeding while urinating, they released me and told me to keep an eye on things.

I still hurt. I left the hospital at a 4 out of 10, and I'd say it's probably a 5 right now. I'm eating lunch, then going to bed with a heating pad.

But 18 eggs! OMG!

Tomorrow, between noon and 3pm, I will get my fert report to see how the eggs have managed, and now many have fertilized. :)

Thanks for your prayers! Keep on praying, though! I hope all those eggs are mature and fertilize! 

Not off to a good start...

It's like deja-vu from my first IVF cycle. I am in so much pain and discomfort, I can hardly walk. I don't WANT to walk. I want to lie back down in bed and be left alone. :(

The doctor gave me Vicodin for after the surgery. I was never offered pain killers for my previous retrievals, so I have a feeling there is a reason why he is giving me Vicodin. I wish I could take it now -- that's how much I hurt. I'm practically in tears.

I hope this doesn't mean I ovulated on my own. I really, really hope I didn't, or I will be crushed.

We leave the house at 7. My husband's specimen is to be delivered by 7:30. I am to report to the women's surgical center at 8 am. My retrieval will start at 9 am. I should be home by 11am-12pm. I'll probably go to bed right away, so you should all have an update in the early afternoon.

Wish me luck! I don't know how I am going to get to the car at this point, so it will be interesting.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Day 13: Last Bloodwork and Ultrasound...for now.

Ultrasound still looked good. It also still hurt like a bitch. He didn't really look around as much as he did yesterday, though, so it didn't last as long, thankfully.

My E2 came back at a whopping 8241.This is good news and bad news. It's good news because (from what I understand), if my numbers are still rising while I am not taking any stims, that should mean that more eggs are maturing. But, it could also mean that my estrogen is just sky-rocketing and there are some studies out there that say high estrogen levels at retrieval can mean poor quality eggs. So, I don't know how to feel, especially since this also severely increases my chance of OHSS. My nurse emailed me and told me to drink as much gatorade as I can tonight, and to keep doing so after the ER. So, that's what I'll be doing. I swear I've already peed like twenty times today since I've been drinking so much, and my ovaries are pushing on my bladder.

I squeezed in an acupuncture appointment at 1:45 today too, because I am in so much discomfort. I left work early so I could go to it, and the session lasted a little over an hour. It helped, especially with a pain toward the middle of my abdomen, but sitting in the car for nearly two hours afterwards didn't help to keep the pressure off, and now I'm uncomfortable again.

8 am tomorrow is when I go in for the surgery. Send me some good vibes. :) I will update tomorrow afternoon!

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Well, I've triggered! The needle went in well enough, and the lupron has been administered. My little eggs should finish cooking in time for the retrieval! Tomorrow, I go back in for another ultrasound and more bloodwork. I am not looking forward to it since it hurt so much today. I can only imagine what it is going to feel like tomorrow.

Come on, eggggggggggiessssss.

Day 12: U/S and B/W

The ultrasound was super uncomfortable today. So much so, that the doctor apologized for hurting me and havnig to "be rough." It doesn't help that my ovaries are sitting way back, so you can only imagine what has to take place to get a good view of them. Ugh.

But, my follicles are still doing great. The doctor said I might trigger tonight or tomorrow. I think they are leaning toward tonight, but he thinks that my doctor might try to push me one more day, so he didn't want to say for sure. I'll know more this afternoon when my estrogen levels come back. I am hoping it didn't sky rocket up, since that wouldn't be good, but my nurse assured me that they don't cancel cycles this late in the game. Worse comes to worst, I'll have to freeze all my embryos and wait a month for a transfer. But, she said she's really optimistic because this is farther than I've ever gotten before. She could tell that I am nervous as all heck.

I will update this afternoon with the E2 results and whether or not I'll be triggering tonight or tomorrow. I really hope it is tonight. I really, really do.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


OHSS has been in the back of my mind. Especially now, since I'm in lots of discomfort. Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation syndrome happens when your estrogen gets too high. Your abdomen swells with fluids (usually after the retrieval), and your body goes berserk. If it is mild, you can drink lots of Gatorade and hope it goes away. But, if it is severe, you are put into the hospital for 7-10 days with a tube in your abdomen to drain the fluid and an IV to keep you hydrated.

I am 99% sure that I developed OHSS after my last ER. In fact, I think it happened BEFORE the ER, since I was in so much pain, and because they found a whole lot of fluid when they went in to do the collection. Then I had those really, really bad cramps later on in that week, also a sign of OHSS.

I am getting worried about it because my estrogen is pretty high (that is why I have to "coast" or not take my medicine tonight), and my discomfort level is rising as the day (now night) goes on. It hurts to go from sitting and standing, and walking is bothersome. I am almost feeling how I felt before my first ER -- and that was miserable.

Here is hoping all stays well. I'm still really excited!

Day 11: U/S and B/W Almost there!

I woke up this morning feeling rather bloated. Despite the discomfort, I am taking this as a good sign, since bloating means big ovaries, and big ovaries means lots of follicles.

My appointment was at eight in the morning. I went in to a rather busy office. A nurse was trying to explain to a woman who spoke no English that she would be getting an internal ultrasound. That was amusing. I was taken into the exam room and saw Dr. K. today. He's always pretty funny. The lights turned off, and I watched on the screen to see how my progress was going.

What I saw nearly made me cry. Good tears, not bad ones.

There are lots of follicles! They've been keeping track of only six of them until now, but today, he measured most of them, and there are at least fifteen from what I saw. The biggest ones are around 19mm (I thought I saw one that was 21mm), and there are a handful that are around 13-16mm. I think this is when I started to get emotional. I never got to watch my ultrasounds before, so seeing all of those follicles reassured me that it is going to be okay. I couldn't take my eyes off of them. One of those follicles contains a part of my baby, I just know it.

When he was done, I saw the screen with the follicle count, and there were fifteen measured that I could see, unless it went onto another page. Dr. K. told me that we will probably be doing the retrieval on Saturday or Sunday. This is probably to let all those 13-16mm catch up some. They should be around 19mm for the ER. When I asked him how many follicles he saw, he said, "Millions! There were millions of them!" Haha. I'll just ask the nurse when she calls back later today with my E2 numbers.

It is said that each mature follicle (16mm and up) should produce 200 units of estrogen. I an anticipating my E2 to be around 2,000-3,500 or even more than that. Hopefully, it's in that range, since that would mean that my follicles are carrying good eggs. Of course, I'll update later when I get the phone call.

So, if my ER is on Saturday or Sunday, then (if I have enough embryos to make it to a five day transfer), I will be transferring on day of or the day after Thanksgiving. If I can only make it to a day three transfer, then I should go in on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. I'm gonig to take the whole day off so I can stay on bedrest and relax after the transfer.

I am so happy. :)

UPDATE: Nurse S. called back to tell me that my E2 level is...
...4016! Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? Hahaha. She told me that this is GREAT, and that I am not going to take my shots tonight. Instead, I'll take the antagoist shot tomorrow morning, then come back in for another ultrasound and bloodwork. I also asked her how many follicles the doctor measured this time, and she told me he measured at least 25. 25! I was off by ten whole follicles! So, this is great, great, great, great news! Yay!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Day 9: Ultrasound and Bloodwork

I had a really early appointment today. Getting up early sucks.

The ultrasound went well. Dr. Y. was really surprised to see how many follicles are there. He said I still have 20+ on each side, and they are measuring six of those right now. On the ultrasound, they look really great. There are so many! He is happy with how I am progressing and said they'd probably start seeing me more often.

When Nurse A. called me to tell me about my bloodwork, she said my E2 has risen to 1026 and to keep my doses the same for now. I thought I was going to come back tomorrow morning, but they want to see me on Wednesday, probably to let my follicles grow a little more. She doesn't have an estimated egg retrieval date yet, but I am going to guess it'll probably be over the weekend. That also might mean my transfer (if all goes well) will be on Thanksgiving. Wheeeeeee.

But still, I went from 400 and whatever to 1026 in two days! That's great!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Three Shots Now!

Here they are! From left to right: Ganirelix, Gonal-F and Menopur. The trio that will get me my baby!

Day 7: Bloodwork and Ultrasound - Holy Wow.

Last night, around 8pm, I realized I totally forgot to make my appointment for this morning's b/w and u/s. Oops. I called and left a message as soon as I remembered that I had forgotten, but of course, the office was closed by 8pm. So, I made the executive decision to show up at the office ass-early today, at 7am, in hopes that they would have time for me. When I got there, the office was completely empty, except for the receptionist. This is strange, since the mornings are usually busiest at a fertility clinic. That is when you need to get your ultrasounds and bloodwork done, and trust me, there are a TON of women who need this done every day. But today, it's empty. So, of course, they could see me.

 The nurse who saw me today was joking that the schedule must be off, since they are usually very busy on a weekend morning. She took my blood and asked me how I was doing. I told her that I was "feeling it" since this morning I woke up very bloated, and my pelvis feels heavy. As I've already been through this twice before, I know that means that my follicles are a-growin' even if it's still pretty early in my stims.

 After bloodwork was done, I was put into an exam room. Soon after, Dr. W. came in to do my ultrasound. I told her I was excited to see what was going on in there. When the ultrasound began, she measured my uterine lining first, then turned the wand toward my ovaries. The first thing she said was, "Wow!" And there, on the screen, of just one of my ovaries, were lots of round follicles, growing nicely and evenly, from what I could see. She laughed and said, "You are really going to start feeling this soon." To which I replied, "I am already feeling it, trust me." Then she joked around and added, "Well, when it comes time to count ALL of these, you may as well take a nap, since we are going to be here for awhile." That's a great thing to hear, really.

 She also asked me if I was going to freeze any this time. I told her that I want to, but I've never made it that far before. And she said, "Oh yeah. Well, I think you this time around." She checked on my other ovary, and that one is doing just as well as the first. When the ultrasound was over, I asked her how many follicles I have so far. She said the biggest ones are around 11mm at the moment, but I have, at least TWENTY follicles ON EACH SIDE. Of course, she reminded me that all of these probably won't grow or hold mature eggs, but she's very optimistic that a good amount will.

I have never had TWENTY on each side before. At the most, I've only ever had maybe fifteen combined. So, this is great to hear. The doctor said that depending on my e2 levels, they may want to see me back tomorrow, because of how many follicles I have growing.

 She would like to see /any/ rise at all of my e2 level, but of course, if it has sky-rocketed, they will have to drop my dose and keep an eye on me. With this many follicles, OHSS is definitely a factor and something they'll want to avoid. Not to mention, it's something I would like to avoid, as I don't want to end up in the hospital for Thanksgiving. I will update later this afternoon with my estrogen levels. :)

***UPDATE*** My e2 rose to 430, and I now have about six measurable follicles (ones that are big enough at this point to matter). So, that's not so bad! They raised my menopur from one vial to two vials, and I start the ganarelix tonight, then tomorrow morning and every morning after that. So, now I'm at three shots a day. Party on!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Ultrasound and Bloodwork #1

The doctor said these words: "Lots of eggs! You are doing, really, really, really, really well." And then we bumped fists.


More later!

UPDATE: My nurse said that they measured four follicles that are about 5-6mm right now, but I had a bunch of little ones as well that should grow. I'm still waiting for my blood work results. Today, I had to get stuck twice. One draw at the doctor's office, the other at LabCorp for my pre-surgery draw. That's still a week away, so don't get all excited just yet. ANOTHER UPDATE: Blood results are in. My E2 only rose up to 164. Ideally, it's supposed to double everyday, and it obviously did not do this. So, my doctor wants me to up my Gonal-F from 187.5 to 225, and keep my Menopur at the same dosage. I'll go back in on Saturday for more bloodwork, and another ultrasound, and hopefully my e2 will have risen by then.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Video Blog: What I do every night at 7pm

This video is sideways because my droid, although I am recording with the phone vertical, likes to process the video as being horizontal. Stupid phone.

Anyway, this is what I go through every night at 7pm. Soon, I'll start giving myself a shot in the morning too. That's three shots a day for up to fourteen days. Fun stuff, right?


Day 3 bloodwork results

My E2 was 129, which is good! I am going to stay on my current dosages and go back on Thursday for an ultrasound and bloodwork. I'm excited to see what is going on in there! Grow, eggies, grow!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Numbing Fear

I had to get this out of my head and onto paper, so to speak.

Deep down inside, I am terrified of this cycle failing. I have all the hope in the world that it won't, but I am beside-myself-scared that it will. I just keep thinking about how I am going through all of this all over again, and how nothing has worked before -- so why would it work now?

And then I yell at myself for thinking this way. And I wonder if it would be best to just pour myself into this round of IVF and really, truly believe it is going to work. But then I get afraid again, because if I make myself believe it will work, and it doesn't end up working, then I will be as crushed as ever.

I don't know what I should do. Cautiously optimistic makes me scared too. I just don't want my heart to be broken again.

So far, this is not fun.

This is only my second day of stims. I am doing 187.5 iu of Gonal F, and 75 iu of Menopur. So far? It has sucked. Yesterday was my first night giving myself the shots, and an hour later, I had severe cramping, and then developed a headache. Then, my anxiety level went through the roof, and I ended up crying myself to sleep.

 All of today, I've felt sick. I've had a constant headache since the morning, and extreme fatigue. I went home from work a little early so I could sleep it off, but I was woken up from my nap. My anxiety level is still really high, but not as bad as it was yesterday.

I have my bloodwork appointment tomorrow. Hopefully, they will maybe tell me I can lower the doses some, since this is torture already, and I still have 10+ days to go. I am so terribly irritable, and I don't want it to affect my life or my job.

Ugh. I'll update tomorrow with blood test results!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Day 1: Appointment

Today I had my appointment with a doctor at the clinic. She went over how this protocol is going to go, and gave me my schedule of doom. My ultrasound checked out great. I have no cysts. Before the birth control, my AFC was (at least) 42. This time, it was (at least) 48. 48!!!!! And she said that was probably being modest. She's expecting we'll get more eggs this time based off that alone, but we will see. Anything can happen, as we saw my last two attempts.

She said we are going to be more aggressive this time around, and because I'm not on a lupron protocol, we should be able to get more eggs than last time. She suspects I was being over-suppressed my last attempt, and that is why I didn't get a lot of eggs. Hopefully, without the lupron, it will go better this time around. She also mentioned that because I have such a high AFC, that I should respond well to the stims. In fact, I should have responded well to a low dose, and now we will be using higher doses.

Again, I am feeling much more hopeful. Especially because my AFC looks great compared to what FCM said I had my previous cycle (they claimed I only had 10, but my doctor thinks they might count a different way than SGF does).

Oh, and sadly, FCM continued to play run-around games with B and I when it came to getting paperwork/files from them. So, B went into the office today and got the papers from them himself, since they keep claiming (and who knows, it might be true) that they sent us the files in the mail...twice...and they never got to us.  Whatevs!

I'll get my bloodwork results in tomorrow, and I'll start my stims on Sunday if all still looks good. :) Here goes nothing!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Keeping Quiet

For reasons unknown to me, I spent this hurricane-y morning watching You Tube videos of women telling their significant others and their families that they are pregnant. At first, it was cute. But then, it made me angry. I decided to alter my search for women who were dealing with infertility telling their loved ones that they were pregnant. This was much more uplifting to me. I know my husband probably won't react the way I want him to, since he's made of stone and feelings aren't really his strong point, but I really can't wait to see what our parents do when we tell them.

It's for that reason that I am not going to announce any results through my blog this time, be it positive or negative, until my family knows. If it is positive, I want to see their reactions. I want to have that be mine. After all of this work, all of this struggling...I want to relish in that moment, and not have it be spoiled by them finding out through some webpage.

I know a lot of people out there are routing for me, and I appreciate it. I love your support, and I honestly don't know where I'd be without it. So, I hope you respect my decision, and that you understand if I drop off the face of the earth come the end of November. :)

On another note, I haven't updated in a little while, so here goes!

My genetic testing came back, and it turns out I am a carrier of Canavan's Disease. This is a degenerative disease that affects children, usually killing them before the age of ten. It is also usually found in those who have Jewish blood, which I suspect probably lies in my father's side of the family, since we are the closest to Eastern European, as I can trace our family name (which is German) back to Poland. So, surprise! I have Jewish blood!

What does this mean? Well, it doesn't mean much of anything if my husband turns out not to be carrier. But, if he IS a carrier, then it means our children have a 25% chance of having Canavan's. We are currently waiting for his test results, as my IVF cannot go forward without them. If he is a carrier, then we would undergo PGD, which is genetic testing of our embryos. This would allow us to choose the healthy embryos from the diseased ones. We could also find out ahead of time if our embryos are boys or girls, which is sort of strange.

I let my full-blooded sister know, since she has a 50% chance of also being a carrier, and the lab said that's the responsible thing to do! So, that's all said and done. I am still waiting for my husband's results, which should be in this week.

My last birth control pill will be on Nov 1st, unless the hurricane interferes, or if my husband's results don't come back in time, or if our paperwork isn't returned in time. If any of these things goes awry, I will continue on the pills a little longer until all is in place, no big deal.

My stims should start around November 4th, if my ultrasound looks to be good. Hopefully so! I'm ready to get this show on the road!

Another woman from fertility friend, is using SGF as her clinic, and she was also on the protocol I will be on, and she got AMAZING results, with something like 26 eggs harvested. She has given me so much hope! I just know that my choice to switch fertility centers was a good one. I really have faith in this cycle.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Return of the Strange Dreams

I’ve been having very strange, vivid dreams lately that are disturbing and usually wake me up from my sleep.

The other day, I had a dream that my tongue ring fell out in my mouth, and when I reached in to get it, a big chunk of tongue was wrapped around the ring. Then, when I tried to call the doctor to tell him about it, my tongue swelled up so badly that I couldn’t talk. There was also a moment where one of my veneers fell out of my mouth, and my dentist didn’t have time for me to come in to get it fixed.

I believe in dream interpretations, so I looked up what dreaming of one’s tongue meant (apparently, in most cultures, it is something sexual), and I already knew that dreaming of teeth falling out or shattering means that you are insecure about your appearance or something in your life.

Last night’s dream was especially strange, and I woke up being on-edge and anxious because of it. For most of it, I was in a hospital. Something was wrong, but at first, I didn’t know what. I quickly found out that I was in there due to pregnancy stuff. At one point, the nurse came over to me and handed me two ultrasound pictures. In one of the pictures, there was a girl baby, and I was confused because I knew I wasn’t pregnant. The nurse told me it must have been a mistake, since that was my picture.

Just as soon as I accepted that the ultrasound was mine and there must have been some mistake, the doctor came in and pointed out to me that the ultrasound wasn’t mine, and that I wasn’t pregnant. Still, the doctor remained in cheery spirits, and I recognized her (after I woke up), as being my principal from work. She even had my principal’s name.

When the doctor was done checking up on me, the nurse came back and insisted that I rest, and that “between me and you” I was in critical condition. I didn’t know what she was talking about until they moved me to a bathtub and ordered me to stay in it for at least a minute.

It was then that I realized that my feet, in particular my heels, were badly wounded and bloodied, and large scabs were forming on them. From here, the dream gets a little strange, but consisted mostly of me having to stay off my damaged feet, and getting lost in the larger-than-life hospital with my mom, sisters and brother.

When I looked up the images that stuck in my mind the most, this is what I’ve found. I thought it was interesting, if not a little distressing. Just goes to show you what sort of place I’m in, even if it doesn’t surface on the outside.

To see or dream that you are in a hospital symbolizes your need to heal or improve your physical or mental health. You need to get back to the flow of everyday life. Alternatively, the dream suggests that you are giving up control of your own body. Perhaps you are afraid of losing control of your body.
To see your heel in your dream signifies oppression, lowliness, and  vulnerability. The dream may also be a pun on "heal". Perhaps the dream is telling you that you need time to heal and recovery, either emotionally or physically.
To dream of feet bleeding represents some issue in your life that is affecting your moral foundation, or principles.

Friday, October 19, 2012

IVF #3 Protocol At-a-Glance


This protocol is a method for administering medication designed to optimize ovarian response to gonadotropin stimulation.  This protocol may be adapted based on your individual response.
•    Birth Control Pills - 21-day pack (1-2 packs)
•    Ganirelix or Cetrotide syringes.
•    Gonadotropins: FSH (Follistim, Gonal - F, Bravelle) and 75 IU FSH&LH (Menopur)
•    hCG 10,000 IU, one vial, IM - “Trigger” injection. ***
•    Zithromax 500 mg  - two tablets to be taken together at bedtime the night before retrieval.
•    Endometrin 100 mg (#63) - taken vaginally three times a day, to start morning after egg retrieval.
•    Estrace 2mg (#80) - taken orally, twice daily, to start evening of egg retrieval.
•    Prenatal vitamin 1 tablet every day.

Protocol Day


10/14 Start Birth Control Pills - 1 tablet each day for 18 days. 

Day after last birth control pill
* LUPRON EVALUATION* Office visit for Ultrasound and Blood work..  Your nurse will call you in the afternoon with your results and instructions regarding medication doses and follow up appointment.

11/44th day after last birth control pill Gonadotropins are usually started on the 4th day after your last birth control pill.  Your nurse will give you the date to start along with dosing instructions and date to return for follow-up monitoring. * ♦ Once follicles are >14mm (or per physicians orders) you will be given instructions for continuing gonadotropins and beginning Ganirelix/Cetrotide. When instructed, you will take your first dose of Ganirelix/Cetrotide that evening, and starting the next morning you will take the Ganirelix/Cetrotide once a day in the morning until instructed to stop.

11/15-11/17 APPROX
Egg retrieval (approximate date).

3-6 days after retrieval
Embryo transfer  (approximate date).
*Protocol will be individualized hereafter. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Medicine Pick Up

So, for IVF, you literally are given a paper shopping bag filled with medications and unused syringes to use over the course of the cycle. I have to pick these up from a special pharmacy. When I got to the pharmacy today, another woman was picking up her giant bag of medicines too. The pharmacist asked me what I was there for, and I pointed to the other woman's bag and said, "I'm here to pick up my big bag o' medicine too." We all laughed about it and joked that it must be IVF season. It made me feel not so alone.

I also had to awkwardly ask the school nurse if I could keep one of my pre-filled syringes in the locked refrigerator in her office because it had to stay cool. She knows what I am going through and happily agreed, but it still felt strange. Ha.

13 more days of birth control and then it begins.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Please Support The Family Act

The Family Act, if passed, will make it affordable for men and women who are having trouble conceiving to seek out IVF treatment. Please visit this page to learn more, and then contact your local senator and encourage them to support this act. Just to put it into perspective for you, for people whose insurance doesn't cover all or part of IVF treatment, they are paying $10,000+ for each attempt. Success is not guaranteed. This act would reimburse them through tax credit to make up for their out of pocket expenses. I am lucky enough to have great insurance, but I still pay a good amount of money out of pocket when going through IVF. Please take a look and show your support. :)

Click here to learn more about the Family Act.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

AFC Holy Moly!

A good thing about SGF if that you can email back and forth with the nurses. I asked my nurse if I could have my lab result numbers in email, so I can keep track of them. She immediately emailed me back, and my numbers are good! The E2 level is borderline too high, but it isn't abnormal.

What surprised me, though was my AFC, which I explained in one of my other posts. I thought it was at 19, which is wonderful, as my AFC last IVF was only a 10. Turns out, my AFC this cycle isn't is 42! Whaaaaaaat? I had 19 on one side and 23 on the other! Wooooo! This is awesome!

Please see my previous post about AFC and IVF success. :)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Why I am Glad I Changed Clinics

I took out my records again today and looked over the numbers from the last IVF attempt. Upon closer inspection, so many things were not going right, and no one ever told me. Like the following:

1. My antral follicle count was very low. I only had five follicles in each ovary. To put that into perspective for you, yesterday, my antral follicle count in ONE ovary was 19. That means, at best, they could have expected 3-5 eggs. I was never told this. They moved on.

2. As the ultrasounds continued, I was being told that I had around 12 good follicles growing. In actuality, only a few of them were growing. From what I can tell, these were the numbers:

    CD 8: RO - 14, 13, 13, 13, 12 LO- 17, 15, 15, 13, 11, 11
    CD 10: RO - 19, 15, 15, 14, 14, 13 LO - 17, 16, 16, 16, 13, 12, 12
    CD 11: RO -21, 16, 17, 16, 15, 15 LO - 19, 16, 17, 16, 15, 15, 14
    CD 12: RO - 23, 19, 20, 16, 15, 13, 12 LO - 17, 16, 13,

on CD 12, I was told to trigger, with my retrieval being CD 13. If you notice, I lost follicles in my left ovary on the day before the retrieval. Also? Mature eggs are usually in follicles that are 20+. At the time of retrieval, I only had three follicles (maybe four) that were the right size. In conclusion, I was told by the doctor since CD 10 or CD 11 that I'd get 7-10 eggs when there was obvious signs of my follicles not growing anymore, and/or dying off. They let me believe that THE WHOLE TIME. Ugh. On top of that, my estrogen level was only at 1142 at the time of the ER. That's pretty low, and indicates that there won't be a high number of eggs to retrieve.

Seeing these numbers, now I am not too upset that I only got three eggs from my ER. I was only ever going to get three eggs from it. Maybe four, if I was lucky. I don't think there is anything wrong with my eggs. I just think I don't respond well to that IVF protocol,and if they can find the right mix of drugs to make my follicles grow bigger, then I'll be okay.

I am no doctor, of course, but that's just what I've observed from this. Maybe I am not as broken as I thought I was. Maybe I just need this new protocol. I feel much better about my choice to switch now.

Friday, October 12, 2012

IVF #3 -- Here we go!

Today I had my first bloodwork and ultrasound appointment with my new RE. I lucked out that my actual doctor was there too! Woo!

To make a long story short (actually, it isn't really a long story at all), everything looks good, and I will start the birth control pills on Sunday.

My antral follicle count (which is the count of dormant follicles) is between 19-25. According to this page, that means I should be getting 10+ eggs. But, you know me. Nothing is that easy.

My bloodwork also came back with great levels. That's wonderful to hear!

So, starting Sunday, I will officially be into IVF cycle #3.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A New Start

I had a really great appointment today at Shady Grove with Dr. Z. He looked over my records from FCM and thought about things. Ultimately, he was confused about my two IVF cycles. Why?

With IVF cycle #1, they at FCM originally thought that I ovulated early. Dr. Z. does not think I ovulated early. In fact, he thinks that my estrodiol levels were really high, almost too high, and is confused as to why I only wound up with three eggs.

With IVF cycle #2, he was also confused, because I had follicles that measured right, but my estrodiol level didn't match the number of follicles, which might explain why I only had three eggs from this cycle too. He thinks that the majority of the follicles were most likely cysts, and weren't carrying eggs in the first place, because if they were, my estrogen levels would have been much higher.

No one at FCM ever said anything about this at all.

Dr. Z. is recommending that we change protocols to an antagonist cycle instead of what I was doing before. Basically, I will be working with different drugs. The biggest change is that I won't be using Lupron, but will be using Ganilrelix instead. There are also some changes in the scheduling of the shots.  He is going to raise the stims to try and raise my estrodiol level in hopes that I will produce more, healthy eggs this time. This will be monitored very closely, though, since my first IVF cycle showed high levels in the first place. If they get too high, the cycle will have to be cancelled.

Along with this, they will be doing ICSI (which is when they inject a single sperm into the eggs, instead of letting them fertilize on their own -- remember, the last two cycles, I had eggs which fertilized with more than one sperm, which destroyed them), and assisted hatching. B and I are also going to do a genetic screening test to check for any sort of genetic disorders that could manifest in our embryos. I forgot to ask Dr. Z. about immunology testing, but I'll ask him next time that I see him.

Ultimately, Dr. Z. said that I deserve another shot at this, and if this doesn't work, we should consider looking into donor eggs. He also said that my weight is not an issue at this point. Their BMI cut off is 40, and I am only at 35. I'd have to gain another 75+ lbs to hit their limit. I am no where near that.

So, I decided to see what Shady Grove can do for me, and I am switching to Dr. Z. As soon as I get my period, I'll start with my blood work and birth control pills, and IVF cycle #3 will begin.

I'm feeling good about this. I told Dr. Z. that I just wanted a fresh start, and he said that I deserved that, and that Dr. P. should understand this as well.

I will keep everyone updated. :)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Your Support

Means much to me. Thank you to everyone who has been reaching out. I am so glad that my blog is helping other women get through their ordeals. It means so much to me. You have no idea.

Tomorrow is my appointment with Shady Grove. I will let you all know how it goes. :)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Progesterone Test

On Tuesday, as I wrote, I went in for a progesterone test to see if I actually ovulated or not. Though the nurse did not say what my progesterone level was, she did say she was going to call in a provera script to end my cycle.

Something inside of me told me not to pick up the prescription yet, and to wait until the weekend to take it. So, yesterday, my temp went up a little bit, and today, it shot back up to 97.9, which is around my normal post-ovulation range. I checked my cervix, and it finally dropped back down to "low" which is normal after one ovulates. If my temperature stays where it is today or goes up higher, then it's an indication that I probably ovulated on Tuesday, the day of my progesterone test. This would make sense, because the test wouldn't have picked up an increased level of progesterone yet, if I was ovulating on that day.

Of course, none of this means anything until we see what tomorrow's temperature is. But, maybe I'm not out this cycle yet. Maybe there's still a little bit of hope?

Yesterday, after going back to Philadelphia to go with my friend to her sonogram appointment, I was inspired to finally call up Johns Hopkins Fertility Center to make an appointment for a second opinion. I need to move forward. I can't just sit here and do nothing because my clinic decided to play the weight game and blame everything on that. My appointment is on October 30th. Hopefully, then, I'll have some more answers.

Anyway. I'll keep you updated.