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. :)