Wednesday, December 23, 2009

7 Week Ultrasound

We have one Pea in the pod!!! We couldn't be any happier!! Our doctor said that everything looked "perfect!" We are officially due on August 11, 2010. The heartbeat was strong and it was the most precious little blob we've ever seen in our lives!!!!

This is truly the best Christmas present we have ever received!!! What a miracle!!! :)

Here's our Pea:

Monday, December 21, 2009

2 More days 'til Our 1st Ultrasound!!!

Finally!!! The week of our first ultrasound has arrived!!! It's been 18 LONG days since we first learned that IVF #2 worked and now our appointment is just two short days away!! This waiting has felt like an eternity. I am just so anxious to see our little miracle with my own eyes!!

For most of this wait I haven't been feeling very "pregnant." The only real symptom of note has been fatigue. (But who isn't tired during the winter when it's freezing cold outside and the days are the shortest of the year?) I did throw up one morning but I'm convinced that was because I took some vitamins on an fairly empty stomach which could make anyone sick. Since then I have had no real nausea to speak of. I have been hungrier, but that ALWAYS happened around the holidays!! I've mostly just felt like myself, which is what made me the most nervous.

I know in early pregnancy a lot of women really feel nothing, and its completely normal. I also know I should be grateful, and I am, for the lack of unpleasant symptoms. It's just a little unnerving to have very little physical reminders of this newly established pregnancy especially when I knew my sister to be VERY aware of her 3 pregnancies during the first trimester. She was sick daily practically the whole way through the first 12 weeks, so there was no doubt about whether she was still pregnant.

Me, on the other hand, not so much...which is great, but also fills my mind with question marks! I almost went out the other day to buy a home pregnancy test just to take it so I could see the confirmation, "yes you're still pregnant, Cilla!" Feeling like that might be going overboard, I opted not to.

Over the weekend, things started changing and I'm FINALLY starting to feel a little bit more "pregnant." It's my boobs that are giving it away!!! They are SO SORE, HUGE and very HEAVY! I'm normally a DDD size, so you can imagine what I'm dealing with now that they're even BIGGER! Yikes! Rolling over in bed has become a painful operation unless I'm very careful. I'm busting out of my bras and when I take them off at the end of the day it's like nothing I've ever felt before. I feel like gravity is working overtime on just those two parts of my body. Ouch!! It's wonderful!! It means that I really am pregnant and that my body's going through the changes I have been wanting so long for!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

6 Weeks Along

Ever since my 3rd beta test on Friday I've been feeling a little more at ease.
I'm sure that it may seem silly to some that I needed 3 blood draws and a positive home pregnancy test to help me believe that I am indeed pregnant, but, as my blog buddies know, infertility really changes you. It takes away innocence and adds a lot of fear. There is no way to change that reality, but I'm doing my best to at least be conscious of it so that I can try to calm myself whenever I get swirled up in fear and worry about the health of this pregnancy. After all, I have no control....I never have, but being so 'technically' involved somehow makes one think that they do.

I am still so early in my pregnancy that if it had been achieved naturally I may not have even contacted a doctor yet. Hell, if I didn't track my period so closely I may not even be aware that I'm even pregnant. But in my reality I have gone to the doctor over 10 times in the last month. I got daily reports of our embryos when they were in culture, and I even have a photo on the Fridge of the two they transferred back inside my uterus. Talk about a different conception experience!

Intervention and IVF?... I have fully accepted that this was our path. In addition, part of me feels special that I got to experience it this way. How many moms out there have a photo of their baby when he or she was only 5 days past conception? How many know the exact hour their child was conceived? Not many!! As much grief and hardship as this road has presented us with I feel confident in knowing that there isn't a single grain of doubt about how much we want this baby. If we had gotten pregnant when we first started trying and not gone through all this soul-searching pain I'm not sure we wouldn't have some fear and doubt about whether we were ready. But now, WE ARE, and it feels great to know that we're headed into this with such conviction.

I feel totally confident about my desire for motherhood, now I'm trying to find as much confidence to believe that this pregnancy will continue to move along with health and success. Like I said, infertility breeds fear and doubt in the natural process. We get stuck in thinking that we'll always be doomed, so its been a challenge to allow myself to find the innocence I once had before I knew so much. To be able to believe that this can work and that we won't be crushed, AGAIN.

It's odd. It seems like no matter how you conceive there is always going to be a certain amount of fear and worry. For those who conceive their first baby easily I imagine their worries would be more focused on the labor and delivery and their readiness to be a parent or maybe their worry about loosing their "child-free" self, but for those of us who have had a lot of trouble conceiving, these are really the least of concern. We are terrified the moment we are told we're pregnant because its something we thought we might never get and the thought of it being taken away is truly our worst nightmare. We KNOW we're ready to become parents and definitely wont miss the time of being "child-free." Getting to full term and going through labor and delivery will be the biggest gift ever no matter how much pain we'll have to endure. I can't say from experience because I've never given birth, but I imagine that there is no physical pain that can trump the emotional hurt of being infertile.

I'm not trying to say that infertiles are more enlightened than fertiles...I'm just trying to point out how different it can make a person's experience when it comes to pregnancy. We ALL have our fears, but the fears seem to be different based on our conception history.

I'm finally getting to the point where I can find my faith over fear...the 3rd beta definitely helped. I know that our first ultrasound will be huge confidence boost as well if it goes smoothly. I am SO EXCITED and anxious to hear the heartbeat that it's becoming very hard to be patient!!!

I've been trying to stay busy with holiday preparations!! Just 8 more days...I can do it!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Beta # 3 Results

My number is now 3575!!

For those of you who understand beta doubling here are my stats:

17dpo: 166
20dpo: 966 ...doubled every 28 hours since 1st beta.
24dpo: 3575 ...doubled every 51 hours since 2nd beta.

I am VERY pleased with these solid numbers and the nurse confirmed that we are doing just great. She really thinks that I have no reasons worry and that I should feel confident and enjoy the process. She was very sweet and I am completely going to follow her recommendations!! I am feeling more blessed now than ever. We are REALLY pregnant and things are doing very well!!! What a relief!! Thank God!!

One more thing...I read yesterday in a new book I bought called The Pregnancy Journal that by now our baby's heart has started beating....AMAZING!!! I cannot wait until our first ultrasound on Dec. 23rd so we can see it!!

What an amazing holiday season we're having. God is good!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I'm Getting a 3rd Beta!!

I decided that I couldn't wait until December 23rd to go back to my doctor to get confirmation that everything is still going ok, so I called today to see if there was any chance they would let me come in for a 3rd beta. I was told that they typically don't do a 3rd beta if the second one showed a solid doubling, but they're willing to do it if I really want. So I jumped at the chance and I'm going in first thing tomorrow morning!

I'm hoping that my numbers will be 2450 or above. If they are then it will mean that I've doubled at least every 70 hours which is just right.

Symptom Update:

YAAAAWWWWNNNNN!! I have been totally exhausted. I mean yawn every 5 minutes exhausted. Every where I've read tells you to expect it, so I'm happily yawning my way through week 5!

My sense of smell is out of this world too! For example, my dogs were eating their dinner about 10-12 feet away from where I sit to use my computer on the kitchen counter. This is where it's always been and they were eating in the same place I always feed them, but the other night our system had to be changed. I could vividly SMELL their GROSS DOG-FOOD-EATING-BREATH from where I was sitting and it was revolting to me!! HAHA! I even feed them dry Iams dog food so it’s not like it’s the wet smelly stuff. I can't believe how heightened my sense of smell has gotten!!

My appetite is down...for some reason NOTHING really appeals to me. Even so, I’ve been forcing myself to eat all the things I know I should, but eating hasn't been as satisfying or enjoyable as I usually find it. I'm sure this will pass.

Other than those few things I haven't noticed much else. My cramping has really diminished to almost nothing. I still have trouble believing that I'm actually pregnant. Well, besides the fact that I've not had my period in almost 6 weeks nor have I had any spotting. I just know that getting this third beta will help put my mind at ease if it comes back well.

I'll update as soon as I get the call from the lab tomorrow!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Beta # 2 Results

I want to start by saying THANK YOU to all my wonderful friends (blog world and real life) for your amazing words of excitement about our good news. I've heard/read comments like this:

"CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!"
"Yeeeaaayyy!"
"YES! YES! YES!"
"WooooHooooo!!"
"Congrats!"
"WONDEFUL!!!"
"WOW!!"
"Best news ever!"
"What Wonderful News!"
"Hooooorraaaaaaay!"
"Yay! Yay! Yay!"
"OMG...Awesome news!!!"
And finally, the one exclamation that keeps ringing in my head and making me smile came from my Aunt who lives in Vermont: "FAR FUCKING OUT!!!" I love it...we totally feel that way!! :)

And today when I was at my doctor's office getting my blood drawn this morning I enthusiastically told the nurse where we were when we got the call from their office. I told her how excited we were and how funny it was that we were in public. Her response? Imagine the most valley-girl, stoner, monotone, uninterested voice ever, "Thaaaat's coooool." What is with these nurses? How can they be so unaware of the emotional state of their infertility patients? I mean I just learned that we are finally expecting after ALL that THEY have seen us go through....can't I at least get a smile?? Damn! It felt like the most fucked-up exchange ever. Like I had just told her that vanilla was my favorite flavor....ugh!


Whatever...Forget her!! I DID see my doctor in the hall and he gave me a BIG HUG....it made my day to get such a warm response from him.

Beta # 2: (20dpo/15dp5dt) 966 (that's a doubling time of 28 hours!) We are feeling great about it!

My first ultrasound is scheduled for December 23rd...no appointments, no blood work or anything until then. It feels so strange! It's a relief to not have to be running to the doc every other day like before, but at the same time I have gotten very accustomed to being "checked" so it also feels a little scary. I'm sure everything will be fine...I just can't wait for the 23rd!!

Thoughts Over the Weekend...

Ben and I had a joyful weekend celebrating our news. My parents took us out to a fancy restaurant and we couldn't stop smiling...still haven't. It's been wonderful, but also very surreal and thought provoking.

We just keep saying to each other, "Can you believe it's actually true that we got a positive beta and we're really pregnant?" We're still trying to grasp it.

We also talked about how we feel like we're playing make-believe or something. We have been bogged down by infertility for so long that now when we say "we're pregnant" we feel like we're just fantasizing about the future (like we have for so many months) and that it's not really real right now.

For so long we metaphorically gritted our teeth and rolled our eyes at the easily impregnated fertiles out there and sometimes even the infertiles that left us in the dust. Now that we've just crossed over from "infertile" to "pregnant" its almost a sensation of being a traitor. It's a very bazaar feeling and I'm pretty sure I'm not doing a terribly good job of explaining it. Maybe you would have to have once be an infertile who eventually became pregnant to really get me. I don't know...

Part of me feels like I am now a resented "pregnant person" amongst the infertile community of friends that once made me feel so understood and not alone. I know how I felt when friends of mine joined the pregnant club and left me behind in miserable infertile land. It sucked a lot.

Now I am beyond thrilled to be on the other side of the line, but I am definitely aware of how my news might affect others who are still waiting to get their positive results. My heart is still with them because I remember how awful it feels. How strange to FINALLY be one of those "pregnant people" I have spent so many months snarling at.

I went in for my second beta test this morning...I will be updating with those results when I get the call later this afternoon.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Day 63 - The Results.

We're PREGNANT!!!!



The nurse called and since it wasn't my doctor's voice my knees almost buckled. Of all the places in the world, we were standing in the children's toy isle at Wal-Mart. Why you ask? Well, my docs office told us this morning that my results most likely wouldn't be in until close to 4PM so we decided that we HAD to find something to distract ourselves until then. Since Ben has taken the day off we decided to go Christmas shopping for our 5 nieces and nephews. I have been avoiding anything baby/child related for a long time now (for obvious reasons) and I knew if our results were bad it was going to be MUCH harder to accomplish this task.

So when my cell phone rang and I saw that it was my doctor's office I almost stopped breathing. I knew my reaction was going to be dramatic no matter what and I instantly regretting being in public. Oh well....SO, I answered and it was the nurse. "Oh no! I thought that my doc would call if it were good news." That's when she happily told me that she had good news!! I started freaking out...of course....and everyone around me must have thought I was crazy. Who cares! WE'RE FINALLY PREGNANT!!!

How totally ironic that we learned we are pregnant in the baby department!!!!!

We are still spinning with disbelief and joy! I was so prepared for disappointment today that I didn't even put any make-up on this morning because I was afraid I would be crying later and I didn't want to have raccoon face. Now with our fantastic news I'm crying anyway, so I guess no make-up was a good call!!

To think that after 30 months of negative pregnancy tests, multiple surgeries, a failed first IVF round, over a hundred needles, and thousands of tears and dollars we have finally gotten some good news!! Today is a GREAT day!!

I know that everyone tells you that you're not out of the woods until after the first three months and this I respect, but from our perspective we feel that it's all in Gods hands now and it's a lot easier to trust in the Lord than to trust in a doctor's practice. Though, thank God for our doctor.

I have faith in my body and I have faith in our little bean(s).

I can't believe that I have FINALLY seen two lines on a home pregnancy test for the FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE....maybe they're not bad luck after all.

My Beta level is 166 (normal for this stage is between 5 and 426) so we feel good about ours and so does our doc. I go back on Monday morning for another test to make sure the my levels are doubling. (More on this later for those who are interested.) Then I will have my first ultra-sound in two weeks to determine if one or two implanted. (I think it's only one.)

Thanks again to everyone out there who has given so much amazing support!!!!!!

Ps. For those of you who know me in 'real life' please keep this info to yourselves. Thanks so much and thanks again for all your love!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Day 62 - It All Comes Down To Tomorrow

I realize that blogging every day during my two week wait has brought forth almost no new news and my recent writing is most likely not very interesting. I will say, however, that having a place to focus my thoughts through this agonising period has helped with my temporary insanity.

When in doubt BLOG!

When I sit down to write my daily entry it gives me a focused mantra to hold on to for the next 24 hours as I've tried to end each blog in hopeful words.

So finally this is the last entry I will make until I have my test results tomorrow. I have never felt more in the dark before. Totally on the fence....utterly clueless about what my future holds.

There have been plenty of times in the last couple weeks that I have had hopeful thoughts like, "Of course it worked!" Then the very next moment the confidence I just had scares me right back into the old familiar way of thinking, "Don't get your hopes up Cilla. You know what it feels like to be devastated...so protect yourself and stop being so optimistic."

I am imprisoned by my own thoughts. I know that I could take a home pregnancy test to just get my answer now, but I am too afraid too. I have cried in my bathroom too many times. If the news isn't good I don't want to find out that way....again.

It's during this two week hell that my envy has peaked for those couples who get pregnant the "old fashioned" way. Going through In Vitro Fertilization turns our focus to medical details like egg quality, EXTREMELY early embryo development, blood HcG, uterine lining thickness, progesterone levels and on and on. We know so much that we know what can go wrong. We live in fear and anxiety and I don't believe that we, as humans, are programmed to be able to gracefully handle this amount of information when it comes to our own procreation. It feels so unfair. I wish I knew what it was like to wake up one morning and think, 'hmm, I haven't seen my period in a while." Then take a home pregnancy test and be surprised. "Wow! We're expecting!! No wonder my period is 5 days late!" How lovely that must be instead of feeling like a ticking time bomb through every grueling minute of this wait to find out if our $20,000 will result in happiness. God!! It's SO UNFAIR!!!

Obviously by now we've accepted that this IVF thing is our path even though we still feel the loss of normalcy sometimes. After 62 LONG days in this IVF cycle, and the many months before that of anticipation, it all comes down to a blood test tomorrow. We will finally learn what the next year holds for us...the much wanted pregnancy and parenthood? Or heavily feared second failed IVF heartbreak?

Your guess is as good as mine....someone flip a coin!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Day 61 - ???

Today I feel nothing. No more cramps, not tired, not anything. I have no idea what will unfold on Friday. The future looks like this to me: "????????"

Just two more days until we get an answer...we're in the home stretch now and remaining as hopeful as possible!!!

Thanks EVERYONE for all your incredible support through the last 60 days of this 2nd IVF round. I honestly would be much worse off (mentally) if it weren't for all the sweet comments from my bloggy friends, and all the support from my 'real world' friends!! Thank you all SO MUCH!!!!!!!! :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Day 60 - CRAMPS!

I have strong feelings of menstrual cramps this morning which has me freaking out. No spotting, but definitely cramps. SHIT!! What does it mean? Am I about to start my period?? Is this normal in early pregnancy? I HAVE NO IDEA!! I have never been pregnant so I don't know what it feels like, but I have gotten my period a lot and I sure as hell know what that feels like.....SHIT!!! I'm a nervous wreck!!!....UGH!! I wish I knew what was going on inside my body....3 more whole days of waiting....AHHHH!!!

(I still refuse to take a home pregnancy test. My beta is scheduled for this Friday and Ben has taken the day off so that we can be together and either spend the weekend celebrating or mourning. We don't want to find out mid-week since the results are too intense either way.)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Day 59 - Tick Tock, Tick Tock...

I still have to wait 4 more days until my beta blood test!

My embryos are 13 days old now...surely my doctor could have let me come in earlier, but no, December 4th is the earliest day they are willing to see me. Ugh!!! This wait is tortuous!! No matter how torturous, I refuse to do an 'at home' pregnancy test. I have peed on so many test sticks so many times over the last 2 and a half years, all of which broke my heart, so I refuse to do that this time. I have gotten to the point where I feel like they are bad luck, so no matter how hard it is to wait, I'm going to wait until I get that phone call from my doctor's office.

Ben and I are really holding on to our hope...trying to anyway. I still really believe that there is a good possibility that this wait can end in joy, but as the days keep ticking by the fear keeps lurking around in the shadows scaring me half to death. I am holding on to my hope with all that I have because just the fear itself of getting bad news is almost more that I can take. After all this time, hope and money I'm not sure what we would do if we get crushed AGAIN. Imagining it scares me SO much so I keep doing my best to just not to go there.

All I know for sure is that in 4 days we will either be floating on air with happiness or we will hit the floor in sadness. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Day 57 - 6 More Days of Waiting

After the non-stop cramping I had all day on Thursday I haven't felt any odd symptoms since. Except being really tired in the evenings...pretty sure that is a symptom of all the excess holiday food I've been chowing. I've had sore boobs too, but they have been tender even before the embryo transfer from the three times daily progesterone I'm on, so I'm not counting that as anything worth noting. All in all I feel very normal....which is good, but it also makes this wait feel even longer. Am I pregnant, am I not?? What's the verdict??

I keep wondering what our two little embryos are up to in there? Could one of them have actually implanted the other day? Or maybe even both? Or was that just cramping from my ovaries who are still big and fat and mildly tender from the super egg production? Are our embryos living and growing into a baby or have they pooped out like the rest? When I wake up at night I touch my belly and think about them. Most mornings when I wake up I just lay there thinking about them until Ben wakes up too and we start our days. I think about them literally every 5 minutes or less. I am constantly praying that they are still doing well.

I have even been dreaming a lot too. I dreamt last night that I was pregnant and I ran into Madonna and told her that I was expecting and she gave me a huge hug. I know...I've gone nuts. Apparently I am friends with Madge in dream land. Ha!

This waiting is really the hardest part of the whole IVF experience. We've made it through 6 days and in 6 more we will have our answer. Pregnant?? I sure hope so!!!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Day 55 - Crampy Thanksgiving

I have been feeling sharp cramps, very low and on the left side. They have been persistent and pretty acute since about 11 am. I want so much to believe that it's implantation cramping since today is 8 days past ovulation, (retrieval in my case) and implantation is supposed to happen 6-10 days after ovulation...so day 8, today, seems perfect! At the same time I am terrified to get my hopes up too high. Despite my blog yesterday I still feel like I need to stay on the fence to protect myself some. WHO KNOWS!! This two week wait is making my lose my mind a little!!

Being with family today for Thanksgiving dinner was really nice and helped to distract me, but at the same time it kinda makes it worse. I want so much for next year's holidays to be completely different with a newborn in my arms. I have wished for this for 3 years now. The fact that a cousin of mine has a 14 month old baby who was the center of attention the whole day didn't make things any easier. My dad loves babies, so if one's around it inevitably ends up in his arms for most of the time they are around. As sweet as that is, it's becoming harder and harder on me to watch. I have wanted to see him holding MY baby for SO LONG now that it really is almost unbearable to watch him with my cousin's baby. I know how horrible that must sound.

It all just makes me pray even harder for these cramps to be my baby(ies) burrowing into my uterine lining to stick around and grow strong. I want so much to move forward into a pregnancy and let go of these envious feelings that infertility evokes.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Day 54 - P.U.P.O!!!!!

I am feeling much better today thanks to all the love and support I got from friends and family in real life and in this wonderful blog world. All your positivity and comfort really lifted my spirits and I am getting back to center again. Thank you ALL so much!!

I figure I can look at it this way: I am P.U.P.O. (pregnant until proven otherwise). If it doesn't work out then we'll deal with it then, but I am not going to allow myself to fear something that hasn't happened yet. Right now I am going to look at the glass half full. My doctor DID say that it is very probable that this really could work for us. (That's a lot coming from him since he is usually quite dry when we're looking for encouragement. I guess he has to be in his profession.)

I was feeling a little crampy last night overnight...not sure if that means anything. Implantation? Maybe nothing? I'm trying not to read too much into my symptoms since most are probably imagined. It's hard though...I am just so aware of my body...every twinge, every little sensation... especially where our embryos are hopefully still thriving.

Thanksgiving with the family will be a good distraction from this day to day roller coaster. Just 9 more days until my blood test....sounds like a short amount of time, yet it seems so far away!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Day 53 - Our Chilling Freeze Report

Today was a huge blow to the happy-go-lucky optimism of yesterday. We were told that ALL of the remaining embryos "pooped out" over night. That's fucked up doctor lingo for "they're dead." We were sure that at least a couple would make it to freeze so we could use them as second chance if the unthinkable happens again this time, but it seems that our good fortune with all the embryos we thought we had has run out. I know that I wrote earlier on this very blog that we weren't expecting to be lucky enough to have any extra embryos to freeze, but when my doctor looked in our eyes yesterday and told us that he thought we would have a few we got our hopes up....really high. And SPLAT! Apparently they just "pooped out" of the existence just like our safety net.

We are now trying desperately not to loose hope for the two that I currently have inside me. We are praying like crazy that they fight hard, grow fast and burrow in to stay with us because the thought of them also "pooping out" is very much unbearable! Really, I don't what we would do with the pain.

As I move through this day I am constantly checking myself to think positive thoughts. "DON'T focus on the fear!! Try to picture what you want and not what you're afraid of!" It's being excruciatingly hard. I feel like I'm battling myself internally (probably exactly the wrong environment for our two embryos). The reason it's so hard to stay positive and focus on the what we DO want rather than what we DON'T, is that we only know the later. We only know disappointment and tears. We don't know what success or celebration feels like when it comes to pregnancy. It's just natural for people to take on mind sets that we are familiar with. SHIT!! This is not how I want to be feeling right now!!!!!! I want my positive energy back, but I feel like it got sucked out of me when we received the bad news.

When I spoke with my doctor I asked him how it was possible to go from 18 eggs retrieved to 14 viable, to 11 fertilized eggs, to a great day 3 report, and a good day 5 report to now only 2 embryos (that may or may not still be alive)? He explained that 4 out of 5 embryos will usually just "poop out." (UGH!! There's that obnoxious expression again.) That's when I asked him, "how does anyone EVER get pregnant naturally?" He responded by explaining that in any given month even the most healthy 18 year old girl only has a 22% of getting pregnant and that's becauseof the "4 out of 5 embryos just don't make it" phenomenon. REALLY?? (Why does this explanation seem so annoyingly convenient? I always thought that the challenge of getting pregnant was getting healthy eggs and sperm to link up at exactly the right time, not for already conceived embryos to be strong enough to live beyond 5 days. Whatever. I have NO IDEA how people get pregnant by accident...it just seems impossible!!) He went on to explain why he still thinks we should feel great about this cycle...watching them all grow for five days allowed the two strongest embryos to show themselves and those were the two he transferred back into my womb. He assured me that he's pleased with the two he replaced and encouraged me to look at this as a success that they were able to discern the strong from the weak. He ended our conversation by saying he still believes that we have a 50-55% chance of success so we should keep our heads up.

I plan on working hard to do just that. I'm gonna keep my head up no matter how much I feel like crying my eyes out. It ain't over 'til it's over and I really want to believe that this could finally be it for us! It was just a hell of a lot easier to be positive when we believed we could have a second chance if these sweet, little embryos inside me don't hold on. So much for some breathing room...all bets are on the table. And we thought this IVF round was gonna be less stressful than the first? Emotional roulette is a bitch!!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Day 52 - Day 5 Embryo Transfer Success!

This morning two beautiful blastocysts were transferred back into my womb! Here they are:



The nurse and my doctor kept using the word "perfect" to describe the two blasts and the ease of the transfer. It was about as successful as an embryo transfer can go! We are stoked!! My doctor took a ultrasound picture of my uterus just after the transfer and he pointed out the two blasts that looked like tiny white dots at the top of my uterus. Seeing that image really helped us to have confidence that they are in just the right spot. Ben and I both got teary as our emotion bubbled to the surface. Reflecting on all the painful years of waiting to get the this point, and all the recent days full of doctors appointments, needles and hope (and sometimes fear). Thinking about the possibility that this could really be it and our lives will change forever. Looking into each others' welled up eyes, we both felt the strong loving bond we have strengthen throughout this challenging process. All of these feelings tied to these two tiny little blastocysts. It was a very powerful experience.

On the drive home it felt the way it did just after leaving our wedding reception. Just like then, it was the sense that something really big had just happened that changes everything. Feeling so much hope for the future and so much love for the man beside me. Almost floating on air...

Now I'm home, and per my doctor's orders I'm resting in bed for the remainder of the day. Ben has gone back to work for a few hours, but my mom is here and I am SO GRATEFUL for that!!

Tomorrow we will get a call from the lab to let us know if any of our remaining embryos were able to make it to freeze. We still feel beyond blessed and lucky that things have gone so well for us this round so far.

December 4th is the day we find out if one or both of our little blasties have decided to snuggle in and become a pregnancy. We'll spend a lot of time talking to my belly and saying our prayers!!

Oh...and here are some pics of me and Ben right before the transfer looking fancy in our medical getups. :)


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Day 50 - Day 3 Embryo Progress Report

All 11 are still thriving!! They are all between 6 and 10 cells now and the nurse said that 7 of them are currently compacting which means that they are about to divide again! Because of this, my doctor cannot yet tell which two are the best quality so we are waiting until Monday morning to do the transfer. By then the embryos will be blastocysts and the nurse told me that by transferring blasts we are increasing the likelihood of implantation (pregnancy) by about 17%. We are feeling so blessed to continue to receive such positive news. Here are some pictures to give an idea of what our embryos are looking like now:



This is what our blastocysts they transfer on Monday should look like:





Blastocyst: A thin-walled hollow structure in early embryonic development that contains a cluster of cells called the inner cell mass from which the fetus arises. The outer layer of cells gives rise to the placenta and other supporting tissues needed for fetal development within the uterus during pregnancy.

We are just in awe because last IVF round we did a day 2 transfer because we only had two embryos so there was no point in watching them grow to determine which were the best quality. At the transfer they were only 2 and 6 cells respectively. Its hard to believe that ALL eleven of our current embryos are surpassing those of last round. WOW! This time is a whole new ball game and we can't believe our good fortune so far.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Day 49 - Day 2 Embryo Progress Report

A nurse called this morning to happily inform us that ALL 11 of our embryos made it through the night and are doing very well. We are overjoyed! She also let us know that the transfer will be tomorrow morning (day 3) at 11:15 AM. They are going to call at 9 AM to either confirm or possibly reschedule for Monday (day 5) if they feel it's in our best interest to watch the embryos continue to grow a little longer. We will just have to wait and see.

It's so amazing to know that our genetic products and possible future children are out there alive and dividing right at this very moment. I can't wait to have a couple of them snugly transferred into their mama!! And we are becoming more hopeful that we might really have some to freeze for future attempts. We feel so overwhelmed with good news after our previous IVF heartbreak of only getting two poor quality embryos that didn't make it. We didn't allow ourselves to fully imagine that we could actually be in this position. But here we are with 11 embryos and considering a day 5 transfer!!! We just feel so blessed and we continue to pray for the well being of our teenie, tiny embabies!!

Oh, and Ben thought it was funny when he caught me "blogging in my Snuggie" when I was on the couch after my retrieval the other day. Here's the nerdy picture. :)



I'll update soon...thanks again for everyone's well wishes and tremendous support!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day 48 - Embryo Fertilization Report

The nurse finally called and I burst into tears when she shared our wonderful news with us.

Of the 18 eggs, 14 were viable and 11 fertilized!! WE HAVE 11 EMBRYOS!!! OMG!! I just cannot believe it. We are SO, SO BLESSED!!!!!

The nurse said that they will call tomorrow to schedule the timing of my day 3 embryo transfer for this Saturday. Hopefully we will have two beautiful embabies to transfer back into my womb then!! She said that there is a chance that they might call really early on Saturday morning to change it to a day 5 Blast transfer if our embryos are growing really strong...we will just have to wait and see.

In the mean time I will be praying for God to watch over our sweet little embryos to help them grow and be strong. Now that I know they are alive and dividing I can feel them out there...I know that might sounds strange, but they are my babies no matter how small they are!! We are so happy right now!!!!!!! So many smiles....keeping the positivity going!!

I'm feeling better too. Still crampy, but not feeling bad at all. I am not worried about OHSS. I couldn't be more please with how things are right now!!

This morning I have started using the dreaded 3 times daily vaginal progesterone suppositories called Endometrim...eww! I know that every woman who has used these hates them, but they are used instead of getting a huge needle in the back side every day (which honestly I think I'd prefer) and they are very important too at this stage in IVF.

Getting a steady stream of progesterone during pregnancy is vital for these reasons:

1. Makes the uterine lining develop and secrete fluids after being primed by estrogen.
2. Maintains the functions of the placenta and fights off unwanted cells near the womb that could cause damage to the placenta or fetus.
3. Keeps the uterine lining in a thickened condition.
4. Stops the uterus making spontaneous movements.
5. Stimulates the growth of breast tissue.
6. Prevents lactation until after the birth (with estrogen).
7. Strengthens the mucus plug covering the cervix to prevent infection.
8. Strengthens the pelvic walls in preparation for labor.
9. Stops the uterus from contracting thus keeping the baby where it is.

My doctor will keep me on the progesterone until my pregnancy test which is on December 4th and most likely for a couple months after that if the results are positive. (Hope! Hope!!) Once my body is making a sufficient supply of its own progesterone I will most likely be able to stop using the suppositories and hopefully feel like a normal pregnant person who doesn't have to deal with anymore injections or suppositories from there on out! (This is SOOOO what we're hoping can happen for us now!!)

**There is one thing I want to clarify about being awake during my egg retrieval since I got a number of comments about it yesterday. I was in no way trying to be a hero or go 'au natural' by being awake, nor was doctor trying to be cruel by not putting me under. I took 10mg of Valium prior to arriving at the office (usually they only give their patients 5mg) and I was administered as much of the IV sedation medication as they are legally allowed to use for an out-patient procedure...all those drugs just simply couldn't put me to sleep! Guess I just have a really high tolerance to sedatives. Apparently general anesthesia is the only thing that puts me out, but obviously that is not necessary for this kind of procedure. Since I was awake last time, I knew to expect it this time around too. It sucks, but I made. I have to admit, it is kinda interesting to see in person how they do it even though it hurts like hell. Oh, and my doctor did prescribe Percocet to replace the horrid Tylenol 3...so finally I was feeling minimal pain for the rest of the day yesterday and over night. :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Day 47 - Egg Retrieval!! (18 on the 18th)

WE GOT 18 EGGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (My lucky marble eggs must have worked...see my post from nov 7th to know what I'm talking about!!!!)

We got 9 eggs last time but only 5 were viable, so chances are that not all of these 18 are mature, but its a MUCH BETTER number to start with so we are more than thrilled! We still can't quite believe it!!! Big smiles in our house today!!

So the procedure itself went pretty well even though I was conscious the whole time again, but my doc did his best to be gentle. One of the nurses was trying to distract me by asking about my Thanksgiving plans which I thought was very sweet, but c'mon, it's kinda hard to carry on a conversation while needles are being pricked into my ovaries over and over again...ouch! It went by relatively quickly then I was wheeled down the hall to recovery where I happily met back up with Ben after our respective retrievals. Ben took some before and after pics...

BEFORE:

AFTER:



THE NURSE TOOK THIS ONE:

Good thing she's a nurse rather than a photographer! lol

They gave me some Tylenol 3 in the recovery to help with the pain and stupid me forgot that I am massively allergic to that stuff. On the way home in the car I started getting major abdominal pain right over my liver like the pain I had before my gall bladder was removed in 2005. Then I started to feel REALLY light headed and was sure I was going to totally pass out. My hearing got distorted like I had a bubble over my head and my vision was all pale. I was sweating like crazy, but I was cold. I must have been as pale as a ghost. It was really scary, and paniced, Ben kept saying, "What can I do? What can I do?" I just yelled, "get me home!!" Once we were there I collapsed on the couch in excruciating pain. It was hard to breath from the pain and I was literally gasping for air. Normally I would have been way more freaked out, but this has happened to me before. The next thing I new, I was about to throw up so I rushed to the bathroom and Ben followed me feeling so worried. He was so sweet to hold my hair back as I vomited and then as soon as it was over...Poof! I was all better. No more pain in my liver area and I could take a deep breath. WEIRD!!! I have no idea why that one particular pain medicine does that to me, but I can promise that I will NEVER being taking it again!!!

My doctor prescribed something else that I have taken with my other surgeries that has no negative side effects on me. I will most definitely be sticking to that kind from now on!!

Anyway now that that insane drama is all over with I am feeling much better....very crampy around my ovaries, but still a hell of lot better then when I was on the bathroom floor feeling like I was dying.

Thank goodness Ben has taken the day off so he could be home to take care of me! So for the next 24 hours I will be chillin' on the couch with some pain meds near by..the ones that DON'T try to kill me. We're gonna watch movies and keep a fire going and stay as cozy as possible. Which reminds me...I just got a new Snuggie (you know the blanket with sleeves...lol) and it totally rocks!! As much as I used to make fun of those commercials I would recommend them to all!!! The are so cozy...especially today!! :)

We will get a call from the lab tomorrow morning by 10AM to let us know how many of our eggs fertilized....praying for a lot!!!! We are very eager for those results!!!

And finally, I want to say a BIG THANKS to everyone out there for all the amazing support I have felt form you during this IVF cycle!!! You all have helped me to keep my positive thougts flowing!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day 46 - What Happens In The IVF Lab?

I have been asked by a number of friends and family members what exactly happens in the lab during the IVF process. So today I will explain it here for those who are interested. (I know all my infertility bloggy friends already know this stuff...we're all like A.R.T. experts by now!! Right girls?) But I've found that most of the world doesn't really know what we're are talking about when we say IVF...so here's a breif explaination.

Normally, an egg and sperm are fertilized inside a woman’s body. If the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the womb and continues to grow, a baby is born about 9 months later. This process is called natural or unassisted conception.

IVF is a form of assisted reproductive technology (A.R.T.). This means special medical techniques are used to help a woman become pregnant. IVF has been successfully used since 1978. It is most often tried when other, less expensive fertility techniques have failed.

There are five basic steps to IVF:

Step 1: Stimulation, also called super ovulation
Medicines, commonly called stimulation drugs, are given to the woman to boost her egg production. Normally, a woman produces one egg per month. Fertility drugs tell the ovaries to produce several eggs. During this step, the woman will have regular transvaginal ultrasounds to examine the ovaries and blood tests to check hormone levels (This is what I've been up to for all these days!)



Step 2: Egg retrieval
A minor surgery, called follicular aspiration, is done to remove the eggs from the woman’s body. Using ultrasound images as a guide, the health care provider inserts a thin needle through the vagina and into the ovary and follicles containing the eggs. The needle is connected to a suction device, which pulls the eggs and fluid out of each follicle, one at a time. The procedure is repeated for the other ovary.







Close up of Follicular fluid containing one egg


Step 3: Insemination and Fertilization
The man’s sperm is placed together with the best quality eggs and stored in an environmentally controlled chamber. The mixing of the sperm and egg is called insemination. The sperm usually enters (fertilizes) an egg a few hours after insemination. If the doctor thinks the chance of fertilization is low, the laboratory staff may directly inject the sperm into the egg. This is called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Many fertility programs routinely do ICSI on some of the eggs even if everything is normal.






This is the high powered microscope used to perform ICSI


Step 4: Embryo culture
When the fertilized egg divides, it becomes an embryo. Laboratory staff will regularly check the embryo in the incubator to make sure it is growing properly. Within 2-5 days, a normal embryo has several cells that are actively dividing.






Step 5: Embryo transfer
Embryos are placed into the woman’s womb 3 - 5 days after egg retrieval and fertilization. The procedure is done in the doctor’s office while the woman is awake. The doctor inserts a thin tube (catheter) containing the embryos into the woman’s vagina, through the cervix, and up into the womb. If an embryo sticks to (implants) in the lining of the womb and grows, pregnancy results. It is common for more than one embryo may be placed into the womb at the same time to increase the chance of pregnancy. (Of couse this also increases the chance of multiples.) The exact number of embryos transferred is a complex issue that depends on many factors, especially the woman’s age. I am in my late twenties, so most likely my doctor will choose to only transfer two at time. Unused embryos may be frozen and transfered at a later date if they survive the freezing and thawing process.




I realize that this blog post was more like a chapter out of a text book, and I'm sorry for that. I just hope that it was able to give a basic overview of what Ben and I are going through this week. I've been trying explaining it to close friends and family members so I thought it might make better sense with pictures.

My egg retrieval is tomorrow morning at 10:15 AM! Fingers crossed for good results!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Day 45 - Trigger Tonight!!

My appointment went very well this morning! My doctor was hoping that my follicles were going to get really big and they ARE!! They all measure between 18 and 25mm!! (Last IVF round they did my egg retrieval when my biggest follies we 15-18mm and I ended up having a lot of immature eggs that didn't fertilize.) So this round the plan was to let my follies grow bigger and they DID! Also THREE MORE have showed up so it looks like there is a total of 14 follicles!! My uterine lining measured 11mm which is great! The ideal thickness is between 8 and 12mm so hopefully mine will be just perfect for an embryo to burrow in. :) My blood results were a little surprising...my E2 was 3309 which is more than twice what it maxed out to last IVF round. The higher the E2 the higher the risk is for OHSS. (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome causes intense abdominal pain, bloating, and weigh gain from excess ovarian fluid building up in the abdominal cavity. In some cases it requires hospitalization to have the fluid drained.) So far I feel fine (other than sore ovaries), so hopefully I wont have any problems. My LH level was still 0.9 so there is a very low chance of me ovulating on my own prior to retrieval.

My doctor told me to do my hCG trigger shot tonight at exactly 11:30 PM. Then we are supposed to have sex...really romantic huh? And we're not allowed to do it again until we are cleared by him (it will be at least several weeks or more). I'm serious...we are forbidden to have sex until our doctor tells us its ok to. Call me crazy, but isn't that how people used to make babies?? "At least we get one last hurrah tonight." That is a direct quote from the nurse this morning. Clearly our personal life no longer exists!! HA!

What is an hCG trigger shot?

My eggs need to go through the last stage of maturation, before they can be retrieved. This last growth is triggered with an injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Timing this shot is vital. If it's given too early, my eggs will not have matured enough. (Which is what happened last time.) If given too late, the eggs may be “too old” and won't fertilize properly. The daily ultrasounds are meant to time this trigger shot just right. Since this is my second IVF I trust that our doctor now knows that this is the right timing for my eggs to be prime!

My egg retrieval surgery needs to be exactly 36 hours after I give myself the trigger shot so that I don't ovulate and loose all the newly matured eggs. That means this Wednesday at 10:30 AM it's game time!! This is also the day that Ben will finally be involved in this lengthy IVF process. He has an appointment for his "sperm retrieval" at the same time as my procedure.

And now I would like to share a story with you...

When Ben and I were first going through our fertility diagnostic testing in February 2008 we were pretty freaked out by the whole unfamiliar process. Because of this we accompanied each other to every appointment to provide support. I am about to explain the world's most awkward situation: When we found ourselves in a room at the fertility clinic with a cup..... for sperm. Yikes!

We were escorted by a lab technician to the "special room." As we walked in we realized that it was just a glorified public bathroom. I looked around and instantly knew it was the weirdest place I'd ever been in my entire life. There was a lamp on a table with a red light bulb (mood lighting, I guess), a rack full of well flipped through porno magazines (gross!), a cheesy black faux leather chair in the corner (even grosser!), a television hanging from the ceiling with a VCR (whaaaat?), a basket of collection cups (ok...), and of course the bathroom sink, paper towel dispenser and a toilet (seriously?!?!). My first words to Ben after the tech left, "EWWW...Don't touch anything!" He couldn't have agreed more as we stood there, hands close to our sides just looking around in disbelief. As if this room weren't the most awkward situation ever, we could hear nurses gabbing loudly right outside the door in the hallway. "How the hell are we really supposed to get through this??" It felt wrong, embarrassing, weird and completely hilarious all at once...just like the time when they showed the sex-ed video in sixth grade. OMG!! This wasn’t a place that either of us had EVER envisioned ourselves. So much for the mystique of privately conceiving a child together, and at that moment we both knew, the honeymoon’s over!!

Now after 2.5 years and numerous "sperm retrievals" Ben has gotten used to the drill just as I have gotten used to assuming the stirrup position for 5 or more people at once. For us, trying to make a baby means doing things most couples never have to experience! We are willing to do whatever it takes!! That's how much we want a child of our own!

Just two more days until our eggs and sperm will finally meet!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Day 42 - Still Stimming! No Stressing!

Ben and I had another visit with the doc this morning to check my progress. He counted 6 follies on the right and 5 or 6 on my left ovary. So we're looking at about 11-12 follicles now! All were ranging in size from 8 mm to 15 mm...mature follicle size at ovulation is usually between 10 mm and 18 mm. He wants me to continue stimming...cut back on dosage a little bit... until Monday morning when I'll have another scan. My doctor is trying to push my follicles to get a little bigger than average since last time some of my eggs were immature and unable to fertilize. Because of the Lupron suppression and my low LH level he is not concerned about premature ovulation. (My blood work showed E2 at 902 and LH was 0.9.) He still thinks that my egg retrieval will be next Wednesday (11/18) or maybe even Thursday. Again he said that my uterine lining was "perfect." So we are all feeling very positive about the good progress.

Also I'm feeling much more normal today (no more light-head or nausea) so that's a relief....hope it doesn't come back! And it's Friday so my Hubby and I can hang out together all weekend and watch football and work on staying relaxed. It seems that the closer we get to the retrieval the more anxiety I'm trying to manage. I'm sure that it's a combination of several things. First is the excitement I have about being closer to maybe getting pregnant for the first time in my life. Second is the nerves I have about the procedure since I was awake last time and it was really painful. (Guess I have a high tolerance to the "sleepy" drugs they use.)And finally, the major player in my anxiety, is the fear I have of it turning out just like our last IVF round.

As we were driving to the doc this morning Ben and I were acknowledging, once again, how polarizing the results are to us. If it works we will be living a sweet dream, but if it doesn't we will be repeating a horrible nightmare. We do realize that there is a chance for some grey area. It is possible that we get enough embryos so we could freeze the ones we don't transfer this cycle, and then if it doesn't work there is always a second chance with a frozen embryo transfer. However, last time that's what we naively assumed would automatically happen, but we only got two embryos to start with, so obviously we were brought back down to earth rather quickly. And sadly those two embryos that were transferred back to my womb never made it.

This time around we are just hoping beyond hope for a pregnancy from a fresh embryo transfer and the thought of actually having some 'extra' embryos to freeze is more like an unrealistic fantasy. But, hey, anything is possible so we will just have to wait and see how this all unfolds.

In the meantime I have to keep reminding myself to relax and take deep breaths...even though it kinda hurts with my swollen ovaries. :) I know that anxiety does NO good so there is no point in worrying. It will turn out the way it's meant to be... so instead of focusing on my anxiety I am trying to work on my faith that this time could really be the sweet ending that we have prayed for, for so long.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Day 41 - Feeling Kinda Blah

I called my doctor's office this morning because I've been feeling queasy and light-headed since last night. I never felt like this at all during last IVF round so I was a little bit concerned. They told me not to worry since it is common with stim medication. Oh Joy! Good thing is that I'm not dying or anything, but I definitely feel yucky....like that feeling you get when you're blood sugar is WAY too low so you feel like you might puke and pass out all at the same time....yeah, that's pretty much how I'm feeling. EYES ON THE PRIZE, CILLA!!

I'm really not complaining. I'm tough so I know I can definitely handle this... especially since this IVF round is the most important thing in the world to me right now. I imagine this is what morning sickness feels like, so bring it on!! (I'm not saying that I hope to be ill with morning sickness, I just want to be pregnant so much that if this is what comes along with it so be it!)

Being still helps so that's what I plan on doing for most of the day. Except I do have a hair appointment (cause blonde hair with dark roots is NOT hot) so I hope I can keep it together when I'm in the salon. OMG! Could you imagine how mortifying it would be to ralph on your hair stylist right in mid-foil?? I would die!

I haven't actually gotten sick, it's more like just waves of nausea, so hopefully that nightmare won't come true!

OK, enough about barf-talk! Eww...

We go back to the doc tomorrow AM to check on my eggs...we're really looking forward to that. Hopefully then they can give us a better idea of when my retrieval will be. Right now they are guessing maybe Nov 18th. Wow...it's finally getting so close to game time!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Day 40 - More Shots...

In honor of doing my 28th shot today I thought I'd post a pic that Ben snapped the other evening while I was going through the drill... We're getting pretty good at this! :)



Probably just one more week to go with the injections then it will be egg retrival and time to make some embryos!! :) Fingers crossed!!!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Day 39 - 10 Follicles So Far!!

Ben came home from work to drive me to my doctor's appointment this morning so he can really be a part of the WHOLE process (even though the majority of it involves just my body). Last time his work schedule didn't really allow much flexibility so, in a way, we both felt like I went through most of the IVF process alone. This time of year his job is much less demanding and I was thrilled to have him by my side. He plans to attend the rest of my appointments as well. It feels good to be going to the doctor as a couple since that is where we have the ability to conceive our children. Obviously we would prefer to be alone in our bedroom for that to happen, but we've grown to accept that this is our path. Being there together for every appointment so we can smile at each other and hold hands is our version of baby-making romance.

At the appointment I had an ultrasound of my ovaries to check the follicle (egg) growth now that I've been injecting stims for the last 4 nights. First our doc said that I have a "beautiful uterine lining." That means my womb is doing a good job of preparing for an embryo to implant. Next he happily told us that there are 10 small follicles at this point. He went on to say that some women only have 1 or 2 and sometimes none after only 4 days of stimming so we should be very please with 10! He said, "if all my patients had 10 follicles this early, then my job would be easy." We were very happy to get the good news. Last IVF cycle we only had 9 eggs total by the end, so being that we already have more this early is a GREAT sign!!

After my ultrasound we moved down the hall to the "blood draw station" so one of the nurses could collect a vial of my blood to send to the lab for hormone level analysis. As she stuck me with the needle in my arm I asked her when the results would be in. She groaned, took a heavy, labored breath and impatiently said, "this afternoon sometime." Ignoring her tone, I asked if it would be too early to call at 3pm for the results. Her eyes darted at me and she curtly said, "DON'T call. Just don't call." I looked at her thinking, "EXCUSEZ MOI?? This is my blood and I have every damn right to know what's in it!!!" So I sternly told her, "well, I AM going to call because it's important to me to know." She begrudgingly agreed to put a note on my chart to have someone call me when the results were in. Damn! Is it really that hard...I'm not asking for much...especially when one considers how much $$$ we have just handed them out of our pockets. Ugh! As rude and off putting as she was it didn't bring me down since we were so excited about our 10 eggies and counting!

But still....Can you believe that?! It will never cease to amaze me how unfriendly and down right rude some of our IVF nurses are. How on earth do they get a job at an infertility clinic anyway? Fertility challenged people are some of the most emotionally sensitive patients out there, so you would think our doctor would try to find really nice nurses rather than the opposite. Who knows, maybe he hired them for their outstanding medical skills...and perhaps with skill comes bitchiness...WHATEVER!?!? I've gotten used to wearing my emotional armour while I'm in that office...it's the only way to get outta there without crying. Ha!

So I just heard back from the lab to learn my hormone levels. E2 (estrogen) is 175 which they say is just right considering the number and size of my 10 follicles. And my LH is 0.3, so NO RISK of early ovulation at this point, which is fantastic.

My doctor instructed me to continue the stim medication as I have been so far(Follistim 300, Menopur 75) and come back for another ultrasound and blood work this Friday morning. Let's hope the nurse I get STUCK with then (pun intended) is one of the nicer ones. :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Day 38 - Stop Trying?

It happened to me again the other day just after I shared with a new friend that I was in the middle of trying IVF for the second time. She told me a story of someone she knows who tried and tried all kinds of interventions to get pregnant to no avail. Low and behold after six months of giving up she spontaneously got pregnant on her own! Why does everyone have a story like that? And why do they all feel the need to share it with those of us who are brave enough to talk about our own trouble conceiving. I know that 99% of the time these stories are told to us to make us feel better. To give us hope that as soon as we "stop trying" it's possible that a baby could be right around the corner. (But when we're in the midst of spending thousands upon thousands of dollars to get closer to parenthood, these stories are more like a thorn in our side...trust me!) I do recognize that they are meant with all good intention, so I do my best to treat them that way...in person. It's when I'm alone that I start to stew over it.

So basically what I've been told over and over and over, by many, is that once we "stop trying" that's when it will happen for us. (Forget the fact that our doctors have told us that we have less 1% chance of conceiving on our own based on scientific evidence...clearly it's all in our heads!)

It seems that the same goes for meeting the "the one." I remember when I was single, I was told (over and over)that as soon as I stop looking that's when the right man will just walk into my life. Oddly, that's sort of what happened to me. It was more like I met him in last place I would have expected, so I wasn't looking....that night. But for years leading up to that chance meeting I had said a lot of prayers that God would guide me to him. With the combination of luck, preparation and maybe God, there he was, and it was perfect! It has been ever since! And for this I know I am so blessed.

Has anyone heard the saying, "If there is a will, there is a way?" I'm pretty sure this advice has been used millions of times in human history. It's a way to push an individual or a group to aggressively go after something they want to achieve. If you want it bad enough, then it's possible to make it a reality by persevering and never giving up. Scholars have used this mentality to achieve great honors and recognition. Athletes use this motto to break records and win gold medals. People take on this mind frame to get promoted at work. Even average Joes use it to finish do-it-yourself projects around the house. People who live this way are widely regarded as strong characters who set important examples of how to live a productive and meaningful life.

I believe that if you want meaningful things to come into your life you must being willing to work hard for it. Thoughout my life I have been pushed to be better by my parents, my teachers and professors, my employers, and even by my peers. Pushed to be more determined, have a stronger willpower and, most importantly, to NEVER GIVE UP. I find it so interesting that two very important things in life, education and career, are achieved by rigorous resolve and determination, but the MOST important thing in life (for me), FAMILY, is the area that people tell me to just "stop trying" for it to happen successfully.

I have worked hard in my life from my first job at McDonalds when I was 15 to playing varsity sports, graduating college with honors, working for tough employers, maintaing my realtionships and values to now working hard to create my own family. I will never give up or stop trying...never.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Day 36 - Paranoia and Superstition

So I learned this morning that all the hormones in my system have mental side effects that are definitely not on the warning labels. Being sore at the injection site and having hot flashes are to be expected, but the bitchiness, and mood swings have shown up too. I actually got upset with my husband for putting a 12-pack of bubbly water on the wrong shelf in the refrigerator. Then not 5 minutes after that irritable outburst I felt like I was going to cry for no reason at all. Yikes! Also I seem to have come down with a severe case of paranoia! I completely imagined that a good friend of mine was angry with me and it's been bothering me all morning. So I texted her to clear that air and she immediately called me because she had no idea what I was talking about. It's official...I'm crazy!! We both had a good laugh about it.

Yesterday when I was out with another good friend for a lovely afternoon of lunch and window shopping I learned that this cycle has turned me into a superstitious IVF patient in addition to the moodiness. When we were in a little boutique I came upon this beautiful grouping of antique marble eggs. Since I have nothing but eggs on the brain (well paranoia too I suppose) I decided to get a few "Lucky" ones. Hey, it can't hurt right?? Here they are...Aren't they pretty?



I'm pretty sure I will survive this hormone roller coaster...lets hope that all the supportive people I have around me can put up with my ludicrous behavior.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Day 35 - Great EGGSpectations!!!

Today I officially start injecting stims!! I will be giving myself two shots each evening. First of these is Follistim...




And Menopur is next...



I will be injecting 300IU of Follistim and 75IU of Menopur until next Tuesday when I go to my doctor for an ultrasound and some blood work to see how my body is responding at that point. He may adjust the dosage up or down depending on how many follicles he can see and what my E2 levels are.

Chances are I'm going to start feeling a bit different too. During my last IVF round, once I started injecting the stims, I began to feel more and more bloated as the days progressed. This is normal since my ovaries are "super producing" which makes them expand and causes the abdominal discomfort. I don't mind the pain if my body can produce lots of eggs!!

Last time around I was on a different protocol of drugs. I used Bravelle (instead of Follistim) with Menopur as my stims. Also, I took birth control pills for 17 days prior to stimming instead of using Lupron to calm my ovaries. At the end of the cycle my body hadn't responded as well as my doctor and I would have liked. My eggs were not great quality. They harvested 9 in total, but 2 of them were immature, 2 more were too mature so the cell walls were cracked, which left only 5 viable eggs to try to fertilize. Of those 5 only 2 did. They transferred those two embryos back into my uterus hoping that at least one would implant and become a pregnancy, but neither did. Since they were the only two embryos we had, there were none to freeze to try again with later. We were very sad and it felt like biggest loss ever. We had been given a picture of the two, microscopic embryos that they had put back. And for the two weeks before my pregnancy test I touched my belly a lot and spoke to the embryos saying, "I'm so glad to have you inside me, please get comfortable. I will take really good care of you!!" It was the closest I've ever felt to being pregnant because we had our embryos picture on the fridge to remind us constantly. ( I would post it here, but looking at the photo makes me too sad.) It was devastating to learn that they had not made it.

But...here we are again with another chance for a miracle!!!

My doctor hopes that the Lurpon has done a better job of quieting my ovaries so that this time my eggs are not so staggered in development. Also he told me that the Follistim is more purified than the Bravelle so it will hopefully have a stronger effect and cause my body to produce more, better quality eggs.

So we all have great EGGSpectaions for this round!! GROW EGGIES GROW!!!!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Day 34 - Questions Answered

OK, so since I left the doctor's yesterday without all the knowledge I'd hoped to acquire, I came home and started in on some research. Then this morning I called one of my IVF nurses (since obviously my doctor is WAY to busy to speak with me) to make sure that the info I found online was correct and to get the results from my blood work yesterday. (I told you I was serious about knowing what all this stuff means! So here goes...hope it isn't too tedious for you!)

The hormones they were measuring yesterday was E2(estrogen/estradiol) and LH (luteinizing hormone). My results were good. (E2:42 & LH: 1.5). Here's what that means....

What is E2?
Estradiol (or estrogen) is a hormone that stimulates the lining of the uterus, causing the lining to grow, and to make itself ready for embryo arrival. (This is not estradiol's only function, but for me, it's the important one). When I begin the stimulation injections my developing follicles (eggs) will contain 'granulosa cells'. These granulosa cells make estradiol and release it into my blood stream. That means that more follicles produce more estradiol. This helps measure how many follicles will be actively developing. As they develop, the level of E2 continues to rise. This rise can further indicate when the follicles are reaching their maturity. (It can also indicate if there is a risk of OHSS, Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome. OHSS can be very painful, and in rare cases, be life threatening, but for now I'm at NO RISK at all since I'm down-regulated....more on this later when my levels start to rise when I'm using the stims. Just keep in mind that levels of 4000 are considered dangerous. In my last cycle I topped out at only 1500, so my doc doesn't think that I need to be concerned about it. But with different drugs anything is possible so that's why they will keep my E2 levels closely monitored throughout. I'm in good hands, even if he is super busy.)

In down-regulation (which is where I am now from the Lupron) my doctor expects low levels of estradiol: below 60 pg/ml. (If levels are not this low, this suggests that my ovaries are not yet suppressed, and that the down-regulation should continue a little longer, until they actually are suppressed.) I am at 42, so that is considered "quiet ovaries" and ready to roll with the stims....as soon as I'm taken off "hold"! That's tomorrow, so it's all good!!

What is LH?
Luteinizing hormone levels can predict when ovulation is about to occur. In IVF you really DON'T want to ovulate because then you will loose all the eggs you've just grown and you wont have any left to work with in the lab. (After all, Ben and I are doing IVF because my eggs and his sperm are incapable of joining on their own, so loosing the eggs would be really bad!) When LH is between 9 and 10 that's when spontaneous ovulation can occur. My level is 1.5 now, so we have worries at this point.

The main goal of this, and all IVF treatments, is to grow as many mature, healthy eggs as possible (monitoring them each step of the way) and then harvest them just prior to natural ovulation so they can be fertilized in a petri dish in the lab. Sounds pretty simple right??

Thank goodness for this medical advancement and my busy doctor because we would not be able to have our own baby (our genetics) without this science and his incredible skill.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Day 33 - Part 2

Well that wasn't how I'd pictured going!! I swear my doctor was in the room for less than 2 minutes total, and for a minute and a half of it, he was talking into my vagina while I lay back with my feet up in the stirrups. (Not exactly the ideal position for good conversation.) Geez!! I'd forgotten just how brief and impersonal each of these visits really are! Here's a photo so you can imagine it better while I go on to explain the fastest two minutes in history....




I got there and was promptly called back to exam room. (They are always good about that which I appreciate.) I got undressed, from the waist down, and I pulled out the sheet of paper I had written all my questions on so I could have it handy. That was when I realized I had grabbed my damn grocery list instead. Great! "This appointment is already off to a good start," I thought to myself. Oh well, I could remember most of the questions so I figured it wasn't that big of a deal. When the doctor came in he seemed please to see me and I was graciously welcomed back for a second round of IVF....like I was a returning patron to a fancy restaurant or something?!? Then, on the contrary to a fancy restaurant, I was asked to "lay back, put my feet up in the stirrups, scooch to the very edge of the exam table, and let my knees fall to the sides." It's almost like you to have to turn off your frontal lobe (the part of our brains that distinguish us as intelligent, dignified beings) so that you cannot feel the normal human emotions that make this situation incredibly awkward. And this is precisely why I always seem to be unable to vocalize my questions.


I had to barrow this comic photo from a fellow blogger who knows what this experience is all about. This is TOTALLY what it can feel like in that room with those bright-ass florescent lights.

Anyway, back to what I was saying...I did manage to get a few of my questions out in the brief two minutes. Most importantly, my doctor was able to genuinely express that he is "really hoping that this round, with the different drugs, will be a success for us," since he knows how disappointed we were last March. Hearing that made me feel like there was a human connection, if only for a split second, in this sterile medical environment.

That nano-second of human connection vanished when I was told that I would have to "put stimming on hold for a few days since there are too many other patients cycling right now." Excuse me??? Put on hold?? Like a phone call? ...Yes.

Apparently there are a lot of infertile women in Cincinnati who are on the same cycle as me! So, like a robot, my body will be put on hold (continuing Lupron for a couple more days) so that my doctor can stagger his patient load. Weird right? I didn't even know that was possible!! But I have to remind myself that I am with the tri-state's biggest infertility clinic whose doctors are in high demand for their skill. Knowing that they are "so good" that they have that many patients who come from far and wide is a plus. But, on the other hand, it feels like shit to be essentially wait listed mid-cycle. If I've ever felt like I'm just an irrelevant number, now is the time!

I start stimming this Friday, so it will be here soon enough...in the mean time I will be listening to the proverbial "elevator hold music" while I wait for the next customer service representative.

Oh IVF...you are a strange, strange thing!!

Day 33 - Part 1

Yesterday's birthday was wonderful!! Our hike was awesome!! Delicious king crab for dinner then home to blow out some candles and make a HUGE wish. After dark we snuggled on the couch and watched a couple movies. I couldn't have asked for a better day!!





This morning I am excited about visiting my doctor for the first time since my Day 3 blood work. I have been injecting Lupron for 11 days and expect that my ovaries are quiet by now, so I'm guessing that I will start on stims tomorrow!! I have a long list of questions for my appointment today that I'm eager to ask. I'm not going to bother writing them here (since most are pretty technical) but it's important for me to be more "involved" this time through. The last IVF round I was more like a passenger who just went with the flow. I feel that my stress levels were higher last round because I didn't know what I was injecting myself with or what was happening inside my body. This time I will still have to "go with the flow" (since obviously our doc knows best), but I want to at least know what are the appropriate questions to ask and have an idea what the answers mean. Being more educated about the process, I feel, will allow me more peace of mind. (I'll apologize ahead of time if my blog tends to get technical but that is what I know will help me to feel like I'm not a passenger in the process of OUR IVF.)

Off to the doc...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Day 32 - It's My Birthday!

So I turned 29 this morning at 8:43 AM. I know this because it says so on my birth certificate that I keep carefully in our filing cabinet. I can't wait to hold the birth certificate of my baby. Like a diploma of motherhood.

I'm in great spirits today because my sweet husband is taking a half day off from his busy executive world so he can spend the day with me! Ben taking a spontaneous day off is very rare so I'm extra thrilled to have him all to myself today! We're going hiking with our dogs and then out to dinner, so it should be a wonderful birthday!

I have to admit that I NEVER imagined I would be 29 years old and still have no children. I learned from a book I've been reading entitled, "Unsung Lullabies," written by three psychologists who have all experienced infertility themselves, that from an early age we all have a reproductive story that we've written. To quote a segment from the book....[Your reproductive story is an unconscious narrative that begins in childhood and runs through your adulthood. It is your story of how you think your life as a parent will unfold. You begin "writing" you reproductive story when you are a child, and it continues to be modified and "rewritten" as you become an adult. That your story isn't unfolding as you hoped it would explains, in part, why infertility is so emotionally painful.]

My mother had her first, my older sister, when she was 25. My older sister had her first when she was just 21, and my paternal grandmother had my dad, her oldest, when she was 21 as well. Practically all my aunts and uncles on both sides of the family had their first children by the time they were 25. I bring this up because when I was a child my family, who is very important to me, was my primary example of how to move through life. Setting ballpark examples of the timing of things...marriage, children, etc. So when I was a young girl I remember imagining that I would most likely be married and have babies by the time I was 23 or so. Obviously this isn't how things work and a lot of my generation is waiting longer than our parents did to get married and have babies, but for me, this is how I had pictured it for a long time.

So it's a little unnerving to turn another year older and still not know the sensation of pregnancy, the power of birth, or the joys (and challenge) of parenthood. Many people would tell me, and they have (trust me), to just relax and stop worrying because I'm "still so young." First of all this is the MOST ANNOYING thing anyone can tell someone who's having difficulty conceiving. It's patronizing and unnecessary. Period. Once a married couple makes up their mind that they want to have a baby and then they face years of challenge trying to get there, their age becomes irrelevant because the pain and frustration is no joke. Granted it's better to be addressing this problem at 29 vs. 39 for obvious biological clock reasons. Either way, being told to relax because of our age, especially by those who don't get it, is beyond infuriating to infertility patients...so please DON'T do it!

With another birthday at hand, I suppose it's time to "rewrite" my reproductive story yet again. So long imaginary baby that was born when I was 28 years old! Perhaps my 29th year will be the magical one!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Day 31 - Tears are OK...Today

In an attempt to stir my muse I've been reading through my old journal entries from a year ago when we were living in a cookie-cutter sub-division on the East Coast. I didn't remember how tragic all my writing was. I wrote about nothing more than the pain and anger I was enduring.

June 27, 2008 - Mowing in Pleasantville
My optimism has turned to anger like innocence to cynical. This month after month of not getting pregnant has worn me down. I do my best to show a sunny face, but down beneath I am a violent storm. A squall of frustration, jealously and anger. I want to spit at my neighbor who happily hosts a neighborhood playgroup in her back yard. I avert my eyes as I push my loud lawnmower along the property line. A sight like this makes me as hot and bothered on the inside as I am on the outside from the hours of physical labor. There are my peers smiling and socializing together, each with their own baby and what am I? Not a mother like those women, that’s for sure. I feel like the lonely, baron neighbor who doesn’t fit into her community where everyone has children. It's just one more glaring reminder of our fertility struggle.

November 5, 2008 - Obama's Election Results
We set out from the first day of our marriage trying to conceive a baby…like being on a campaign trail. So many ups and downs as we thrived on hope. The vote is in, after 18 months, we're dubbed infertile. Our doctors told us that we cannot do this on our own. We need their intervention. Instead of Obama’s, “Yes. We. Can.” all I hear in my mind is “No. You. Can’t.” I feel like I lost this election. I was not elected ‘Mother,’ and the feelings of loss are immeasurable.


After reading these, and many others like them, I allowed myself to cry big, fat tears this morning. It could be the drugs I'm injecting or the fact that I'm on my period that has me feeling so emotional. I'm sure it also has a lot to do with the fear I have of loosing the second IVF round too. It also could very well be the beautiful sounds of The Concerto for Viola and Strings in G Major I have playing throughout the house. Ever since I was a small child, at the symphony with my father, I've known that classical music has that 'pulling on your heart-strings' effect on me. It's like I'm playing the sad and dramatic sound track to my miserable journal entries...why am I doing this to myself?

As masochistic as it seems, I believe it is important not to loose track of where I am coming from and how much I've been through emotionally. I have learned a lot about myself throughout the process and right now I'm standing on stronger emotional footing because I have allowed myself to feel the ugly, and scary stuff.

Denying emotions, other than excitement about undergoing IVF (yet again) is unreasonable. Of course fear and anxiety are lurking around so eventually I will have to address them or they could rise up at the wrong time and ultimately throw me way off center. By allowing myself to feel scared and cry today I am preparing myself to be be strong and positive when I need to be...like when I'm sitting in front of my doctor asking important questions. He's a scientist not a therapist (I've learned this from our previous experiences with him) so it's best to only rely on him for the technical medical stuff and save myself the heartache when he isn't able to meet my emotional needs.

Live it, learn it!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Day 30 - Half Way Through

Today marks the mid-point of our cycle and I happened to get my period this morning too. I called my doctor and we scheduled an appointment for this Wednesday (3 days from now) to have my first sonogram and some blood work that will determine if and when I start injecting the stims. In the mean time I continue with the Lupron.

The sonogram is conducted trasvaginally...yes, that means up there. (Get ready cause I'm about to explain it and it might make you blush.) I lie back on the exam table with my knees bent and feet in the stirrups just like during a pap. (Every ladies favorite positions...right? NOT!) My doctor then places the (phallic) sonogram probe, called a transducer, into you know what. As if that isn't mortifying enough, my doctor first covers the probe with a condom and blue sonogram gel. OMG! I was horrified the first few times of this procedure, but during IVF this practice is repeated almost daily so you'd better get used to it or it's gonna be a long, awkward ride folks! So as embarrassing as it is in the beginning, it becomes very routine and by then end it's hardly a big deal. Since this is our second run through IVF I am prepared (or desensitized) for what's to come...like I said earlier, the medical process is now under our belts (no pun intended.) Anyway, the probe sends out sound waves, which reflect off body structures, ie. my ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus. A computer receives these waves and uses them to create a picture on the nearby TV monitor that my doctor can read.

During my first lovely visit with "mr. probe" my doc is checking to see that my ovaries are 'down regulated' or quiet from the Lupron injections. If they are he will give me the thumbs up to begin the shots that grow my eggies! The blood work will both confirm what the sonogram shows, and determine the amount of stimulation hormones I will inject.

It's hard to believe that in 30 days we could learn that we are actually on our way to becoming parents. IVF # 2 countdown: Thirty days down, thirty more to go!!