Sunday, February 28, 2010

Almost there

Well, it's not quite cycle day 1. Despite my worries about getting my period on Friday, it's now late Sunday night and, despite the spotting and general crampiness, it still hasn't fully started! I'm 99% confident it will be here by tomorrow, which pushes my cycle day 2 bloodwork back to Tuesday.

I'm not sure if this little delay will push back the whole IVF schedule? I hope not, but I also feel completely confident it's not worth stressing over a couple days here and there.

I just wanted to give you all a quick update since you were probably expecting a slightly more exciting post about my first official IVF #1 appointment. I hope you all had a great weekend!

Friday, February 26, 2010

No miracle today, but...

After testing this morning, I determined there will be no miracle break cycle BFP for me. I was praying for it, but I am not crushed. It certainly would have been nice, though. (That is quite an understatement).

I now turn my prayers to asking God to perform that miracle in our IVF cycle! Next time I post, my period will have arrived and I will "officially" have started my IVF cycle. Eeek!!

Also, it's almost 11:00am on Friday and no period is in sight. Whew.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Wouldn't it be nice....

...to be able to schedule important cycle dates like your period or ovulation?

While I am still hoping and praying for a break cycle miracle this week, I am also planning on the definite possibility that my period will arrive. Originally I had thought this would happen Thursday or Friday, and was instructed to start birth control pills on cycle day 2. Easy plan - no problem!

However, a few days later my nurse called and said they actually wanted me to come in for baseline blood work (and ultrasound? I can't remember) on cycle day 2 or 3 before starting the birth control pills. This sounds like a very small change of plans that would usually only entail moving a couple things on my calendar, but this weekend we are going to winter camp with the youth group...two and half hours away from my RE. And as much as I want to do everything 'perfectly', I can't justify a 5 hour round trip drive that would take up most of my day! If that were the case, it would almost be better not to go to camp...but I don't want to miss it.

I then remembered my little friend progesterone, who has been so wonderful to keep the spotting away; and, conveniently, has kept my period away until I stopped taking it. The only day I absolutely do not want to get my period is Friday (cycle day 14) because that would make cycle day 2 and 3 fall on the weekend I'm away. So my plan is to take the progesterone all day on Friday and hope that solves the problem.

Of course, my body has been known to have a mind of it's own, so we'll see if it will cooperate with my scheming.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Choosing faith against cynicism

This morning I work up to some mild br.east tenderness and suddenly remembered that I am in a two week wait. Nine days past ovulation, to be exact. It is easy to forget details like this on a non-treatment cycle. Then I thought:

Ah, who cares how many days past ovulation I am. I'm not pregnant.

How could I be pregnant after 26 {negative} attempts already?

We're about to start IVF. People who need to do IVF can't get pregnant without medical assistance.

I felt the cynicism creeping into my heart. The part of me that wants to laugh - ha!- at the thought of getting pregnant, and scoff at anyone who could imply that I could possibly get pregnant.

BUT - how can I laugh, scoff, and deny the powerful God I serve?? Because he certainly and easily could open my womb any given month with or without an RE. The God I serve is the author and creator of life, and I want to continue laying my request before him that he would, indeed, create a life within me!

I want to have faith that I could be pregnant. I want to hope in my good God, and not let my dark thoughts steal this hope from my heart. I want the simple fact that God could perform this miracle to make me marvel at who he is....whether or not he chooses to do so. This is my prayer today.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

On the mend

Four trips to the ER, three rounds of IV antibiotics, two oral antibiotics, two days of bed rest, and one dog bite later....I am happy to report DH's leg is looking much, much better.

It has been a wild week. As many of you pointed out, animal bites can be very serious, but we had no idea! The doctor said there is a high rate of infection for dog bites, and DH fell into that group. Last time I posted (Monday night) we had gone back to the ER for the first round of IV antibiotics, but the next day the redness and swelling continued to spread to the point that he even had a red streak beginning to go up his leg. We went back again for another round of IV antibiotics (Tuesday night), and the doctor said he had to stay home, laying down, and with his leg elevated for the next two days or he would have to be admitted to the hospital. Fortunately all the medications and bed rest have worked wonders and his leg shows almost no signs of infection today. We are very thankful!

We have been joking about what all of this may have done to his sp.erm as we gear up for our IVF cycle. DH even laughed that the red streak was aiming right for his gr.oin! I do wonder what any of these heavy duty antibiotics, the x-ray, and doctor ordered leg soaking baths (I tried to tell DH to not use hot water...) may have done. But I guess since we're doing IVF it doesn't matter quite as much, and I'll just have to trust God with the timing of all of this.

And DH sure did enjoy his baths - he's seriously missed taking a bath these last two years.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Nurse consult and more dog bite drama

Today was the much anticipated IVF nurse consultation, and I was so happy to walk away with a tentative schedule! I'm doing an Antagonist-type protocol (although she didn't mention Ganirelix?) which is really short - my expected ER is around March 23! I'll add the tentative schedule to my sidebar. :) (Confession: I already looked at what my expected due date would be based on the ER date if the first IVF was successful...)

Other than that it was a pretty uneventful appointment, and I don't think DH needed to be there. We went over the fees (which I already had done), and then went over my calendar. I don't think DH paid much attention - it was probably almost like listening to a foreign language to him.

The bigger drama of the day was the dog bite. They had told us that dog bites have a high infection rate, and that even though DH was on a heavy duty antibiotic right away, to watch it closely during the first two days for signs on infection. Well, while were at the RE's this afternoon we noticed it was really red and swollen, and the area looked larger than it had before. We headed back to the Emergency Room around 4:15pm, and they took one look at it and said it was a good thing we came back.

Over the course of four hours DH was administered two different antibiotics via an IV. They also took an x-ray to make sure there was no tooth embedded in the skin (there wasn't). The red/ swollen area did not increase at all, but it also didn't get any better. The doctor said DH could go home tonight and then come back for another check-in in the morning, or get admitted to the hospital. We didn't really understand why he needed to be in the hospital, and she made it sound like she could get us in if we wanted him to be there...which we definitely didn't. If it doesn't look better tomorrow she said they would admit him to the hospital! DH also had a very mild redness/ itching allergic reaction near the end of the antibiotics, so he got a dose of heavy duty benadryl via the IV just before leaving. He's knocked out in bed already thanks to the benadryl.

We're praying everything checks out ok tomorrow and he doesn't have to get admitted to the hospital! It's funny because nothing about this seems "hospital stay" worthy, but we need to make sure it doesn't get serious I guess. Praying that the antibiotics do a lot of work overnight!

DH's parents are also freaking out a little about the liability of the situation, and they said that our health insurance company might go after the dog owner's home owner's insurance to cover these medical bills. But what if they are renters and don't have homeowner's insurance? At this point we're just trying to get DH better, and we'll deal with annoying insurance stuff later. *sigh*

Crazy Valentine's Day

Happy belated Valentine's Day! What, if anything, did you do?

My DH and I are pretty low key about it, and just view it as a day to do something a little special and be together. Our plan was to go out to breakfast before church, church, relax in the afternoon, make dinner together, and then see a movie. I was looking forward to our "date day." :)

During the afternoon DH went for a jog. A few blocks from our house he began to run by a girl (18, maybe?) walking her German Shepard on a leash. As he passed the dog, he said he suddenly looked down and the dog was biting his leg!!! He yelled and had to punch the dog to get it off of him! How crazy is that?!?

He went to a random person's house to call me to come pick him up, but when the number came through on my phone as "withheld" I didn't answer. Oops. He called again and I didn't answer. He was a little annoyed at this, but I told him if he would have left a message with the phone number I would have called him back right away. :) The people ended up just giving him a ride home, and he walked in limping with blood all over his leg.

We went to Urgent Care, but it was closed on Sundays, so we had to go to the ER. He had 4 "puncture" wounds on his thigh that were bleeding and swollen, but his leg wasn't torn up or anything. Fortunately the ER was really quiet and we hardly had to wait. They gave him a tetanus shot, cleaned the wound really well, and prescribed antibiotics.

We also had to report the dog. Thankfully DH had thought ahead and got the owner to write down her name, phone number, and address. The owner said this was the first time the dog bit anyone and that he had had all of his shots, so I *think* the dog might just be quarantined for a week or so?

We still managed to do all of our Valentine's plans and had a nice day....with a little bit of craziness added!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The temptation

As I begin to prepare myself for an IVF cycle, I have read many "old wives's tale" type treatments to "boost your odds" during an IVF cycle. Eat pineapple core on certain days, drink pomegranate juice, drink wheatgrass, eliminate a host of things from your diet, take DHEA...and the list goes on. I can't really find any scientific studies proving any of these things (not to say there aren't, but I haven't ran across any as easily), but there are many anecdotal stories out there about women with multiple failed IVFs who used x in their last attempt, had much better quality embryos, and conceived.

Today I found myself browsing Amazon looking for wheatgrass tablets. Supposedly they improve egg quality (and thus embryo quality), and since we are only fertilizing a limited number of eggs I thought it couldn't hurt to try. Just as I was about to put it into my shopping cart, I had to pause. How much are all of these "solutions" playing on my fears? Fears that these are our last attempts at a biological child....and we're paying a lot of money....so what if it doesn't work? Of course I want to do anything it takes to improve our chances of success, but where is that line?

With the Amazon page still open, I told DH about all of this. He could definitely understand my reasoning and fears, but he also doesn't want me to suddenly go crazy adding a million mysterious new things to my diet. And, being the engineer that he is, he wants to see proof that any of this would help. We agreed to ask what our RE recommends adding to or eliminating from our diets/ supplements at our nurse consultation, and then follow their guidelines.

What about you? Have you tried any less-conventional interventions to improve your odds of success? How did you decide which ones? I in no way want to imply that it is silly to do any of this, because, clearly, a part of me is ready to hit the grocery store to get every last "special food" that might help. And it certainly wouldn't be too difficult or strange to start drinking pomegranate juice... :)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Weekend highlights

On Saturday night DH & I went to a film at a film festival. We went with his cousin and her fiance who knew the producer/ writer of the film and got us in. I was prepared for something "artsy" that would either be really dark or really offensive, but fortunately it was actually an interesting and enjoyable movie.

Oh, and we saw Hila.ry D.uff in person. Not that I'm a huge fan (I think I'm too old to be!), but it's still pretty neat to say. She stood in the front of the theater and was about 5 rows away from us. :)

*****

On Sunday we had dinner with a couple in our church who are elders. Their middle son is 16 and in DH's small group. We knew they had experienced infertility and have received prayer from them at church, but we didn't know their story. Fortunately, the topic came up right away and we received tremendous support, understanding, and encouragement. They tried to conceive for 5 years and had 3 miscarriages in that time (all late in the 1st tri) before conceiving their first born. They had their own funny stories about shots, doctors, and procedures. They even offered to fast with us one night a week and said they are praying continuously for us! I am so thankful for the tremendous support we have received.

****

No new pregnancy announcements last weekend. Whew. :)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Peace

I scheduled our IVF Nurse Consultation Appointment for a week from today (Monday). It worked out perfectly because DH actually has the day off for President's Day!

I am so excited and have experienced so much peace about the decision. Thank you all for your excitement and encouragement in my last post - I felt like you were celebrating with me. I can't stop thanking God for bringing us to a decision relatively quickly. January felt loooong and hard, but in the big picture it was only a month of waiting and praying for guidance. DH & I were laughing yesterday that DH had prayed a week ago Sunday that we would have clarity by the next Sunday (which was yesterday), and at the time I thought DH was crazy for even thinking we could have a decision made by then. Ha! God heard our prayers and answered, and for that we are very thankful.

Yesterday I said the words, "We're doing IVF" to somebody other than DH for the first time. It was rather surreal.

I'm guessing I'll start a new cycle at the end of this month, which is when I will then start birth control pills. Maybe the actual ER/ ET will be in early April?! I hope I'll get more info and a general timeline at our appointment next week.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A glimmer of hope and clarity

I walked into the RE's office with my stomach in knots. DH was unable to leave work today so I went solo, and the moment I sat down in the lobby I texted him: I'm here. Pray for me. I knew the appointment could influence us in our decision making, and I think I was so tense because it could make us decide to not do IVF....or leave us in the exact same place of indecision.... or maybe even help us to decide to do IVF. Either way, it felt big.

Dr. H gave me a lot of hope. He said that even with limited fertilization, he would still give us 50% odds of success! (I will explain this more...) I was not expecting this at all, and hearing that our odds could be this high made me want to cry and laugh at the same time. I think a big part of our hesitation about doing IVF is that, ethically, we are committed to doing a limited fert and we knew this would lower our odds. But how could we pay that kind of money for low odds? But here he was saying our odds weren't that low...

I called DH on the way home and explained this to him. I also told him about the discount the RE offered after I told him we were looking at other clinics that offered "Mini-IVF" at a special rate. Immediately, DH said he thinks this is the clarity we have been waiting for, and that he thinks we should seriously consider moving forward. And I couldn't agree more.

After all this time of angst and waiting, I can't believe we reached a turning point just like that. Thank you, Lord! We feel like the Lord has removed our hesitations, has made our paths straight, and opened the doors before us. Wow.

Some of you were curious about my RE's answers to my questions... here they are:

*What would you say our odds of success are with IUI's at this point? 10% per cycle. He has had couples continue with IUI's beyond 4 cycles and get pregnant, so we could still have this as an option.

*Odds of success with IVF and limited fertilization (important because we know it would lower our odds, but by how much)? 50%. This one took some explaining, since I definitely thought it would be less. I typically read that a regular IVF cycle has 50% odds of success for most couples, so I couldn't believe that a Mini-IVF cycle would have the same for us. But, in my RE's opinion, he would place our odds at 60-70% of success if we were doing traditional IVF since I am the same age as many of his egg donors, and he thinks the sperm will be fine once it can actually get into the egg. He said that my egg quantity is probably a little low (based on FSH & AFC), but he would guess that the quality is fine based on my age. Along with this, he said something I have never heard or read before: that the first few lead follicles that every woman has when they start a medicated cycle are typically the best quality eggs. He calls these eggs the "baby eggs" that most often produce the top graded embryos. The smaller follicles that catch up to the lead follicles can produce good embryos, too, but not always...and the best ones are usually those first few. So, in his opinion, our odds are not that much lower because we are using the best eggs.

I should add here that DH and I have considered that he may be "overly optimistic" in order to get our business. We know this is a possibility, but overall we trust our RE. He may be inflating the percentage somewhat, but we do not feel like he is lying....which is a big difference to us. These odds are guessing games anyway, but we trust his is an educated guess.

*I have found clinics that do "Mini-IVF" (with minimal stim drugs), and that seems like a good fit for us since we don't want many embryos anyway. What's his take on "Mini-IVF" for us? Does his clinic offer something like this (especially at a lower rate)? Our clinic doesn't advertise a "Mini-IVF" cycle, but this is essentially what we would be doing. He would do mild stimulation to produce 2-3 eggs to fertilize. He thinks this is the best option for us and did give us a discount. I don't think the discount is because doing things this way is actually cheaper, but just because I said I was also looking at other clinics and he was being competitive in a business sort of way.

*If we did traditional IVF, would he recommend freezing extra eggs? Does the clinic "flash freeze" the eggs? What have been the success rates with frozen eggs? Our clinic does freeze eggs, but he said it is such a new science that he can't recommend it. He said that have frozen a number of eggs, but only two customers have come back (so far) to use their frozen eggs and neither resulted in a pregnancy. He said if we felt like this was a good option for us he would freeze the eggs and not charge us. Based on what he said, I don't think this is something I want to hope for...but maybe if we got 4 eggs, fertilized 2, and froze 2 (for free) it could be an option.


*What's my antral follicle count? My FSH was 9. What do those diagnostics mean for me/ treatments? Are those a concern for him? My AFC is about 10. He did admit that that is lower and my FSH is higher than most women my age, but he emphasized the fact that these tests show quantity not quality...and he would still bet my quality is good. He also said there is no way to use these tests to predict if/ when my fertility will decline , I would go through menopause, etc. I'm ok with this answer, and I just can't worry about what the future of my fertility is. I just can't.

*Should I get my AMH tested (although, honestly, that test and its potential result freak me out...and I heard it's expensive, so I don't know if I even want it...)? No, he thinks that the test results would not change our treatment plans, so why go through the extra money and stress? If we were deciding whether or not to use donor eggs, for example, he would recommend it, but in our case he sees no need to test it.

So there's a detailed breakdown for you. :) I can't say we're at 100% confidence about moving forward, but it's approaching that level. I feel a lightness and hope that I couldn't even imagine during this past month. I feel the peace that I have so earnestly prayed for - thank you Lord! I know that many difficult days could lie ahead, and the thought of doing 3 IVF cycles and still remaining childless sounds more painful than I can even imagine. But, today, I am moving forward with hope.

Interestingly, I got another (!) pregnancy announcement via email today. I knew this friend was trying and actually had asked her to email me the news so I could process it. Well, I got that email this evening....but it didn't sting as much. A little hope is a great buffer for pregnancy announcements.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

RE appointment tomorrow

A couple days ago I decided to make a consultation appointment with our RE. He's said that after three or four IUI's we should talk about IVF, but we haven't actually sat down and had "the talk" yet. I wasn't at all motivated to have this appointment until this week, and I can't say I am looking forward to it in the same way that I've looked forward to past RE appointments, but I'm glad it's here.

Questions I want to ask:
*What would you say our odds of success are with IUI's at this point?
*Odds of success with IVF and limited fertilization (important because we know it would lower our odds, but by how much)?
*I have found clinics that do "Mini-IVF" (with minimal stim drugs), and that seems like a good fit for us since we don't want many embryos anyway. What's his take on "Mini-IVF" for us? Does his clinic offer something like this (especially at a lower rate)?
*If we did traditional IVF, would he recommend freezing extra eggs? Does the clinic "flash freeze" the eggs? What have been the success rates with frozen eggs?
*What's my antral follicle count? My FSH was 9. What do those diagnostics mean for me/ treatments? Are those a concern for him?
*Should I get my AMH tested (although, honestly, that test and its potential result freak me out...and I heard it's expensive, so I don't know if I even want it...)?

Question for any of you
: Do you know of a clinic that offers "Mini-IVF" at a promotional/ discounted rate? We're willing to travel if the price is right. I know that, technically, it's not necessarily less expensive for them to do this, and that the actual monitoring, egg retrieval, and embryo transfer would be the same as a regular cycle (so the only "cheaper part" is less spent on drugs). But I have found some clinics that are offering "Mini-IVF" at a discounted rate (perhaps to attract business), but it is difficult to find many through a search engine. I'd love to have some clinics to compare, so if you know of any let me know! Feel free to email me at makingmemom@gmail dot com if you don't want to name a clinic/ your clinic in this public space. Thank you!

I should also add that, at this point, I'm not interested in "Natural IVF" (no meds) since I don't trust my body's natural ovulation/ hormone levels and feel like I am better off with the drugs. :)

****
In somewhat related news, I unexpectedly started my period today. Hello 22 day cycle!?!

So as it turns out, I will be on cycle day 2 when I go to the RE tomorrow. I wasn't expecting to do anything for the next cycle since we still felt so undecided...and we still very well might not...but it's a little tempting since it will be cd 2 anyway. We'll see - I have to talk to DH tonight.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Seeking confirmation

As I pray for clarity in this decision making process, I confess I do not feel settled at all about the idea of stopping treatments. And, honestly, I don't know what to make of that.

After I thought God may have spoken to me and told me treatments wouldn't work, I think I assumed that after a few days or weeks of mourning I would begin to feel some peace coupled with excitement/ hope for another path. But I don't.

Does the fact that I still so greatly desire to have biological children and continue treatments show that I do not have confirmation that what I heard was God? I know that God can give us desires and change our desires...but how important are those desires as we make this decision? (These are all completely rhetorical questions that I don't expect you to answer, but I'm just letting you in a little to the mess of thoughts that are in my head).

****
My MIL told me this week about a time that she very clearly thought God was speaking to her. She was pregnant with my DH, who was her third child and a joyful surprise. She said that during that pregnancy she thought God told her that the baby would have D.own's Sy.ndrome. She said she saw so many signs and felt like God was preparing her to parent a special needs baby. Of course, she was very surprised when her son was born and he did not have D.own's.

She told me this story to give me another perspective on my experience, and I have been thinking about it. I do absolutely believe God can speak to us. And I absolutely believe he could tell us something difficult, surprising, etc. But it was helpful to hear her story and be reminded that it could be our own voice speaking, so we need to continue to seek God and wait for confirmation and guidance to be assured whether or not it is him or us speaking.

This month off has been so good to get my bearings and wait on the Lord. He will lead us.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Emotional Sundays

I have discovered over the last few weeks that the most emotional day of the week for me is Sunday. I think one obvious reason is that during the week I have my "regular life" to distract me - work, commitments, and general busyness that doesn't leave much time to sit and think. However, the weekends are much more open ended.

But an even bigger reason is that it's church day, and the emotions that come out while at church are so widely varied. Many times I have sweet tears of joy at the reminders of the tremendous hope I have through my salvation that transcends my current struggle. Church is an amazing time to refocus my heart on what is most important, to rejoice, and to hear God's word that is a balm to my soul.

Along with these sweet emotions are the painful ones that just come with living life with people...especially fertile people. A lot of fertile people.

Last night, our pastor came up to me after the service and said he was continuing to pray for us. A piece of background info is that my DH had emailed him a couple weeks ago to say that we were "leaning against IVF at the moment, but continue to pray for us as we seek clarity." (And, by the way, I was a little upset that DH even emailed him at all - it made it seem like we were closer to a decision than we actually were). Anyway, the pastor asked me how I've been doing since we "made the decision." I got incredibly flustered. I knew it was just a miscommunication, but the thought that he thought we were for sure not doing IVF made it feel real. Like suddenly the decision was made (which I know is not true, but I freaked out). I made the ugly cry face that happens when you try to hold back tears (oh, lovely) and told him I couldn't talk about it right now, but it's a struggle. I didn't clear up the misunderstanding - I just couldn't in that moment.

I grabbed DH's arm as he was finishing a conversation and tugged on it, indicating that I was ready to leave. I felt like I was about to burst into tears and needed to go home. We started to head out and were followed by two sweet friends of ours. It seemed like we were just leaving at the same time, so we walked out to the parking lot together and made small talk about our weekends. As we get to our car, they paused.

"We wanted to walk out with you to give you our news in private so that we could be sensitive to you. We're pregnant. We wanted to tell you first before you heard from anyone else, and we've only told our immediate families so far."

I stood there rather stunned - I knew they had been trying a few months, but she had confided in me that she was scared it would take a long time, had really irregular cycles, etc.

Through tears I choked out, "I really am happy for you. I'm so glad it wasn't as difficult as you were expecting. I'm happy for you and am just crying because you guys are so sweet and caring."

I was so embarrassed to be crying, and felt like I was robbing them of some of their own joy at their sweet miracle. The wife said she had been crying off and on all day at the thought of telling us, and cried when I cried. I know this is their own loving, empathetic natures and not because of anything we have ever said or did, but it is still hard. I want people to be understanding and compassionate about our infertility, but when they are I feel guilty. I want them to be over the moon happy with their pregnancy - not crying because of us.