Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hormonal crashes

I got my period yesterday (4-1/2 days after stopping the PIO injections). I was nervous it would be a more "difficult" period, and this has turned out to be true.
 
And, since I am talking about a period, I should add a TMI warning here for any sensitive readers. :)
 
It started the night before the period arrived. I woke up about 2 hours after going to sleep covered in sweat. Completely and literally covered - so gross. I had to get up and change pajamas because they were wet. I have read about people having night sweats on clomid, but this is so bizarre because it was 12 days after my last stim injections, 4 days after my last PIO injection and estrogen patch, and I obviously haven't been on clomid for awhile. I have NEVER had a side effect from any of this until now. I have read that the drugs can stay in your system up to 6 weeks, so I guess I have to attribute it to the crazy IVF drugs.
 
On the day of the period's arrival, I felt my emotions dip, rise, and swirl uncontrollably. This day was just plain sad....sad that I was not pregnant, sad that I may never be pregnant, and sad in that general sort of way that just comes with a sad day. Hormones - ugh.
 
The period itself has been rather heavy. Last night my sleep was interrupted yet again by a full on period accident. No, I am not in Jr. High - I am just having my post-IVF period, thank you very much. So I missed sleep again to change my pajamas and clean up.
 
Good news: I think the worst is over, and I should be able to sleep well tonight.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Peace that surpasses all understanding

All things considering, DH & I are doing pretty well. I will say this at the outset - thank you so much for all of your prayers - God has been so faithful to answer them!

Those first 24 hours were very, very difficult....many tears, many prayers, many questions, and my heart felt like it was breaking. An IVF BFN is definitely a new experience (that I hope to never face again)...so much hope, money, time, and stress combined with many hormones, injections, and procedures lead to a tremendous amount of disappointment.

In the wake of the negative I also faced all of my infertile fears as they came rushing to the surface. Will we ever have children? What if our embryos never make it? What if I will never be pregnant? Even IVF didn't work work for us. The weight of these questions was and is so terribly heavy. As I write them they do not sound that bad, in a way, but I know you ladies understand how incredibly difficult it is to mentally go down that path. I want to experience pregnancy and motherhood SO MUCH, yet typing that sentence does not do that desire justice. It is not something I just "want," like a new sweater or a pleasant day. Nor is it an experience to check off a list of life experiences: go to college (check), travel somewhere amazing (check), find a job you love (check), etc. No -- it is so much more than any of that. It is a desire for an experience that is life changing, profound, and results in a lifetime of growing and learning, and makes your life completely entwined with another person....much like marriage (which is also amazingly profound). I don't know if all of this true about motherhood, but from what I have heard and read from others I don't think I'm too far off base. And when the fulfillment of this longing feels like it may not happen....it is difficult, to say the least.

But, I am amazed at how I have truly experienced the peace of God that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). Rather suddenly, many of these dark thoughts lifted. The tears that had continuously seeped from my eyes slowed down and my heart felt like hope was returning to it. I know this came from God and I am so very thankful.

On Friday night DH & I went out together. We shared a delicious meal that even included a half glass of wine (could have enjoyed a full glass but couldn't bring myself to pay $7 for one glass of wine! haha) and dessert. We went to the movies and had fun watching Al.ice in Wo.nderland. We held hands all night and simply enjoyed being together.

Saturday we went over to a friend's house for brunch. I was a little apprehensive about going, particularly because I feared a pregnancy announcement from somebody else there. But fortunately there were no pregnancy announcements. In the afternoon we did some intensive spring cleaning that felt really good to complete, split a burrito for an early dinner, and then went on an amazing walk to the beach. We had quite a bit of rain this winter (for us), so the bluffs were stunningly green, the sky bright and blue, and the temperature was the most perfect 75 degrees. We stood at the edge of the bluff looking out at the waves for a nice long time, holding hands or hugging. We are very blessed with the life we have now right before us, and I am thankful that God gifted us with such an amazing weekend to remind me of that when my heart could have been so tempted to miss seeing any of it.

It is also helpful to know we get to try again. I am sure the stakes get higher with each attempt, but I am very thankful God has given us the desire, funding, and open doors to proceed again.

After we hung out with friends on Saturday morning at the brunch - along with 3 small children who were there - DH commented that, for the first time, it was hard to feel like an outsider looking in on other people's families. Before we started TTC - and even in the early days of TTC - we could enjoy seeing and talking about other's pregnancies, children, etc. because in the back of our mind we could say, "I should remember that for when I am pregnant," or, "I wonder if our kids will have that issue, too." But it is harder when you have to be part of all of that discussion and the simple expectation that it WILL happen is gone. However, as were driving away and DH brought this up he said, "We will get pregnant, Hillary. I think God will hear our cries, and we will keep doing IVF until it happens." Now, I don't think this means an unlimited amount of IVFs lay in our future - my husband is seriously conservative with money, so this was a funny thing to have come out of his mouth - but I understood his sentiment behind it. Our journey is not over.

Another bright spot of hope was a personal phone call from my RE on Saturday afternoon. I confess I had already worked up a little bit of anxiety in my mind that when we sat down for our follow up appointment with the RE that he would somehow tell us our embryos were terrible and there was nothing more he could do for us. So it was such a burden lifted from my mind to hear him say he was so sorry the cycle failed, but that he was very hopeful that it will happen for us - it is just a matter of time. Music to my ears, I tell you! Of course, he cannot know for sure nor do we truly know the end result of all of this - only God does - but hearing your doctor who sees hundreds of infertile couples a year say he thinks it will happen is very encouraging. I am so thankful he called, and thankful to have him as my doctor.

All in all, I am feeling hopeful, thankful, and joyful... mixed with moments of sadness. It is strange to write that only a few days after our BFN, but I know it is the work of God in my life. Thank you, again, for all of your prayers!

Friday, March 26, 2010

11dp 3dt: The end

This is what my husband had sitting on the table for me when I got home. He is not usually a flowers or gifts kind of guy, so this was extra sweet and thoughtful of him. It totally made me bawl and he could hardly understand what I was saying when I called to thank him because I was crying so hard.

Beta today confirmed the negative HPT, although they didn't call until 4:45 (and I went in at 9:30)! I wonder if they leave the "bad news" calls for the end of the day because they are less fun than the "happy news" calls. Anyway, the nurse said to call for a follow up appointment with the RE, so I guess we will go from there. DH and I think we would like to wait until May to cycle again.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

10dp 3dt: Heartbroken

I'm not pregnant. Thank you for all of your prayers and well wishes.

I almost titled this post "no miracle," but that is not true. There were many miracles throughout this cycle, and I am thankful for each one. The miracle of all of the love and support I received, the miracle that I responded nicely to the medications after some up and down monitoring appointments, the miracle that the spotting stopped, the miracle of 4 mature eggs retrieved, and most of all the miracle that we actually had two beautiful and precious embryos. Life that was part me and part my husband was in my body. It was a joy and I am so very thankful for the time that the Lord gave us with our embryos, as strange as that may sound.

There were many miracles, just not the one I was hoping for tonight.

I have my beta test tomorrow to confirm the HPT.

A verse that came to mind as I laid in DH's arms crying tonight:
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:7-9

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

9dp 3dt: Thankful

Whatever the outcome of this cycle, I have been so thankful and blessed by the support of many wonderful friends. I wanted to post this before finding out the results, because these sentiments are 100% true whether or not I am pregnant...but I might not feel like writing a 'happy' post if I'm not. :)

First and foremost, I am thankful for all of YOU. Who else could I share the nitty gritty details of monitoring appointments, follicle sizes, meds, ER, embryo size and quality, and all the emotions that come with each? Who else would understand what all of it even means, let alone relate to the roller coaster that is an IVF cycle and infertility? Thus, you ladies were my go-to on the crazy days to help calm me down, and my cheerleaders on the happy days to celebrate with me. You helped me to hope, you prayed for me, and you were always there for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I cannot say it enough. But thank you. :)

I have also been incredibly blessed through the love and support of many IRL friends. They may not understand exactly what I am talking about, but I had 6 friends who were avidly interested in caring for me through the process. They prayed, sent me encouraging emails and texts, and celebrated with me when we made it to ET. I have one friend who was in between jobs who drove down with me to the RE's for one monitoring appointment. While I was home for two days after the ET "taking it easy," the same friend brought me lunch and hung out with me. Another friend came by later in the day with a little goodie-basket of things to do while resting at home. I feel like these examples of "fertiles" being amazing friends to an infertile are somewhat unique from what I read on your blogs, and I know I am so very blessed. So thank you to my amazing friends (who don't read this, but I also sent them thank you cards!).

I am so very thankful today.

(Nothing new or interesting on the symptom front. The only thing I have going on is the sore b.oobs.)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

8dp 3dt: A little apprehensive

No news today, really. No news is good news? I hope so.

I am thankful this week is really full....I have something every night until Thursday night, which helps to pass the time as each day drags slowly by. Thursday night, however, is wide open and DH & I are planning to test that night. I decided I want to be together when we find out, and have time to mourn or celebrate whatever the outcome. Then I will go in for the beta Friday morning to confirm the news.

Br.easts are still sore, but not overly so. I have felt an off and on crampiness since 6dp3dt that is both hopeful and terrifying, as I'm sure you can imagine cramps are.

I have been, overall, very happy, hopeful, and stress free this two week wait (that is really only 11 days total). Knowing we had two embryos was such a joy that carried me through. However, apprehension of testing is starting to creep in and my nerves are moving into high gear. I want this to be so positive so badly, but I am scared it won't be. I am praying a lot that the Lord would give me trust and peace.

PS- I'm posting this a day late but back dating it to the correct day. Sorry if I made some of you think I had tested :) Your girls are the best, I would definitely come on here and tell you the news right away! xxoo

Monday, March 22, 2010

7dp 3dt: Perspective

I awoke today (after yet another dream) hoping to feel different. After all, today (10dpo) seemed like the day many people use a home pregnancy and get a positive result. I'm not testing yet, but certainly if I could test today I should feel something, right? You know, symptoms or something.

But I didn't. And I started my morning off sad.

I drove down to the RE's office for a progesterone and estrogen blood test**. It was obviously a quick visit with only a blood draw, and as I was waiting to check out I was sitting next to a couple holding their ultrasound pictures. They were happily talking to a nurse, and it was easy to figure out that they were expecting twins.

I congratulated them, and they told me they were a result of IVF. I said I was in the midst of an IVF cycle and hoped to be in their position in few weeks.

The husband then said to me (he said the actual letters): "Have you gotten your BFP yet?"

Oh my! This made me giggle inside - his wife must be out there in the IF blogworld or web boards, and taught him this most coveted acronym. But I don't think my DH would have any clue what a BFP is! :)

Seeing their joy mixed with my own giggles over the "BFP" comment lifted my mood. As I drove home from the RE, I had to sit back and get some perspective on this whole "symptom" thing.

First of all, I am not really a symptom kind of person. I never have any side effects from any medications (including the dreaded clomid), I don't have allergies, and I rarely get sick. I have no idea how I would feel pregnant, but I very well could be one of those people who doesn't feel the pregnancy side effects.

Second of all, it is still really early. I was talking to a pregnant friend over the weekend, and I asked her when she first started feeling any symptoms. She said, "Really early with this one." I thought I was doomed - she had symptoms "really early" and I felt nothing! Fortunately I was smart enough to ask her how early was early, and she said, "Oh, about 4 days after my missed period." Ah, yes....I'm over a week away from that.

All this to say....I don't really have any symptoms (except the PIO br.easts) and I am trying to be ok with that and not give up hope. Thank you to all of you who shared your own symptomless pregnancies or have similar "symptoms" to what I have had...it helps me maintain my hope in these last days.

Before I sound like I have risen above the whole symptom thing, I do have to add that my br.easts seem to hurt more today. I think this is what has actually made me feel hopeful today. Honestly, I think my emotions and perspective are at the complete mercy of my br.easts. Lord, help me. :)

**These results came back "normal" and I am staying on the same dose of progesterone and estrogen. I didn't ask for specific numbers because I decided it would be better to not have that to worry and stress about.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

6dp 3dt: Dreams

Last night I had 3 very different yet vivid dreams.

The first took place at my RE's office. I didn't have my beta results yet, but I was certain I was not pregnant and so was the RE somehow. We had a meeting that was incredibly discouraging, and he essentially told me our embryos were terrible and he didn't know if I would ever get pregnant, but we could try IVF again if we wanted. I started crying and went to the bathroom to collect myself. When I came out, the RE was now meeting with one of my 16-year-old youth group girls. I was shocked but didn't want to interrupt, but was also jealous of how happy they both seemed to be and how casually she spoke with him.

When they were done I asked her what she was doing there, and she said, "I'm doing an IVF cycle! I just got 17 eggs and 16 grew to embryos. We're freezing all of them."

"Why?" I asked in shock. She went on to explain in dream like logic that she had some disease that would make her unable to have kids later on, so she was stocking up her embryos now. And she used d.onor s.perm, of course.

I was so jealous of her, her young eggs, and 16 embryos for the future. Dreams are so weird.

The other two were less interesting, but a brief synopsis is that in one there were 3 small earthquakes in one night, and after each one we called some friends of ours who are engaged. In the other, I sat next to a girl on a bus who was trying to evangelize. Somehow I ended up loudly reciting the verse of John 3:16 to the entire bus.

***

Not much in the way of "symptoms" today. Very mild br.east tenderness continues from the PIO, but I worry at different times that it is gone or going away. Appetite is back to normal. A few twinges in the abdomen this evening. Gassy. :)

***

I find myself day dreaming about what news we will receive at the end of this week. Part of me just feels like it has to be positive after seeing those beautiful embryos. Yet another part of me knows that people have beautiful embryos all the time that don't make it. And all I've ever known is negatives.

As DH says multiple times a day now, it would be so awesome if I was pregnant. A miracle.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

5dp 3dt: Imaginings

Last night I woke up briefly and thought I may have felt some ever so slight crampiness. I went back to sleep and dreamt that I woke up feeling completely nauseous, and ended up throwing up constantly in my dream. But I was so happy because I felt like if I was throwing up I must be pregnant.

This morning I awoke to not an ounce of nausea, and the crampiness was gone. I also felt like my br.east tenderness had decreased. However, after poking all day I think it has returned {but this may be due to all the poking}. Although one br.east feels more sore then the other?!

I did a ton of walking today - hopefully that's ok for the embryos. :) I had a great morning shopping with a friend and got some cute things for amazing prices, and then went to a beautiful wedding in the late afternoon. Weddings are such a profound, life-changing celebration and DH & I always leave feeling so blessed and thankful for our marriage, and today was no exception. The venue was an amazing park on a hill in our city that has views of the mountains AND the ocean, but we had to walk up quite a little incline to get there. Hence a lot of walking today.

After getting home and putting my feet up, I feel the slight crampiness again. However, it is so slight I would not even notice if I were not analyzing every twinge in my body. Maybe I always have this same crampiness but don't normally notice it.

Also, I was still pretty hungry today, although not as crazy hungry as yesterday.

***Disclaimer: Feel free to ignore my symptom over-analyzing posts. These are just my crazy IVF musings, and I love having a record here in my blog. But don't feel like you have to comment - I know there's not much to say. ***

Friday, March 19, 2010

4dp 3dt: so hungry

  • I have been ravenously hungry for the last two days. But especially today. No, I don't think it's a pregnancy symptom - still too early for that. So what medicine is this a side effect of? PIO? I read that steroids can increase appetite, but I finished my 5 day course of Medrol on Wednesday. Delayed onset, maybe?
  • In light of the above, I just scarfed down some chips with Tr.ader Joe's Queso Dip. So good, so not healthy, but I want so much more. I'm resisting by typing this post.
  • Tonight DH & I are going out to dinner for our date night. I can't wait for a yummy dinner. I think the Queso dip made me want Mexican food, but we had that when we went out last week... so maybe we should diversify.
  • I tested out the trigger shot today. I only had 5,000 units of HCG in my trigger, so I thought it may be out of my system by today, and it was. I don't know if I will test before my beta or not, and part of me is scared that I just set myself up to do so because I won't have the will power not to.
  • I feel like it's too early for any symptoms, but the fact that I don't have any symptoms has already made me feel a little scared. I have loved knowing that our beautiful embryos were inside of me, but what if this is just like every other cycle and ends in a BFN? No cramping, no implantation spotting, just random hunger that actually seems like the opposite of an ealry pregnancy symptom.
  • Overall, I have been SO HAPPY this week. And very hopeful. I asked DH if I am setting myself up for a huge disappointment by being so happy and hopeful, and DH told me to just enjoy it and not play mind games. But he doesn't know what the tww does to the mind.
  • I am thanking the Lord for each day I have with my embryos and praying he grows them.
  • I am still hungry.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

3dp 3dt: Let the crazies begin

For those of you unfamiliar with the IVF lingo, the title of this post means that I am 3 days past a 3 day transfer. If this were a "regular" trying to conceive cycle, that would translate to 6 days past ovulation.

Which, in my mind, also equals the last day before the two week wait crazies begin.

For the record, the PIO has already given me br.east tenderness and a degree of sleepiness. I have been sleeping really well at night! These side effects started the day after the egg retrieval, so they are definitely not pregnancy symptoms.

According to what I have read, implantation should be occurring between today (Thursday) and Monday. With this potential implantation also comes the potential of early pregnancy symptoms, imagined pregnancy symptoms, PIO side effects, or no symptoms at all. Any of these options could easily make me batty with hope or despair.

Welcome, second half of the two week wait! At least you bring me closer to knowing whether or not this has resulted in a pregnancy, even if you do like to torture me in the meantime.

****
A few of you asked whether or not I have experienced the soreness from the PIO shot, and the answer is YES! Despite the ice beforehand and the heating pad after, it seems my lower back/ upper bottom region just feels constantly bruised. And it gets worse each day. Any other tips out there to ease this would be appreciated, although it really only is a mild discomfort {so far?}.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A PIO love story

My first PIO (progesterone in oil) injection was given to me the day of the egg retrieval by one of the nurses -- and while I was still asleep. This was a nice little surprise to know we had one less to do ourselves, considering I have read so many horror stories of the PIO and this would be DH and my first venture into IM injections.

One day past transfer, my ILs came up to spend the weekend with us. This was partly to help distract us from the agonizing wait until the embryo transfer, but mostly to utilize my MIL's nursing skills for the PIO shot. The plan was to have her administer the first one while teaching my DH how to do it, and then he would do it on his own the next night under her supervision.

The evening PIO time arrived, and I assumed my face down on the bed position. I was a little nervous (again, have you read some of the horror stories?), but overall I do not fear needles so I was hanging in there fine. MIL showed DH how to draw out the medicine, change the needle, etc. I had iced the area, and she told DH it helps to hold the skin taut while inserting the needle. Just as she was about to take the plunge, DH interrupted.

With full confidence and assurance he said, "I want to do it. This is my job and I'm just going to learn first hand."

This made me a little nervous - I liked the idea of MIL the nurse giving me the injection more than DH, who had only given me one sub-q injection....and that had freaked him out. But he insisted, and so MIL handed over the syringe.

In one confident, deft movement DH stabbed me with the needle. I felt almost nothing. All nerves went away. Soon it was over, and DH was celebrating like a proud sports star who had just scored the game-winning goal.

As I sat up he looked me in the eyes and said with so much love, "I am so proud of you. You are so brave." And I knew he not only meant this one shot, but for all of this: the IVF shots, the ER, the appointments, the emotions, and our infertility as a whole.

I responded with equal love, "I am so proud of YOU. You did an amazing job with that shot and I feel completely safe with you doing this for the next 10 days....and hopefully 8 weeks beyond."

And then we kissed while MIL looked on happily.

Who would have thought one little PIO injection could stir so much love, admiration, and respect? Perhaps we can't make a baby the "old-fashioned" way, but we are a loving team working together in hopes of bringing our child into the world. I am thankful for the PIO and the role it allows DH to play in this process.

And, for the record, DH has been a PIO pro ever since. :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Embryo transfer - so happy and blessed!

DH & I have just been so, so thankful today. Although there were many bumps along the way that caused some anxiety and fear, this cycle has unfolded almost as perfectly as we could have hoped for. We feel very blessed, and thank you all SO MUCH for you support and encouragement along the way.

Out of the 3 eggs we ICSI'd, one fertilized normally, one was a "maybe" (only 1 pronucleus), and one was abnormal. I was so nervous today that I would get a call that the other two had stopped growing! Our appointment time was at 10:45am, and somehow I decided that if I didn't get a call by 9:45am we probably had at least one embryo still alive....but then I had no idea what the quality would be.

DH & I went out to breakfast before our appointment, and I counted down the minutes to the arbitrary 9:45am deadline. When it came and went I breathed my first sigh of relief.

I breathed my second sigh of relief once we arrived and signed our transfer consent form. After moving me to the transfer room, undressing, and beginning to agonize over my full bladder, we were so happy and relieved to find out that we had one beautiful 8 cell grade A embryo and one 5 cell grade B (the 1pn one). The embryologist seemed to indicate that she didn't think the 5 cell was a strong contender, but the RE said he has seen pregnancies with embryos of that quality. Either way, the sight of our 8 cell embryo brought me to tears (it really was beautiful), and I am hoping the 5 cell could be a fighter who makes it too. :)

After they told us about our embryos, showed us the pictures, and left the room, I cried a little and DH kissed my face over and over. We were both so very happy, and prayed for our two little ones to keep growing. It was a sweet moment that I will treasure always.

The procedure itself went really smoothly, and the nurse afterwards said it was a "perfect transfer." Those words were music to my ears. We could {kind of} see them on the screen as they were transferred, although both DH & I had a hard time figuring where we should be looking and what to look for. But it was still amazing. :)

I found the ET way more unpleasant than the ER simply because of that darn full bladder! It sounds crazy to say I preferred anaesthesia and a needle in the va.ginal wall to something akin to an IUI, but it sure is difficult and uncomfortable to have a full bladder. The nurse had me release some of it at one point because she said it was really full, but even with that I think I laid on that table for an hour and a half for prep time, procedure time, and post transfer time feeling somewhat tortured. They said I had to lay there for 20-25 minutes after the transfer, and I was determined it could not be more than the 20 minute minimum. I had DH watch the time on his phone, and the moment it hit the 20 minute mark made him go find a nurse.

So I now have two embryos that are hopefully snuggling up inside of me!The only bit of sadness (that is so small it is almost not worth mentioning), is that they forgot to give me a picture of my embryos that I had asked for! I forgot to ask as we were leaving, too. I wish I could post a picture to show them off to you. :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Can't stop thinking about my embryo(s)

Is this what it's like to be a mom? I constantly find my mind wandering to the lab an hour from my house, wondering how my embryo(s) is/are doing, and then praying that they are dividing and growing strong. I woke in the middle of the night last night with these thoughts, and could not sleep until I had spent a nice long time praying for them. I have also been seeking to entrust them to the Lord who is the creator of all life.

But I can hardly think of anything else.

After researching embryos with only one pronucleus (which one of our two fertilized embryos had yesterday), I found an article that said 90% of those are genetically abnormal. Since then I have been thinking we will only have one embryo to transfer....but I still pray for the second one just in case. But hopefully I won't be too disappointed if we only have one.

Of course, we may have none to transfer and this has been a lingering fear. When the nurse called today to tell me the time to arrive for my ET tomorrow, I was so scared she would tell me our embryos had stopped growing. However, she said to show up at 10:45am....and I assumed no news is good news. I didn't want any more information to potentially obsess over. I am thankful to be doing a 3-day transfer...knowing we may only have one or two I feel better about them being in me than in the lab.

Tomorrow at this time I will hopefully have an embryo or two in my uterus. Please, Lord, grow our embryo(s)!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Fert report!

Got the big call about our first report! All 3 of our eggs fertilized, but one fertilized abnormally and is out of the running.

Of the other two, one is a "2 pronuclei" (I think that's the term he said) which is right on track, and the other is a "1 pronuclei" which may or may not be normal and is still being watched.

We are relieved and thankful to have 2 that fertilized! Working with such a small number is nerve-wracking, and we knew going into this mini-IVF that we were more likely than most IVFers to have none to transfer. We are praying that these 2 continue to grow, and are at least thankful they fertilized!

Is day 3 a big make or break day in terms of their continued development? Also, it sounds like we *may* be doing a 3 day transfer (I got all this info on my voicemail so I couldn't ask), but when would they tell me that?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Home from the egg retrieval!

Happy day!

Although it did not start off so happy. :) I don't typically write about things like this in my blog out of respect to my DH, but since it effected this big day I want to. We had a huge fight on the drive down to the RE's office, and while we are not perfect (ha!) and do fight, we don't fight very often...which made this extra upsetting. I just felt so discouraged that we were having an argument today of all days. I started feeling like we didn't even deserve to be parents if this is how we were acting. We had to go into the RE's before even resolving it, and all I could to was pray to Lord to have mercy on us in all our selfishness and sin!!

Thankfully, we were able to kiss and make up a little through some expressive eye contact as they took me back to get set up for the ER. The nurse anesthesiologist was amazingly friendly, and I could tell she saw it as part of her job to help the patient feel as calm and comfortable as possible before, during, and after the procedure. She did a wonderful job at calming me down, which I was especially thankful for after a rocky start to the morning. The ER room was actually quite comfortable - a super padded table, pillow, a heating pad that had warmed the table, and a blanket. I got to keep the heating pad on me, too. :)

The RE stopped by briefly to say hello, and went to see one other patient before my ER. In this window of time the nurse began the anesthesia, and that first feeling of wooziness is such a strange one. Of course, the next thing I knew I was in the recovery room, groggy but feeling fine. They brought DH in, gave me some gatorade, and monitored me for a little while longer. I felt so happy that we had gotten some eggs, and quite relaxed thanks to the meds.

I am a little confused about how many eggs we actually got, but, ultimately, it was well within the range we were hoping for (which was 3-5). When I woke up the nurse told me 4, but the RE later said 7 but that not all of them were mature or good-looking. Either way, we are thrilled and thankful with our {most likely} 4 eggs. I can't believe I spent most of the time stimming worrying that we may only get 1-2. And, Betty, you get a gold star - you commented back then that you would play armchair RE and guess we would get more than the 1-2. You were right. :)

DH & I were then left with the decision of how many to fertilize. After talking to the RE, praying, discussing, almost deciding on 2, talking to the RE again, and praying again, we ended up deciding to ICSI 3. Thankfully, we have a lot of peace about the decision. Although our RE does not share the same beliefs that we do about the beginning of life, he has been wonderfully supportive in wanting to do this in a manner that we are happy with. He thought 3 would be a reasonable number to give us the best chance of success while still ensuring we would not have any "extra" embryos, but also said the actual likelihood of having all 3 fertilize and then grow is very, very small.

Now we wait and see if any/ how many fertilize and grow. We are praying that 1-2 of those egg and sperm combos are viable and would grow to become a healthy baby (or babies)!! I was expecting to feel some anxiety about fertilization and embryo growth, but so far I am just so thankful and relieved to be here - done with stims, done with the ER, and with some eggs to work with. Not that any of it was ever in my control, but I have this deep understanding at the moment that whatever happens from here on out is completely in the Lord's hands and not mine. It is comforting and freeing to know, and I am praying I hold onto that truth and turn from fear and anxious thoughts.

Oh, and about that fight? DH & I were completely over it once we saw each other in recovery. I think for me a lot of it stemmed from the stress of the day, which we think also rubbed off on DH. We were a hungry, sorry, stressed out couple of infertiles who had lost some perspective at the moment and let our selfish natures take over. Thankfully we were able to see this after the fact and had a real make-up over lunch. :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A miracle

Seriously. The spotting STOPPED. A miracle.

I had been lightly spotting for about 36 hours when I posted yesterday. After the RE gave me that "worst case scenario" warning, I was definitely scared. I knew everything was still ok, but with my history of spotting I could easily see things moving downhill fast. I asked for prayer from all of you, my husband, and MIL.

I also started drinking a lot of water. My friend at Adding to the Pack had some spotting issues in early pregnancy, and posted about drinking a lot of water as an attempt to get it to stop. As she says in the post, she labeled it in the "can't hurt might help" category, and (coincidentally?) her spotting lessened. As I was freaking out yesterday I remember this post (thanks KK!) and decided to give it a shot myself.

Within an hour of the call out for prayer and increased water drinking, the spotting had stopped. Of course I was cautious and going to the bathroom all.the.time to check (and because I was drinking so much water!)...but it has been almost 24 hours with NO SPOTTING.

I told DH about all of this last night and he laughed, "So it was either God or water, huh?" I am definitely attributing it to God and I am so, so thankful. As I cried yesterday I poured out my heart to him, and I am so thankful for this reminder that he is with me through this and hears me. He is powerful and can work in my infertile body. Now, God may also be using water...who knows? If he is he had me read KK's post a few weeks ago and remember it yesterday, so I am thankful for that, too.

And, of course, I am VERY thankful for each one of you and your thoughts and prayers. To get comment after comment of each one of you joining me in prayer....it was amazing and encouraging. God heard our prayers, friends! Thank you!!!

****
I triggered last night at midnight. As midnight approached I got really nervous about triggering. Not about doing the shot itself - I had done trigger shots for my IUI's - but I think all the stress of the cycle leading up to the trigger and the unknown of what lied ahead made me feel anxious. As I sat alone in the dimly lit living room my heart rate increased steadily, and all I could do was pray.

I then remembered this verse from Philippians 4:6, and felt comforted in my soul: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

****
Now that the trigger shot is done, the spotting has stopped, and I have a day "off" from injections and RE appointments...I am feeling a big sigh of relief and thanking God for a day of rest. I am also praying for trust and peace that surpasses all understanding with all of the unknowns that will unfold in the next week. But it is so nice to have the stimming stage behind me - I made it!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Urgent prayer request: Triggering tonight

The spotting has continued. It is still really light - more like
brownish cm - but my lining looked a little effected by it today.

My RE is still having me trigger tonight, and the ER is still set for
Friday morning. But he said if the spotting gets any worse he would
want to freeze the embryos and do a frozen cycle next month. If we are
not ok with freezing the embryos, our only option would be to cancel
the cycle.

Please, please, please pray with me that the spotting would stop! Or
at least not get any worse. Thank you, friends.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Monitoring Appointment #4: Almost there

Last night just before bed I went to the bathroom and saw some brown-tinged CM. I am all too familiar with spotting and the pattern it takes, so this little bit of almost nothing made my heart sink. I crawled into bed. DH was reading beside me, but I didn't tell him. Instead I fell into a fitful sleep. We had a windstorm throughout the night, and the howling wind and my anxious thoughts kept me awake.

I am praying that God would help me to trust him, but I am so scared of every appointment and what "bad news" it could bring. Lord, help me.

****
However, today's appointment was a good one. The first thing I did was tell the RE about my spotting, and he dismissed it and said brown doesn't really mean anything. He said my lining looks perfect and not to worry. But he said if I ever can't sleep again because I'm worrying I should just call him. I don't think I would be so brave (or inconsiderate?!) as to actually call him in the middle of the night unless it was more serious, but I thought that was so sweet of him to say.

I can't believe how different things look day to day, and how that has effected me emotionally each day. A roller coaster really is the best description of an IVF cycle.

My follicles: 21, 20, 15, 13, 12.

Based on my E2 yesterday my RE thinks there may be 3 mature ones, so the 15 could be catching up. I think I learned my lesson about making assumptions during an IVF cycle - things just change too much! So even as I type this I know we could get 3, or we could get 1. I'm trying to hold this loosely and trust God (as I mentioned above).

My nurse told me everything has turned out perfectly for what we wanted out of this cycle. Maybe she just said this to make me feel better - but it worked. :)
****
At lunch today I had another negative bathroom experience. Infertility treatments make going to the bathroom a thing of dread! This time the spotting was pink, but I've never really had that color before in all my years of spotting.
The nurse called a little later to say to stim just a little bit more tonight (75ius of Follistim with the Ganirelix), come back again tomorrow, and I will trigger tomorrow night for an Egg Retrieval on Friday. I'm so thankful to have made it this far. I told her about the pink spotting, and she said not to worry - that my lining looked good, and the RE would double check everything tomorrow.
The roller coaster continues.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monitoring Appointment #3

I have a so many thoughts - I don't know how accurate they are and they might be all over the place, but thanks for letting me just get them out there.

1. After 6 nights of stims it looks like I will have 2 follicles (size 20 & 19mm). I have 4 smaller ones I think (at 12 & 13mm), but the RE thinks we're looking at retrieving 2.

2. This is ok because we are doing mini-IVF. My impression is that my RE is not thrilled with my response and originally said we were aiming for 3-5 eggs, but he said we weren't trying to get a lot of eggs so he is ok with 2. He thinks the first few the body produces tend to be the best quality anyway.

3. Since we are only fertilizing as many eggs as we would potentially transfer (no freezing), we were going to decide whether to fertilize 2 or 3 in hopes of having 1-2 embryos to transfer. Well, it looks like God is making that decision easy for us and for that I am thankful. It's funny to only want to potentially fertilize 2 and be sad to get 2, I know. But I guess it seems different to make that choice because my body did great and we have a few eggs to choose from, then to realize this is all we have... if that makes sense.

4. I am still freaking out about my body's response and feeling like it was sub-par. I hate that my FSH is 10.9, had dominant follicles, and didn't respond great.

5. I am trying not to freak out about my body's response because we are doing mini-IVF and I can't compare everything to other women's cycles.  So maybe my response isn't that bad. I haven't asked my RE a ton of questions because I just want to let this cycle play out without freaking out about everything (at least in front of him, haha), but this will definitely be interesting to hear his thoughts on afterward. But I have to remember that I may have a different protocol and med dose because we were doing a mini-IVF....so maybe this is ok within that.

6. I am thankful we have made it this far and that it looks like we will, indeed, have 2 eggs to retrieve.

***

Thank you SO MUCH for your support along the way. I am trying to remain positive about our two eggs. I go back tomorrow and Wednesday, and the RE tentatively thinks my ER will be Friday.

Please pray that we do get 2 mature (but not overripe!) eggs at the retrieval and that they would both fertilize and grow. :)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Monitoring Appointment #2 :)

Thank you all so much for your prayers and encouragements! The prayers seem to be working - my response looked much better today!

Follie check #2 after 4 days of stims: 1 at 16, 1 at 15, 1 at 13, 1 at 10, 1 at 9, and 6 at 6mm.

They are having me start Ganirelix tonight to let a few of the smaller ones catch up to the big ones. I am dropping my Follistim dose from 225ius to 200ius, and adding 75ius Menopur.

No RE has said this so this could definitely be me over-analyzing everything (and potentially incorrectly - forgive me), but I think my issue is that I get a dominant follicle very early in the cycle. In this case it's 2 dominant follicles, but I wonder if that's why my RE said we may only get 1-2 eggs this cycle? You can see that 2 are quite a bit larger than the rest, and this is a negative thing in an IVF cycle (I think). It's also something that happens to poor responders, which I think I am starting to just accept that I am (almost?) a poor responder. But the Ganirelix drug should help this situation, and I do have at least one more at 13 that I am hoping will catch up. This would give us the three we were praying for!! And not to get greedy, but maybe the 10 and 9 could catch up to? :)

I am so relieved things seem to be going ok. I go back on Monday for follie check #3, and am still praying we get 3 good eggs. I am thanking God that it looks a little more possible today, that I am calm and content, and we have the rest of the weekend to relax.

Friday, March 5, 2010

What's an IVF cycle...

Without an obligatory meds photo?

So here they are in all their glory. It's really not as impressive as many of you have, but I'm pretty proud of it. Haha! One funny thing is that the only drug my nurse talked about was Follistim, so I honestly thought that was the only med I would be using plus the progesterone I already have. Needless to say I was shocked when I spoke with the pharmacy to go over my order and she went on and on about all these medications.

Thanks for all of your encouragements on my last post. I am feeling better today, and while I can't say I'm looking forward to my monitoring appointment tomorrow, I do think I will be a little more prepared for it. As much as I have read about IVF in books and all over the internet, there are the details like, "How many follicles would be good to have after 2 days of stims," that I just had no clue about. And how different it is when it's YOUR cycle. Thanks for the prayers!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Monitoring appointment #1

As this cycle has begun I have felt like I have hit the ground running. This past weekend we were away at a high school winter camp with the youth group we volunteer with, and I'm sure you can imagine how little sleep you get. :) It was an exhausting weekend, but a really great time with my girls.

After camp I thought I had at least a week before starting stims. Instead, I came down with a nasty camp cold and started stims on the same day (Tuesday). Fortunately, I am already through the "I just got hit by a train" phase of the cold and am now in the congested and a little under the weather stage. But those first few days of the week were rough, and as excited as I was to start my IVF cycle, I felt so tired and wiped out it was a little overwhelming.

As I type this I have completed two days of stims and had my first monitoring appointment...and I have already cried about how my IVF cycle is going. I have heard over and over that IVF was a stressful process, but I thought I had a few more days until that hit me!

But after 2 days of stimming at 225iu of Follistim I had two follicles (11 and 10mm). My AFC is 10 and FSH is 10.9, so I never thought I would be an amazing responder. But after hearing every doctor say that my age would help and they weren't worried, etc., it was completely devastating.

The RE said, "It's still early so I can't say for sure, but we may only get 1-2 eggs this cycle." Um, seriously?! We're doing Mini-IVF so our goal was only 3-5 eggs, but 1-2?! He may just be preparing me for the worst...and hopefully we do get a couple more...but I could tell he was disappointed.

When I met with the nurse I asked her about it and she said we're on track and we didn't want a lot of eggs anyway. But I couldn't help but feel like my cycle was already going poorly and that I am a "poor responder." I cried the whole hour drive home. I know this sounds extreme, but I felt like I just lost 10 years of my fertility today. And who knows what will happen with this cycle. I am just praying, trusting God, and trying to remain calm.

BUT, I am so thankful for the internet and infertility support groups! I posted on a message board I participate in, and got a ton of responses of people who had similar situations and everyone told me it is still way too early. Many people said they had 1-2 follicles at day 3 or 4 of stims and ended up with 6 at ER. So I was reassured that it is still really, really early. I'm continuing on the 225iu's of Follistim and will go back on Saturday.

Despite my disappointment that my reproductive self acts a lot older than it actually is, I am trusting God. And who knows, maybe he is just making the decision about how many eggs we fertilize very clear for us. I know many of you have said you are praying for us, and I ask that you would continue to do so. I am praying we get 3 eggs, and that I would have a trust and peace in the Lord as I face these potentially emotional monitoring appointments every other day. Thank you!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

IVF #1 is a GO!!

And we're starting tonight.

Starting as in starting stims tonight.

No birth control pills like originally planned.

I was almost in shock after my appointment today! The RE said he reviewed my HSG from July and said it was actually a really good picture of my uterus, so he doesn't feel the need to do the SHG. I don't know if that's why we're skipping the birth control pills, but I'll gladly follow the doctor's orders.

However, I hadn't ordered my meds yet. I was still secretly hoping for a break cycle BFP, so why should I buy expensive meds when there was that small chance I wouldn't need them? When I confessed this to the RE & my nurse, I felt like a bad school child who had been irresponsible about doing her homework, haha! I don't think they saw it like this, thankfully, and amazingly another patient had just donated an unused 900iu cartridge of Follistim over the weekend, so they gave it to me for free! So in the end the earlier start date is a huge blessing and saved us quite a bit of money. I feel so blessed!

My blood work was a little disappointing...but I just have to keep reminding myself that the doctor said I may have a low quantity of eggs but the quality should be good based on my age. I hope so. And ultimately I keep reminding myself that God is in control. My E2 was the lowest it's ever been (which is good!) at 31 (I think it was around 87 & 68 before), but my FSH was the highest it's ever been at 10.9 (previous tests were 8.7 and 9). I had to laugh a little that they keep saying "anything under 10 is fine..." but when my nurse called today she said, "We like to see it under 12..." I could tell she really didn't want me to freak out and immediately reassured me when I said that it keeps going up. Ah well. :)

We're praying for God to use this IVF cycle to give us our miracle child, and I know he CAN work around some lazy sperm and a higher than I would like FSH. Thanks to each one of you for your prayers and support!