Monday, May 31, 2010

Change is in the air

I quit one of my two part time jobs this week.

I feel incredibly relieved, but I also cry every time I think or talk about it. I had been considering it for a long time (as evidenced by an August 2009 post), and this last BFN spurred me on to actually quit.

I had always imagined I would quit this job when I got pregnant, but after this BFN I needed to separate the two. My job did not have to be linked with pregnancy. In fact, I needed it to NOT be linked to pregnancy any more. Each BFN was that much harder because I was not only grieving the failed cycle, but I also felt trapped to keep working.

But I cry because I am quitting and not pregnant....which wasn't "the plan."

My boss was really great and understanding about it, and the process of leaving will take some time. We will have to find a replacement who I will train, and I don't really know how long this will take. So the change is not immediate, but it is on the horizon.

I also cry because I am scared of what lies ahead. I need a change of jobs, but the only job I really desire is to be a stay at home mom. DH & I have decided I will continue to work about 15-20 hours/ week at my other part time job, and fertility treatments can be my other "part-time job." If those end and I am not pregnant, we will re-assess and I may get another job. I cry at the thought of not being pregnant and having to look for another job....but also cry at the thought of not having enough to do.

When I made the decision to quit, I thought I would write a rather celebratory post telling you I was finally making a change I had been longing to make. I have been happy at my job overall, but each month that went by it was more and more difficult to continue working there. I have a deep sense of peace and relief that I have quit, and know God will provide for me in my next steps whatever they are.

I simply did not expect this to be such an emotional decision, nor did I realize just how much my job has been tied to my dreams of pregnancy. Quitting has felt like I am admitting to myself that a pregnancy may never happen. And I had to admit it. But it's been really painful.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Grief

I am really fortunate to be able to say that at the age of 29 I have not experienced much loss in my life. Really, only two big events in my life have triggered much grief.

My first experience of deep grief was in high school. I was in a long-for-high-school dating relationship, and at the beginning of my senior year we broke up. Even writing that seems so silly, and admitting that this was my first foray in the pain of loss is a little embarrassing. But the heartbreak of losing my first 'love' coupled with the turmoil that is being 17..... I'm sure you can relate. And to add to the pain, this relationship was very unhealthy. So ending a jealous co-dependent mess of a relationship was....well, messy. In that season of my life I remember the sadness that often overwhelmed me. Of having to leave class to go to the bathroom to cry, of coming home from school and getting into bed to cry some more, of losing my appetite and losing 10 pounds that I didn't even have on me to lose, of feeling so alone....they were dark days. Grief.

My second experience of grief was the death of my beloved Grandma when I was 21. I had lost two grandparents previously whom I dearly loved and mourned their passing, but losing this grandma hurt my heart so deeply. I always think of her as my kindred spirit, and one of the few people in my family to truly know me, understand me, and love me. She was special to me as a child, and as I grew into an adult I would love to just be with her. A couple weeks before she passed away, I knew her health was declining. I remember going to the hospital by myself to see her. I held her hand and we talked like we always did. As I was leaving, she said, "Hillary, I hope God blesses you with as wonderful of a life as he blessed me with." I walked out of that hospital sobbing, cried as I sat in rush hour traffic for an hour to go pick up my mom at work, and bawled as I hugged my mom when I got there. Soon after my college school year started, but I had planned to return home the first weekend to see my Grandma. My friend drove me down, and as we neared the hospital I called my mom to ask if we should meet them at the hospital or their house. My mom tried sound normal, but I knew the moment she answered. My grandma has died during the night. I remember the intense emotion that made me feel physically ill. I laid on the bathroom floor sobbing all day, sure I was going to vomit. My head pounded. Those first few days of grieving are intensely painful. I only wanted to be able to go to sleep and wake up when time had passed, but I had to live through those days. Thankfully, the sadness does ease over time....although I still have moments when I start crying because I miss my Grandma. Grief.

After IVF #2's negative, these muted and somewhat forgotten feelings of grief emerged. As I cried & DH held me, I wanted him to understand what I was feeling. I know he does know on some level and hurts as well, but he does not feel it like I do. The only way I could describe it to him: It feels like death. Like somebody died. Grief.

I'm sure many, many people have written about grief and described it much better than I can. And I'm sure you have experienced your own losses and know the feeling that I am alluding too. It is such a different feeling than many of my other infertile feelings - it is not simply sadness, fear, anxiety, or loss of control. Grief is almost unbearable, and in the midst of it all I can do is cry out to God and pray he would release me, heal me, and carry me.

And although I do not have much experience with it, I can say that God has always been faithful to answer that prayer. Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning - Psalm 30:5. I hold on to this promise.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

IVF #2 Follow up appointment

I went into my WTF appointment today with a decent list of questions, but honestly I have been pretty happy with how both of my cycles have played out....minus the BFNs, of course.

Turns out my RE is in agreement with my assessment that other than the fact that I am not pregnant, he has been really pleased with my cycles and sees no red flags. He didn't think there was a need for any of the testing or surgery options I asked about. He wouldn't really change anything if we cycled again and thinks it's just a matter of time.

So, I don't know. Part of me feels like a "bad" IFer for just accepting that we've had "bad luck" for two cycles, but I am really content to trust my RE on this. DH & I wholeheartedly trust him, and we know by limiting fertilization we may not have picked the "right" egg each time. And there really aren't any other tests to do that I have seen listed that would change our treatment plan. (ie I asked about sperm fragmentation testing, but the RE asked if that would change what we would do (ie donor sperm or stop treatments)? No, it wouldn't...) Any suggestions on testing I haven't thought about?

So, the plan is to use our frozen eggs and do a frozen cycle. This was the only thing I was not expecting - I thought we would move forward with another fresh cycle because the odds are better. But he thinks we should give it a try with the frozen because it will be easier on us and cheaper.

He said we could get going on a frozen cycle as soon as I get AF, but I'm not sure about it. First of all, after every medicated cycle I spot for the ENTIRE month afterwards. I forgot to mention this today, so I'll give the RE a call, but that seems problematic for an FET, right? Also, I just don't know if I would be crazy to jump right into another cycle. Honestly it gives me a little hope back to start right away, but another part of me wonders if I should take time to heal from the last BFN. Decisions, decisions.

Oh, and I'm also going to start doing acupuncture! He gave me a few suggestions for acupuncturists when I asked, but only one is in my city. I looked her up and she left the practice she used to be in and now is a "substitute" for other acupuncturists or does house calls. I'd rather go to a regular clinic and also be able to use my insurance, which I *think* will cover the acupuncture. So...I googled and found a few places that say they specialize in infertility, but how do I know? Suggestions?

Lastly, I guess after two failed IVFs the RE gets worried about your emotional state. He asked us a number of times how we are doing and offered to refer us to counseling. He also offered to discount the FEggT after he discusses it with the administration, and did not charge us for today's appointment. And the nurses all smiled at is apologetically as we walked through the hall. I think we will be getting some extra special attention from now on...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Recovery weekend

Beta today confirmed all the HPTs over the past few days - IVF #2 is negative. WTF is scheduled for this Wednesday.

I know "strong" embryos don't automatically equal a BFP, just as "slower" embryos don't automatically equal a BFN...but it is really hard for us to wrap our mind around the fact that we had two nearly "perfect" 3 day embryos transferred. In fact, one of them was almost advanced to where it would be at day 4 at the morula stage. And yet, here I sit still not pregnant. How can we ever do any better than that?

It is a good reminder that God is the on who gives life, though. He did not give life to our morula or 8-cell embies, no matter how "good" things look to the medical world.

The sadness has overwhelmed me in waves, and I was thankful to have a weekend with very little activity to have time to let myself cry and pray. Some of the high points and low points of the weekend:

  • On Friday DH & I went out to dinner at our favorite Indian restaurant and spent the evening discussing some changes and plans for our future. One difficult aspect of infertility is feeling like my life is on hold and I'm stuck, and this BFN spurred us on to not wait for that elusive pregnancy to make some changes in our lives. I'll share more about what these are in another post.
  • There were times this weekend that I just couldn't let myself think. If I thought about much of anything I spiraled downward into fits of crying that were nearly unbearable. So I did a lot of reading, planning for non-IF things, and even resorted to playing solitaire on my phone to just have something to take my mind off of things. (That sounds so unhealthy, ha! But I did also think and pray sometimes, too. I just couldn't bear too much of it).
  • I think both DH & I feel like the reality of never getting pregnant is very much before us. On Friday DH was very discouraged, but on the upside he said he felt more hopeful for our next cycle again on Sunday. It takes some time, I guess, and I hope by the time we do cycle again we will feel more hopeful.
  • We told the handful of people who knew about our cycle that we would find out the results today on beta day. It was nice to have this weekend with just the two of us to process the news and not have to talk about it with anyone else.
  • Two people from church who did not really know that we were cycling right now separately emailed me and said the Lord really put me on their heart to pray for this weekend. I am humbled and amazed at how God works and thankful for the extra prayer support.
  • One of my high school students got baptized on Sunday, and this was a huge highlight of the weekend. It was also a good reminder of the other more important things of life to celebrate.
  • And the special highlight: On Saturday, DH spent the day editing some old video footage. When he told me he was going to do this, I jokingly said to him, "Oh, why don't you edit our wedding video?" This has been an ongoing joke because we had a friend of his shoot the raw footage at the wedding, and DH was supposed to edit it. Well, it will be our 5th anniversary next month and I thought he would never do it. Apparently, he was editing our wedding video to give to me on our anniversary next month! However, DH is not very good at surprises because he gets too excited, and when he saw me really down Sunday night he wanted to show it me to cheer me up. I was so excited to watch it, and we both bawled through the whole thing (twice). We were so very happy on our wedding day, and we are still so happy together, so in love, and so blessed that God has given us to each other. They were mostly happy and thankful tears, but also a little bittersweet as we saw our innocent happy selves of 5 years ago but felt the sadness of the disappointment in our current life. But, mostly, we were reminded of the gift God has given us in each other. It definitely cheered me up and we went to bed cuddling, happy, and with no tears. I wish I could show you (boo to DH's no picture rule, haha!) because it was really sweet.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

9dp3dt: Confession

I tested tonight.

BFN. One line.

Please don't tell me it's too early. I know it's true.

I have been storing up the "sad" Psalms in my notes so that I could turn to them on tough days. I read all of them tonight.

Thank you, as always, for walking through this cycle alongside me.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

8dp3dt: Calm

The storm has passed. My anxiety has lifted and I feel very calm. Hopefully it's not the calm before the storm. :)

I am still symptom-less, but somehow I don't care about that as much now.

In my mind, I live simultaneously in both the BFP and the BFN world. One moment I am planning when our WTF appointment will be and wondering when we would cycle again, and the next moment I am figuring out how many weeks pregnant I will be when we go to summer camp, our friends wedding, or Christmas. It is a strangely seamless transition in my mind between the two possibilities.

I was very tempted to take a home pregnancy test yesterday after getting really discouraged about the low progesterone result. I thought, "I-already-feel-terrible-now-so-maybe-this-will-make-me-feel-better-but-if-not-how-much-worse-could-it-make-me-feel." But then I decided it could make me feel a whole lot worse and was still really early, so I fought the temptation.

DH is quite the pee-stick tempter. He doesn't bring it up if I don't, so he only tempts me in my moments of weakness. Fortunately I had already peed (in the toilet) by the time he got home and tempted me yesterday, so I had nothing to use anyway.

But I think we will test Saturday morning. Yikes. Yippee. I'm not sure how I feel about that? But I did put yikes first.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

7dp3dt: low progesterone

First of all, thank you SO MUCH for all of your encouraging comments, prayers, and Bible verses you shared with me. I felt so uplifted and don't know if I could have made it through these last 24 hours without you all. Yesterday I just felt such a heavy burden take over my heart....and the weight has lifted some. It is still there, but the load is lighter as I continually seek to give it to God and am lifted up by all of you. So, again, thank you.

I had progesterone/ estrogen bloodwork today and my progesterone came in "low," although it was just a voicemail so I don't know the exact number. They are increasing my PIO dose from 1m/L to 1.5 m/L.

I have had progesterone issues in the past, but for IVF #1 I had the bloodwork done at 4dp3dt and it came back fine.

This definitely felt like another blow today. I just feel like the cycle is already over...and these next 6 days are going to go by so very slowly. I have read enough online about progesterone to know that it can fluctuate, levels do not indicate whether or not there is a pregnancy, etc...but it is still scary that it was low. And maybe the drop in progesterone corresponded with the complete disappearance of what few 'symptoms' I had. I have had zero today...no sore bre.asts, no cramps or twinges in the uterus, and normal energy levels. I feel 100% normal.

Anybody have low p4 during an IVF cycle? Any success stories?

Monday, May 17, 2010

6dp3dt: Deja Vu

I am really struggling to remain hopeful today. I loved all of your comments from yesterday's post...and they got me through a good portion of today. I loved how Selma said, "I was 100% sure my IVF cycle didn't work because I had no unusual or early pregnancy symptoms. In fact, I was sure it felt like every other failed treatment cycle....In retrospect I wish I had had more hope." (Thank you!)

But....I just feel like I can't do it. I feel like I my hope is slipping out of my grasp. I can't hold onto it anymore.

I think the main trigger for this is that my PIO sore br.easts have disappeared...around the same time they did for IVF #1. It just feels like deja vu and I am scared.

I want to be hopeful. I know in my head that I could still end up pregnant. But all I want to do is curl up in a ball, cry, and brace myself for testing this weekend by praying that God would have mercy on me in my suffering.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

5dp3dt: Happenings

  • First, happy birthday to my sweet DH! He turned 27 today and it was fun to celebrate with him.
  • We had a very full weekend with family. We spent Saturday with my family and today with DH's, so it's nice to finally be home. Although we are about to head out for a late-on-a-work-night viewing of Robin Hood with friends....
  • I am mostly continuing to feel really positive and hopeful about this cycle. "Symptoms" are the same as IVF #1, namely PIO sore br.easts and some mild cramps/ twinges in the abdomen. I will add that the PIO br.east tenderness did not start on the day of ER like it did last time. This cycle, I actually had really sore br.easts once I triggered, but they disappeared after the ER and did not return until 3dp3dt. Different might be good? (See the flip side of this mind game below)
  • Only new "symptom" is that I was really sleepy in the mid-afternoon yesterday and today (4dp & 5dp3dt) and fell asleep as DH and I drove all over the place. However, we also did a ton of driving and I could have just been lulled to sleep by the car ride...
  • I went back and read my tww "symptom" posts from IVF #1, and have to admit that made me a little sad. I feel pretty much the same as I did then. Which also means I feel almost completely normal. And...well....we know how last time ended.
  • But - and this is a big but - I know it's still early. And I can't help but hold out hope that God is growing our precious embryos!! So I am attempting to not play the symptom game. Bottom line is I just want to feel different this tww....but different could still mean a BFN. So the real bottom line is that I am just praying for a BFP! :)
  • I hope you all had a nice weekend and I look forward to catching up on your posts.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

2dp3dt: These are a few of my favorite days...

(You should read the title to the tune "These are a few of my favorite things..." from Sound of Music. That's what I'm singing in my head.) :)

Yes, the day of the ET and the 2 days after are my favorite part of the cycle. I feel so happy and blessed to have two precious embryos in my uterus. I get to rest after much physical and emotional stress the last couple weeks. I get time off work to be a couch potato without feeling guilty. Ah, these are the good days!

Mostly, I love the tremendous feeling of hope that this cycle could end in a BFP....and praying to God out of hope and excitement is such a joy!

Tomorrow I go back to work and re-enter the real world. I will also soon be leaving behind these carefree days as the the two week wait progresses into symptom analyzing and anxiety. I am going to try to not analyze too many "symptoms" this time, but I just don't even know how it would be possible to not do. We'll see.

Thank you for celebrating my two embryos with me!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Home from Embryo Transfer :)

It is so nerve-wracking walking into the office not knowing if either of the embryos are still dividing, and what state they are in. Last cycle I was so unsure we would have any that were even still growing since we only had one fertilize normally, and by the time I knew we had at least one I somewhat assumed it was low quality. I was shocked when we had an 8-cell grade A embryo for IVF #1.

Now for this IVF, I had that expectation of having an 8-cell from last time that I was nervous I was setting myself up for disappointment. I reminded myself that many people get pregnant with less than 8-cell embryos, that God is in control, and that I would be thankful for whatever he gave me.

The embryologist walked in, and I saw the pictures in his hand. One of them looked more like a blob than an 8-cell, so my heart sank a little and I figured it must be low-quality. However, he said that was a really nice looking embryo that had advanced to the compacting morula stage already!! Oh my gosh!!

Our morula, graded A/A-:



He then showed us our second embryo, which is an 8-cell! We are so blessed, I can't even believe it! This one does have some fragmentation, so it is not graded quite as high, but even if this is all we had I would have still felt so happy and blessed.

Our 8-cell, graded B:



I was also amazed at how perfectly smoothly the transfer went. Last time it went well, too, but this time it was incredibly quick and I hardly felt a thing. I also did not over fill my bladder like last time, so I was much more comfortable. The Valium really kicked in this time (I hardly felt any different with it last transfer), so I was super relaxed and actually fell asleep during the time they had me lay on the table after the transfer. DH held my hand the whole time and kissed my face.

I can't believe how blessed I am. I can't believe how hopeful I am. I am thanking God and praying he would continue to grow these two beautiful, precious embryos!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Fert report!

DH & I were talking this morning and decided there are 4 huge milestones in an IVF cycle:

1. Make it to ER and retrieve some eggs - check!
2. The eggs fertilize - check! :)
3. The embryos grow and make it to ET - pending
4. A BFP at the end - pending

We are feeling so thankful that we have made it through two of the milestones and now have TWO embryos growing!! Thank you Lord!

Of the 15 eggs retrieved, 9 were mature. They froze 6 eggs.

They ICSI'd 3 eggs, and 2 of those eggs fertilized normally!! This is a little better than last time because we had only one fertilize normally (2pn) and one "maybe" (1pn) in IVF #1. So we are so thankful for our two normally fertilized embryos and pray they continue to grow!

Thank you all for your prayers - keep them coming! :) We think we will be doing a 3-day transfer on Tuesday.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Egg retrieval today: Holy Moly!

You are not going to believe this... we got fifteen eggs. That's right - fifteen. One-five. 15. I'm in shock and I have no idea where they all came from. I know they won't all be mature, but it is still a lot. I took LESS medicine this time than last.

It almost seemed like a crazy waste for somebody only fertilizing 3 eggs. But I am thanking God for these eggs!!

Ironically, after many conversations about egg freezing, we had once again decided to NOT freeze. But when I woke up from the anaesthesia, found out about all these eggs, and looked at DH I said, "We can't let all those eggs go to waste." Maybe he just felt sorry for me in my drugged up, pitiful state, but he agreed. So we're fertilizing 3 and freezing the rest that are mature.

The RE said some things that made us feel like he thought this batch of eggs was better. Maybe we were just reading too much into these relatively basic comments, but DH thought the same thing. He even thought it would be more likely that we could do a 5 day transfer. If only 1-2 fertilize we would do a 3 day again, but if all 3 fertilize we might do a 5 day transfer.

I am feeling much more sore this time, so I just took some Tylenol and am sitting here with a heating pad - neither of which were necessary last time. Probably because there were more eggs?

I'm feeling hopeful, nervous, and excited about our fert report tomorrow. Thank you for all your prayers and support! DH & I are praying like crazy!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Monitoring #4: Triggering tonight!

We made it!! I'm triggering tonight at 9:00pm, and the egg retrieval will be at 8:00am on Saturday morning. Yay!

My RE is coming in on Saturday just to do my ER. I think they normally try to do this for their patients as long as they are not on vacation, but I still thought this was so sweet! As he was leaving the office today he was really kind to me and hopeful about our cycle. He said, "On Saturday we'll see how many eggs we'll get. We'll fertilize 3 like last time and hope to get 1-2 good embryos to transfer. We'll talk about freezing the rest of the eggs." He said this in such a way that I just felt so endeared to him, and that he does have our best interests in mind - I was touched.

I also got excited about the possibility of egg freezing again....I know, I am so wishy-washy! I feel really good about our decision to NOT freeze eggs at the start of the cycle, because we didn't spend any money to attempt to get 'extra' eggs. But now that I have a nice little bunch growing - I don't want any to go to waste! And I feel good about this bunch of eggs. :)

It wouldn't cost us anything extra for 1 year. DH & I had a long talk about it tonight and we are leaning towards freezing the eggs. It just seems like it will be no cost to us now to keep one possibility open, and we can decide whether or not we will use it later. DH is more hesitant than I am, mostly because he feels like doing 3 IVF cycles was where we drew the line. The plan is that if we are not pregnant after 3 cycles, we would stop treatments. But if we freeze eggs, he is nervous it could extend our trying...and we would spend more money....and that there will always be 'something' we can try. I understand his thinking, and I do know that if we finish 3 IVF cycles with no baby at the end, I would want to use our frozen eggs. So he's right. :) BUT my real hope is that I will be pregnant at the end of this month, and that those eggs will help us conceive baby #2!! Ha - how optimistic is that! We're going to continue praying about it until Saturday, and also talk to DH's parents to get their perspective on it.

Sorry that got so long...bottom line is I'm continuing to feel really good and thanking God for bringing us this far! ER, here we come!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Monitoring #3 - Quick update :)

I am so very thankful for how smoothly and easily this cycle has gone so far - it feels very different than IVF #1. I am not a basket case. I am happy. I am excited. I am hopeful.

Today I had the following follicles: 20mm, 19mm, 18mm (x2), 17mm, 16mm, 13mm, and 11mm. It looks to me like 6 should be mature! My lining was triple layered and 11mm...it only got to 9mm last time (which is still perfectly fine), but it's exciting that it's more this time!

Everyone seems pleased. I should be triggering tomorrow night, but will find out for sure at my appointment tomorrow. Almost there!

Thank you so much for all of your well wishes and prayers. I can't believe I started this cycle only a week ago....and here I am. Knowing all of you were behind me helped me to move forward at a point when it felt difficult to try again. But I am so thankful I am in the midst of round two.

xxoo

Monday, May 3, 2010

Monitoring #2 - After 5 nights of stims...

...I have a really nice group of follicles growing! I was so relieved when I looked over at the screen and saw a bunch of circles.

I *think* I had: 1 @ 16mm, 2 @14mm, 3 @13mm, 2 @ 11mm, and 1 @ 10mm. Wow. And notice how they are all relatively close in size??? That the biggest one is 2mm bigger than the next size down? Those follicles just seem like they are growing at a nice, steady pace this round and that makes me happy. I hope THE egg is in that bunch...

My RE seemed pleased with everything. He said he would estimate the trigger to be Thursday and ER on Saturday.

I'm also excited that I'm 2 for 2 on good monitoring appointments. Thank you, Lord! The RE is having me come in for fewer appointments than last cycle (I'm guessing since he knows my response a little now), and I think that is easier on my emotions, too. Next appointment is Wednesday!

It's cute, DH is praying constantly for our "bio baby." I think he's always prayed God would give us "a baby," but he added the "bio" part just to clarify that we're asking for a biological child and not an adopted one (at this time, at least). Not that God is confused or anything....but it's cute. :)