Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ladies & Gents... we have a plan... sorta.

I finally heard from the nurse- man that was a long week and a half.  She said that our doctor, the other doctor's in the practice and the embryologists came up with a plan... 

We first both have to get our blood drawn for what's called a Karyotypes test which is to test our chromosomes to make sure they are "balanced" and "normal."  What ever that means.  Then hubs has to get a test on his sperm called SCSA (I don't remember what the acronym stands for) that rules out anything with the sperm that would react in the embryos and cause them to die.  If everything is normal then we would start a new medication protocol called Down Regulation.

The nurse quickly explained what that meant- CD21 (cycle day) I'd get a blood test to make sure that I had ovulated.  If I ovulated I would start a medication called Lupron (injections).  I should then get my period within 7 days then would start Follistem injections on CD2.  I also am going to be taking a medication called Menapur and another one called Ganerellix (I think).  They are also both injections...

She said that once the blood/semen tests come back, depending on the results, I will go in and we would talk more in depth about the medication protocol.  It could take up to 3 weeks for the results to come back.  Oh, did I mention I got my period yesterday (a week early)?  So CD21 would be March 19th but we are at the mercy of when the test results come back in.  I really hope we're able to get the results in faster since I really (really) do not have to wait for yet another cycle.  I feel like my life has been in 2 week bursts (sometimes longer) for the past 2+ years.  Get my period.  Wait to ovulate.  Praying I don't get my period.  Wait to ovulate... vicious cycle repeats again and again.

I think what's really playing on my mind is that my 35th birthday is at the end of March.  35.  I know that I've said it on here before but that number, in my head, has such a huge weight.  I know that so many women are having babies, first babies, at that age and older.  For me, however, I never in a zillion years pictured myself at 35 without a baby in my arms (or in my womb).  I never thought when we started this journey to parenthood that it would have taken us down this long and twisty road.  I am praying that this is our miracle cycle because after this... insurance runs out and we are on our own...which is not something we can afford. 

Please God. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Coke or Pepsi? Red Sox or Yanks? Fertile or Infertile?

I have a good friend at work who is now 30 weeks pregnant.  We were at my old job together and we happened to start at my new company within a week of each other about a year ago.  She's a little younger than I am but we were at each other's weddings in the same summer almost 3 years ago so I broached the topic of "trying to conceive" with her and I got a, "yeah that's not going so well."

We were friends before but the subject of infertility brought us closer.  It's a hard subject to bring up unless you know the person; it's not something you work into a conversation like you would, say, a favorite sports team or beverage.  We had already gone through all of the IF testing that her and her husband started to go through so we compared a lot of notes.

- your basic pap smear
blood work at specific times through out your cycle to check your hormone levels (FSH, Estadiol, progesterone, inhibin B, Prolactin, Free T3, Testosterone, DHEAS, Androstenedione)
- internal ultrasounds at differnet times during your cycle to measure the thickness of your cervical lining, monitor follicle (where the egg grows) development, confirmation that ovulation has occurred (showing the once full follicle is now deflated).
- HCG  (Hysterosalpingogram) where they inject dye into your uterus and tubes (which was extremely painful for me because that's when they found that one of my tubes was blocked - later surgery (Hysteroscopy) revealed that it had never developed)
- semen analysis for the hubs
- post coital exam, just when you thought sex with your partner couldn't get more weirder than on demand love making when your cycle demands it... now you have to have sex and then go to the doctor an hour later so that they can check out how his swimmers are doing wading through your cervical mucus.
- a genetic test where you had to fill up a test tube with spit and send it off next day air to some research lab in who knows where to find out if you have any sort of predisposition for genetic diseases in your genes.  It was probably one of the more disgusting things I've done - filling up a test tube with spit is a lot harder than one would think.
- Laparascopy (which I recently had and my friend did not need) when they go in with a fiber optic camera and a laser and remove any abnormalities - in my case my uterus was shaped like a heart and he removed the septum to make it the normal triangle.  The shape of the uterus impacts the lining thickness which impacts embryos ability to implant into the uterine wall.  Certainly seemed to work because my lining before was never better than a 5 - 6.5 and this last cycle (the one after the lap) it was an amazing 8.5!  8 is optimal so I was very happy... unfortunately the IVF cycle was canceled before any embryos could test it out :(

We went to different OBGYN's but they both referred us to the same Fertility Medical Center last spring.  We had different doctors there but we were on kind of the same path.  We both we're given the same basic plan (probably because we have the same insurance).  3 IUI's then if that doesn't work then 2 IVF's.  The IUI #1 on the clomid for me showed to thin my already thin lining (one of the side effects of the medication).  They tried me on a different medication for the second cycle, which was when my friend started her 1st IUI cycle.  That one for me was canceled because the one lead follicle was on the non tube side.  So we both had a bust on IUI #1 and started our IUI #2 cycles 4 days apart.  She was still on the clomid because that didn't affect her lining and I was put on injectable medication.  IUI#2 was a negative for me.  Pregnancy achieved for my friend.

Let me say, once again, that I am very happy for all of my friends who are pregnant or who have had babies while we have been on this journey... that would be 12 friends, 2 of whom are pregnant for the 2nd time with their 2nd babies.  If it's one thing that this has taught me it's that every baby is a precious gift from God.  Some people are blessed with these miracles a little easier than others and some people have to go to great lengths to achieve these blessings.  God's plan isn't for us to know or judge.  Believe me I have had many a conversation with God over the past 2+ years.

I'm going to be honest, watching my friend go through this pregnancy has been a little difficult.  Never ever ever have I let her know that.  Absolutly not.  I keep all my feelings and emotions in check when I'm around her because I would never want someone to feel bad that they got that golden ticket and I have yet to win my chocolate bar (a little Charlie and the Chocolate Factory humor).  I know that she has kept things from me because she's a good friend and knowing her she doesn't want it to seem like she's flaunting her pregnancy.  But I ask about how her appointments are, maternity clothes shopping, about the nursry, the baby shower... selfishly I'm fascinated by it all and also want to be a supportive friend.  Now that she's 30 weeks she's going to start going to the doctor every two weeks.  I realized she's due in another 2 and half months.  Her baby shower is next month...

A small part of me thinks, if only it worked for me too I would be on this same path.  But this isn't the path I was meant to travel on just yet.  We all have a different journey that we're meant to take and for what ever reason it is taking me a lot longer to get to the goal of becoming pregnant.  My best friend told me the other day that she has no doubt in her mind that I'm going to become pregnant - she can see us at my babyshower and I'm in a pretty sundress... God I hope she's right because sometimes I honestly have my doubts.

"Hey, I had a really weird dream..."

I was having an awesome dream... kind of Hunger Games-esq with the fashionable outfits, the jungle and the nifty bow and arrow skills... then I heard a strange sound... kind of like one of those horn blows you hear in the movies when people on horse back are going hunting...

Wait a minute... dream over.  That's the hubster's text message indicator.  Yes that seriously is his message indicator.  Ughhh it must be early because it's still mostly dark outside and son-of-a-bitch it's SATURDAY!  Now I'm aggravated.

"Was that your text message?"  
"Who the heck is texting you at this hour??"
"I don't know, I'm sleeping."

Well now I am not.  Awesome-sauce.  Anyone that knows me knows that I am a horrible sleeper and if I'm startled awake that's usually it (I'm hoping that when we kids they take after their dad in the sleeping department and I'll be so tired that I'll fall back to sleep like a normal person with the multiple middle of the night feedings).

<insert incredibly annoying horn sound again>


So yeah, apparently I'm not that pretty when I'm suddenly woken up really early for no apparent reason on my day to sleep in.

"Oh, it's Rob, he wants to go fishing but... I have too much work to do today.  That sucks.  Hey, I had a really weird dream...I had a dream that we had a baby boy"

Squeeee!!!  Now I'm happy and all warm n' fuzzy inside because this is the first "we had a baby" dream that he's told me about.

" they handed him to me and they said he was perfect and when I looked at his face his eye was all bleeding and puss was everywhere..."

Okkkkk the warm fuzzy feeling just turned into a lead brick.

"...but they said that was ok and totally normal and it would go away.  So we take him home and it doesn't go away."

I don't like where this dream is heading...

"...we take him to the ER and they take him from us and won't let us follow the baby into the back.  Then I was going to the bathroom and I overheard two doctors talking about him and that it was a 50/50 shot that he could have cancer or that he'll lose his eye but they didn't see me.  So when they came out to the waiting room they just handed us our baby and said he was perfect.  They didn't say anything about him having cancer or losing an eye but that he needed glasses.  I didn't tell you what the doctor's said because I didn't want you to get upset.  When we looked at the baby he had on these big glasses.  Isn't that funny?  A tiny little baby with big glasses on?"

I'm having a hard time finding the humor.  I can't get past "bleeding" "puss" "cancer" "lose an eye."  But I've had some doozy of weird dreams in my day and ok, he isn't like psychic and making a prediction of what will happen with our future baby.  Maybe it's his own anxiety about this infertility/IVF roller coaster coming through and hijacking what started out as a nice "we had a baby boy" dream.

So I look at him and say, "wanna hear about the weird dream I had too?"

<and right now he's upstairs still sleeping and I'm downstairs on the couch with my laptop and the dog.  Go figure.>

Friday, February 22, 2013

Ovaries before Brovaries

Life throws you curve balls, there's no doubt about that.  When you get smacked in the face with one of those suckers that's when you realize who your true friends are.  This whole nonsense with infertility is no different.  I have a couple friends who I thought I would be friends with until we were old biddies that have suddenly fallen off the face of the earth.  It's not because they are bad people or no longer care - it's because it gets to a point where they don't know what to say.  If you haven't gone through this, if you haven't ever wanted a baby so badly it makes your heart hurt - especially if you never wanted kids in the first place - you don't know how to react to someone going through infertility.  It's ok, I don't fault them.  It's just a shame they they made the decision to just walk away instead of sticking around.

This experience has made me closer to a couple of my husband's friend's wives who also have gone through (and conquered) infertility.  I have two women who check in on me often and who I know care deeply about us and who are praying for us.

There's one person though who I know no matter kind of suckiness the universe throws at me will always be there.  We have been friends since we were 3 and my brother tried to run her over with his BMX bike.  Haha.

When my father passed away before Christmas 11 years ago she was the first person I called and I swear she was at my mother's house before I even hung up the phone.  I was her bridesmaid and gave the speech at her wedding.  She would have been my Matron of Honor but had the nerve to have her baby 2 days before my wedding (haha just kidding of course).  We have cried on each other's shoulders more times then I can count.  We post silly pics to each other's Facebook pages just because we know the other will get our sick and twisted humor.  Recently she posted a quote from the TV Show Parks & Rec (she's a big Amy Poehler fan):

You know my code:
Hos Before Bros.
Uteruses Before Duderuses.
Ovaries Before Brovaries.  

When I saw that I just about fell off my chair, it's so hilarious and so perfect!  We no longer live in the same town and it's sometimes months between visits but as soon as we get together it's just like we've never been apart - we make each other laugh until our sides hurt and through the magic of the interwebs and texting we're always in some sort of contact.

I have kept her in the loop of this whole IVF fiasco and told her of the loss of all of our embryos.  I got an email from her this morning that simply said: 

"if you find out it's your eggs I would be willing to donate mine you if you want them."

I cannot even put into words the magnitude of that statement.  Just like that - if you want them, you can have them.  Bam.  I know that if, God forbid, the tables were turned I would do it for her in a heart beat but just to hear her say it... touches my heart more than I can even say.  She's such an amazing person, the sister of my heart, the mom I hope to be some day... she's got the coolest little girl and I hope that we can eventually (soon) have play dates with not just us but with our kids.

I love you forever Mrs "went-on-a-year-long-strike-when-we-were-13-wearing-nothing-but-leggings-until-her-parents-bought-her-Guess-Jeans."  Looking forward to 60 more years of friendship and terrorizing our loved ones when we're old and grey just cause we can :)

[and Lord help you if Little Miss is as stubborn as you were- lol xoxo]

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Twins. Hmm.

With the upcoming IVF#2 being the last one our insurance will cover, the discussion of twins has come up.. again.  When we did the 3 IUI's it was something we thought about but wasn't something we could control.  Twins are actually on both sides of our families, my maternal grandmother had twin sisters and hubs paternal grandfather had twin brothers so the chances of us having twins was always on the table.  But now that science has completely taken over my ovaries and uterus we actually can (kind of) control this.

When we were doing IVF#1 we said that we would like to have only one at a time but if twins happened we would be ok with it.  You can't really control if one of the embryos splits when implanted but you can control how many embryos get transferred.  I know someone who had IVF and had 2 embryos transferred... one split and she had triplets (she was at a different clinic).  That, right there, scares the heck out of me.  There is what they call "selective reduction" where they would go in (somehow) and take out one or two (depending on how many are in there).  Once we learned, however, that this isn't performed until the end of the 1st trimester we said no.  Once there is a heartbeat they are babies to us.

What also scares the heck out of me is having two tiny infants at the same time but we'll get back to that in a moment.

Before we started this IVF journey our hospital had us take a mandatory IVF seminar, which I'm so glad they did.  There was a lot about all this I didn't really get or understand and although I still do not know (or understand) all of it, I have a better grasp on the basics.  During the seminar they talked about multiples.  Our practice tries not to have multiples and they outlined reasons that I never knew.  With twins and triplets the risks to mother and babies are very high.  The woman I mentioned above had a very difficult pregnancy where she was hospitalized many times.  Two of her 3 babies were born with cleft pallets and one has other health issues and has had to have a couple surgeries already in his short little life (heart breaking).  I also know a couple women who have had twins (two with IVF and two with IUI) and although their pregnancies were a little tougher because there were two in there the babies seem to be ok (knock on wood). 

I follow two blogs where BOTH WOMEN lost their twins at 17 weeks (natural pregnancy) and 19.5 weeks (IVF).  I cannot imagine anything more heartbreaking than trying for so long to achieve a pregnancy; seeing that beautiful heartbeat and then watching your miracle(s) grow, making plans for their futures... to then lose them... how do you even recover from that?  Of course I know that women pregnant with just one child have miscarriages all the time (my sister lost 2 angels) but I think because the two women that I was following (and in my head thought we were friends in real life) lost their twin angels... makes me more apprehensive.

So with all that has already been said lets get back to what I mentioned before- having two tiny little humans at the same time.  I haven't done a ton of reading on it but I have seen that it is possible to have a vaginal birth with twins as long as the one on the bottom is in the right position.  I always thought I would give it the ol' college try to push them out the way women have been doing it since the beginning of time.  I'm not opposed to having a c-section though, if that's what my doctor (you know, the one with the medial degree) says I need to do for the health of our baby(s) then that's that.  Caring for two infants while recovering from abdominal surgery though... I cannot imagine is an easy task. 

Then once they're out there are two.  Then we get to take them home.  Alone.  Without a whole hospital staff to help.

I have no doubt that my mother will be here with us - she has already proclaimed that she will be in the delivery room, which truth be told, I'm pretty sure I'm going to want my mommy in there along with the hubster.  I am also sure that she will be there when we get home along with my mother in law who lives very close by (my mom is an hour away - hate it).  So I know we will have help and I know there are a lot of couples all over the world who have twins and figure it out.  I don't know... I just feel like it'll be harder to bond with two at a time but that might just be me being whiney.  Then they, as I've heard, aren't always hungry at the same time and need to be changed at the same time and sleep at the same time... also there's daycare to consider (eek!).

They will be our little miracles, God's gifts finally in our arms.

Something to continue to think about.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The New Math

It's Tuesday.  The day after we found out none of our embryos survived. 

I should be getting ready to go to work but I was awake all night.  I can't turn my brain off but at least I've stopped crying (for now).  I had planned to have this day off because if we had the egg transfer I would have been on bed rest.  I had emailed my boss yesterday briefly letting her know what had happened (she's in the loop because of all the appointments I've had) and that I would be at work on Tuesday.  Last night while I was silently crying, tossing and turning and trying to stop the clock so I could get at least [8 hours...5 hours...3 hours] of sleep I realized that I now had 5 extra days off since I now won't be having a baby in 2013.

My eyes snapped open.  Talk about cold water on my face.  That had me reviewing the math that I had been doing in my head since this cycle started...

If this had worked... day one would have been Feb 4th- the first day of my last period... that means we could have told people at 12 weeks in May, possibly Mother's Day (aww how perfect!) then we could have found out the gender at 5 months in July - maybe my siblings would still have been here visiting?... the baby would be born beginning of December (if full term) and that means he (because in my mind our baby is always a he) would be here for Christmas and would be almost exactly 2 years younger than my friend's son, you know my friend who we planned our weddings together and went off the pill at the same time and had hoped to have our pregnancies together but she got pregnant the first month...

Oh.  I didn't really think about all that. 
The new math:

I'm going to be 35 in a month.  There is no longer a strong possibility I will be pregnant by my 35th birthday.  Depending on what the doctor says next week, if there is some sort of magical medication protocol that will solve all our embryo dying issues, we would potentially start IVF#2 not with my next cycle (beginning of March) but the one after that which would be April. 

April to May, May to June, June to July... July that would be 3 months when we could tell people.  Ok.  2 months later... September, that would be 5 months when we would find out the gender... 5 months later (since you're really pregnant for 10 mos) would be the due date... February.

It's February now.  That would mean one more whole year.

I have no words. 

Yeah, I'm definitely taking today off.  I need a day to wrap my brain around all this and pull myself together to start the next steps... what ever those steps may be...

**to clarify the 5 extra days... when you go out on maternity leave at my company (and maybe at all companies, not sure) you have to use 5 of your vacation days for the first week of FML (Family Medical Leave). 

Monday, February 18, 2013

my worst nightmare.

I woke up to the phone at 9:38 on Monday morning (President's Day so no work but the clinic is open).  It wasn't the nurse as it should have been.  It was our 2 year old niece who just wanted to tell me she loved me (I'm currently her favorite aunt which is the best thing ever).  Her little voice on the phone saying, "I lub you Auntie J" was a beautiful way to wake up.  I told my sister in law I would let her know when we heard from the nurse and hung up.

Hmm.  9:45 and still no call.  They said they'd call by 9:30... I hardly slept on Saturday night or last night because I was so excited.  The least they could do is to call on time...

9:50.  Phone rings.  It's the doctor.

"I'm afraid I have some bad news..."

I wasn't prepared for this.  I wasn't even aware that this was a possibility.  I can't breath.  I have to still be asleep, this has to be a nightmare...this cannot be happening.

None of our embryos survived.  We had 10 and now we have none.  They stopped developing on Sunday morning and by Sunday evening they started to die.

They started to die.  Our 10 chances at a shot at happiness gone.  This has to be a nightmare, this can't really be happening... 

I need to listen, I need to pay attention to what he is saying...

" may be your eggs, we do not know why this has happened.  This may be the reason why you have not been able to get pregnant before..."

"...the other specialists and I are going to meet next week to discuss your case.  Maybe a change in medication protocol.  How many more tries does your insurance cover?"


Just one more chance.  Just one more chance to make my biggest wish come true.  Just once more chance to be able to feel something that is part of me and part of my husband growing inside me.  Just one more chance to be the thing that I have always wanted to be... pregnant with a healthy baby.

We laid in bed holding each other while I sobbed for a couple hours.  I felt like my heart was breaking.  My husband finally got up saying he was going to make me breakfast but I couldn't move.  I didn't know how to get out of bed.  I didn't know what to do next.  Everything "next" prior to that phone call had to do with me possibly having a baby growing in my womb within the next few days.  I didn't know what to do now that that isn't happening.  I don't know what to do now that that isn't happening.

I laid there with the covers over my head peeking through the little gap where light (and air) gets in.  I keep saying over and over... this can't be happening, this can't be real, this has to be a nightmare... I try and make myself think of all the positive things in my life... my amazing husband, our home, our pets, our jobs, our health, our family, our friends... trying to put this into perspective.  I'm not doing a very good job.

"Please get out of bed honey, please?"

I have to remember that this isn't just about me.  He is hurting too.  These were his potential chances too...

I put my feet on the floor.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

we might have a football team...

Had the egg retrieval yesterday.  Not that bad.  I will be honest, it was a little scary but considering all of the surgeries I've had in my lifetime and while on this journey... and considering what the outcome of this is (a baby!) it wasn't that bad.  It only took like 20 minutes and with the propophol it felt like I took a really great nap.  Haha!  The 20 follicles had 18 eggs, so it was a very good outcome.  Whoomp!!

The nurse just called and out of the 18 eggs obtained, 17 were mature and 10 fertilized.

Whoa... 10.  Embryos.  Ten Embryos.

That doesn't automatically mean 10 babies but it certainly means a good number of possibilities!  Now we wait for Monday morning - at which point the nurse will call again by 9:30 to let us know if we go in that day (3rd day after ER) or Wednesday (5th day after ER) for the transfer.

Did I mention how awesome science is?  The doctors did something called ICIS - I don't remember what it stands for (you can Google if you're so inclined) but what it basically means is that they took my husbands sperm and injected it into my egg.  Usually they just put the egg and the sperm into a petri-dish and let them figure it out but because our insurance only covers 2 IVF cycles our doctor wants to give us the best possible shot.  That whole thing just blows my mind, that they can actually force the sperm to snack on the egg, haha. 

We are elated with this news.  I cannot help but get excited and I cannot help but think that in a few days I will be, in a sense, pregnant since they are going to be transferring a fertilized egg into my uterus.  Hopefully with my lining being as great as it is the little embryo (or embryos) will burrow in there for a nice long 9 mos stay.

Yes, I said embryos.  The thing is is that if they decide on a 3 day post ER transfer then they put in 2 embryos.  If it's a 5 day post ER then they put in one.  If by Monday morning the embryos are slowing down in their development they will transfer 2 inside that day (day 3) because they do better in the natural environment.  Statistically the chances of pregnancy are better when 2 are put in on day 3 and more times than not only one embryo attaches (I don't know, the buddy system perhaps??  Once again, Google if you must).  Day 5 transfers are a blastocycst at that point and if one is transferred then there is a good chance that with my super awesome lining it will burrow in there.  <squeeeee!!!>

Monday seems very far away (yes I'm being dramatic, it is Saturday) but I am just so excited!!  Tonight my husband has to start to give me the shots of progesterone in oil in my upper butt area.  He isn't looking forward to having to give me a shot (I'd be worried if he was) but as I have been telling myself since the first injection I had to give myself months ago... it's all for the best possible outcome, our dream of a family :)

I cannot believe that we are so close... I cannot believe that this is going to actually happen!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

IVF... ready or not, here we come...

I never thought I would be so happy to get my period.  2/4/2013... we finally started our IVF cycle!  I am on 300iu (international units) of Follistim which is 2x as much as I was on at my highest dosage when we did the IUI's.  The doctor is really happy with my progress and I am happy that I have kept my hormones in check, at least at the work place, and no one has been hurt or maimed, lol.  I had surgery 1/3/2013 to help correct the shape of my uterus (it was heart shaped versus the normal triangle).  The shape impacts the lining (what the fertilized egg will attach to).  In the past the best mine has been was only a 6.5.  This cycle my lining is 8.5!!!  Wowza!  8 is optimal so it looks like this is all going our way!

I had started off with one shot of the meds in the stomach in the evenings and now I'm onto 2 shots (two different meds).  The one in the a.m is to trick my body into waiting to ovulate to give my follicles time to grow and the one in the p.m is to help my follicles multiply and get nice and giant.  How giant you ask?  Well at my last scan (I go every day for blood work and ultrasound) I had 20 (twenty) large follicles.  Holy. Crap.  Considering in a normal unmedicated cycle you produce one follicle that's pretty crazy.  I also look like I'm 4 mos pregnant.  I did say 20 giant follicles.  So my stomach is huge and very firm (instead of the jelly that my gut usually is, haha).  Thankfully my sister in law lent me 3 huge tupperware bins of maternity clothes.  I've had to take out some pants to wear, especially to work.

Tonight, Wednesday, I do the trigger shot (HCG).  This is what primes my body to ovulate.  Then Friday morning I go in for the egg retrieval (ER).  I'm nervous because it's a surgery (I'm knocked out with propophol) but excited at the same time.  They go through my uterus to my ovaries and take the egg out of each follicle.  Hopefully those 20 follicles have some nice size eggs in them.  It's very hard to not be so optimistic!