Tuesday, December 20, 2011
I have all the info for the FET (frozen embryo transfer), we ordered the meds and I started taking the required birth control pills. I'm waiting to hear back from the financial coordinator re: cost for this cycle because we didn't get to the transfer on the last cycle. This should be a *clearance* IVF cycle since the money we didn't use for the fresh cycle will carry over and the meds cost a minuscule $50. $50! What a bargain!!
So why the sad face? I don't know if I'm overly tired (worked 53 hrs last week of both day and night shifts), starting the pills are making me edgy, I'm apprehensive to hop on the infertility treatment wagon once again or any combination of the above.
I thought we would not begin this process until mid Jan, but the injections start on Dec 27th. Surprise! The transfer is tentatively scheduled for Jan 18-a day I'm scheduled to work 7pm-7am. Wonderful! My first ultrasound appointment is on Jan 5 and I'm working a stretch of 3 nights during that time AND the earliest appointment I can get is 10 am. I have to work until 7am, stay up to head to the MD at 10am, come home and try to sleep a maximum of 4.5 hrs before heading in for another 12 hour night. Stupendous! This cycle includes Progesterone injections (I've had these before and they freaking hurt!) Terrific! Collin has tentative plans to be on a business trip when I'm supposed to be getting some of these injections which means I may get to give them to myself. Fantastic!
Every other time we've started a new treatment cycle I've met the cycle with unbeaten optimism and soaring hope. Not this time. I'm over it. I'm more then fatigued by this entire process both emotionally and physically.
Infertility sucks. I loath it. I want to kick it in the face.
I am tired of fighting today.
I'm going to give myself the day to be a wreck and feel sorry for myself and my situation.
Tomorrow I can pick up the pieces and move forward, but not today...
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
It's hard to believe the holidays will soon be upon us. Although I've been going through the motions, this time of year seems to be a bit difficult. I suppose it is for anyone going through infertility...
The company my husband works for hosts an angel tree for Christmas through the Salvation Army. It has tags for a bunch of children in the area who are in need (many foster kids). The children write their clothing sizes, shoe size and one big wish for Christmas. The idea is to buy the child one complete outfit (shirt, pants, shoes, socks, underwear, coat etc.) and at least one toy (hopefully you can get them the one big item they wished for).
Last year was our first time taking part in the angel tree. We were both shocked to see how many of Collin's co-workers took part making children's Christmas dreams come true. There were a lot of big items people generously purchased-lots of bikes! We felt the need to spread some Christmas cheer again this year, so we set aside a random night during the week and headed to Target to spoil our angel kid named Faith. (I thought the name was a bit ironic given our circumstances.) Anyway, Faith is an 11 year old girl who's Christmas wish was makeup and hair accessories. To think of all things a kid could wish for, (last year our kid wanted a digital camera) Faith merely wanted makeup and hair accessories. Out of anything she could have asked for, she asked for something simple most 11 year old girls already have and probably take for granted. We were both moved and felt the need to spoil this girl for Christmas! We wandered through Target picking out items for our angel, feeling blessed to be able to help someone in need. I have no idea where she is or when she will get her gifts, but I sincerely hope she loves them! I hope we have a positive impact on this little girl and I hope making her Christmas wish come true makes her have an amazing Christmas. Below is a pic of what we bought. Merry Christmas Faith!!!
Aside from this, we've been discussing our next infertility battle: the frozen transfer. We had intended to do the transfer in Jan, but now that the date is approaching, we've both had cold feet. It is incredibly nice to live your life and not worry about your next appointment, injection or pill to swallow. I enjoy not having to shoot myself up with all these medications that make me feel slightly insane (Collin may claim they make me seem certifiably insane). No matter how you cut it, the process takes over your life and you don't feel like yourself.
Here's my (crazy) thought process: I want to enjoy being my 'normal' hormone free self a little longer (I can't fully express how AMAZING it truly is). I've been picking up a bunch of hours at work (bc I don't have to center my work schedule around infertility appts) and the extra money is so nice! We've been training for a 5k (it's going well and we're in week 3 in case you were wondering) and I'd like to continue to run and get in shape. All of these things make me want to delay the transfer.
On the other hand, I'm so freaking tired of waiting to get pregnant, I don't want to wait any longer! I have some friends who want to come visit in Feb and I'd much rather spend *much needed* girl time with them and not have to run off to throw my legs in stirrups for an appointment. I've already left myself a light work schedule in Jan in anticipation of upcoming appointments. My last IVF experience was so horrific, I'm hesitant to jump into any more treatment, but I know a frozen cycle is much easier then a fresh cycle.
The list goes on and on. We have come to the conclusion that there is never a good time to do IVF. Life is busy, things get in the way and that's just the way it is.
I called the clinic today to get a schedule for a transfer in January. I need to get the next round of drugs and figure out what a frozen transfer entails. I received a call from a nurse this afternoon and she let me know the MD would have a complete calendar for me tomorrow.
I'm working tomorrow, so of course I won't be able to take the phone call, but I'll be checking my phone like a mad woman every time I have a break. Here's to 2012!
Monday, November 28, 2011
That being said, I have given in and began reading the Twilight series. I hate to admit this out loud. Through a library rental program, I rented the first book on my Kindle. I figured I'd just give it a try since it was free. If I hated it, I wouldn't read it and wouldn't feel bad about dropping $10 on it. Well, I am hopelessly and bashfully HOOKED! I'm not one for vampires or any science fiction for that matter, but the love story is what I can't resist. I'm such a romantic at heart....I live for romance and love. I've raced through the first two books in a week and watched the first two movies as well. The books are far superior to the movies. I just bought the 3rd book today and I'm hoping for a slow night at work so I can indulge in my new guilty pleasure. I am still in shock that I am reading these books...
Also, the husband and I have taken to getting in shape! We're doing a couch to 5K program with hopes of running a 5k in Jan. Week one is done! Week one consisted of walking 5 minutes then alternating between jogging 60 seconds and walking 90 seconds. We've both been huge couch potatoes recently, but it feels good to be up and moving again. It's helped to have a new goal to focus on.
Collin's surprise birthday weekend was last weekend. I'll write about it later; I'm running short on time at the moment.
That's the update on me. Twilight and getting in shape. Wow...the excitement. I'm surprised by the Twilight thing still....I have become one of them. Help!
Saturday, November 12, 2011
In rare cases, women can have more serious symptoms, including:
Significant weight gain (more than 10 pounds in 3 - 5 days)
Severe pain or swelling in the abdomen
Shortness of breath
To pick up where Collin left off, we went back to Chattanooga (we made a total of 5 trips in 8 days) on Monday and had another paracentecis done. The MD let C come back into the OR to watch this one-I'm very thankful I was asleep. They drained off another 2.5 Liters of fluid. I recovered and we went home. We started Lovenox injections (my labs showed I had an increased risk of a blood clot) and Cabergoline (to get rid of the OHSS) along with anti-nausea and pain meds. I woke up throughout the night Monday night to urinate 6 times. I lost 5 pounds overnight! I was actually able to get out of bed (other then to pee or puke) for the first time in 6 days.
I continued the urinating ritual throughout the day and night Tuesday and Wednesday nights and continued to shed pounds daily. Collin's birthday was on Thursday and we managed to go out to eat that night. It was a big outing for me! Finally, today, 10 days post retrieval I am feeling normal. It has been a very long journey for us. We're finally feeling back to normal...
Words cannot express how thankful I am to have Collin in my life. He diligently drove me back and forth to Chattanooga, ran to the pharmacy (they constantly were adding meds), made numerous phone calls to the MD, RN and family, tended to my every need and never complained once. The man is amazing. I love him so much!
Also, shout out to the staff at Tennessee Reproductive Medicine! One of the RN's gave us her personal cell phone number the day of the transfer and told us to call her with any issues. Once we were experiencing issues, the MD also gave her cell phone number to us. They were in regular contact with Collin and provided excellent advice and guidance in our time of need. I couldn't be happier with the support they offered.
So now what? We had amazing embryos that developed beautifully (10 were of the highest grade possible), but since I was incredibly sick we made the decision to freeze the embryos. There wasn't really much of a decision to be made, it's what the MD highly advised and we didn't see any reason to go ahead with the transfer. Transferring the embryos would make the symptoms of OHSS stay for even longer. We have 14 beautiful embryos frozen and waiting for us. We got to see the embryologist most days (since we were in the clinic anyway) so she gave us updates face-to-face and she was always beaming over how well the embryos were doing.
We decided to wait for a few months before we pursue a transfer. I want to feel 100% when we do the transfer and we don't want to be stressed about the holidays so we're probably going to wait until January.
This means another holiday season without any exciting news. I'm disheartened by this, but I know it's for the best. We were pregnant in Oct '09 and I was thrilled about the news and spending time with family over the holidays (our family all lives far away-in WI and IA-so we don't get to see them but a few times a year). Since I miscarried in early December, all my blissful thoughts and dreams of the holiday season we were supposed to have was ripped away. Instead I spent the holidays with family who didn't know what to say to either one of us and both of us felt empty and alone. All I have wanted since this is to be pregnant and to experience what was stolen from us. We'll have yet another holiday season spent without the news I so desperately want to share.
Infertility is a cruel game. It seems like there are so many set backs and let downs. Very rarely is there anything positive. I feel like we are ALWAYS waiting for something....it's never my freaking time! As much as I want to be negative, for my sanity and the sanity of my favorite guy, I can't dwell on all the negative things we have been through or I honestly probably won't get out of bed ever again. I know it sucks and it's not fair, but I need to put on my big girl panties and suck it up. We have 14 amazing embryos on ice-we have pictures and they are beautiful!!
That pretty much sums it up. 10 days of hell. Finally over the hump and feeling normal. Life goes on.
2011 has been a shitty year. I'm over it. Bring on 2012!!!
Sunday, November 6, 2011
After only a few minutes (which seemed like hours to Amber), we were taken back to an ER room where they started an IV and gave her some nausea meds. They did an ultrasound and saw tons of fluid again, but the ovaries still had blood supply, so that was one worry resolved. Unfortunately, it was beyond the comfort zone of the hospital to perform the procedure as it needs to be done under these circumstances. Dr Scotchie called and said that it isn’t overly complicated to perform, but it is a bit rare clinically speaking. The ER doc called around town and was not able to find anyone in town who could perform the procedure...on a Sunday at least. By the time this was resolved, it was rather late in the afternoon, so we had two options: 1-Go to Chattanooga (either by me driving or via ambulance) and get admitted overnight and have the paracentesis first thing in the morning, or 2- get discharged and rest at home tonight and head to Chattanooga in the morning. We asked to be admitted here, but they said that because they knew they couldn’t resolve this tonight, that they would have a very difficult time finding a physician here would be willing to admit her. Understandable, I guess. We decided to get discharged and come home. Going to Chattanooga would involve me driving down and back tonight, and again in the morning, Amber having to get admitted, get another IV, blood work, etc., and then get discharged in the morning (all at a hospital that is out-of-network for us). That sounded like a lot to do and it may not be worth it. Let’s hope. They gave her a good dose of meds before we left and she is again in bed resting.
The ER doctor wished us luck and told us that he understands everything we are doing. He said he and his wife went through 5 rounds of IVF before they got their twins. He then said that he could not believe how nice Dr Scotchie was and that we were very lucky that she cared so much. He said he is not used to working with someone like her. She called this morning and gave me her personal cell number and we have been in contact all day. As I said yesterday, she and the rest of the crew in Chattanooga have been exceptional.
We will be heading to Chattanooga in the morning for the paracentesis and hopefully we are able to make it through the night without any surprises. As long as we can keep the nausea away, she thinks she can handle the fluid build-up. Here’s to hoping that is the case!
As for some good news, the embryologist again called with a glowing report this morning. Of the 21 embryos from yesterday, 19 are dividing and compacting like we want. The other two will probably drop off and not be viable. The grading scale changes a bit today, but long story shorter, 15 of the 19 are what would be considered a Grade 1. Again, that should give us plenty to get through this other situation and do a frozen cycle (and more, if necessary). At least we are getting some good news amongst the other terrible things going on these past few days.
Time to get some rest for the night and get ready for another big day tomorrow. Again, all of your thoughts and prayers are appreciated through this latest ordeal!
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Wednesday: Retrieval Day!
Amber came out of this feeling ok. The 90 minute ride home from Chattanooga went fine for the first hour, but she got very antsy to get out of the car the final half-our. She couldn’t get comfortable in the car, but we got her home and in bed and it started to look a bit better.
The egg retrieval procedure went well and everybody at the clinic was really excited! They were able to retrieve 27 eggs, which is a ton! 15 is considered to be about average, 20 would be great, so they were able to get way more than expected. Because of the high number of eggs she was likely having some ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) symptoms. That makes her really uncomfortable and feeling pretty terrible. We were hopeful that it would subside and that she would be feeling better in the next couple days
The embryologist at the clinic (I had no idea this was a career...) called us that night and again the next morning to give us an update on how the eggs looked and the fertilization process. Here is what we knew as of Thursday morning: They got 27 eggs total during the retrieval. Prior to retrieval, we chose to do an ICSI procedure on 50% of the eggs (Here is the Mayo Clinic definition on ICSI: Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). This procedure consists of a microscopic technique (micromanipulation) in which a single sperm is injected directly into an egg to achieve fertilization in conjunction with the standard IVF procedure). So, they took 14 of the eggs for ICSI and after preparing them, found that only one of those was not mature enough to be used, which is a great percentage, and that takes our number down to 26 eggs. They did the ICSI on Wednesday and then the "regular" method on the other 13, where they just put everything in a dish and hope they fertilize on their own. The embryologist called Thursday morning with the best news we have gotten in a very long time. Of the 13 ICSI eggs, 12 fertilized (92%; the clinic said typical is 80%), and of the 13 from the "regular" method, 10 fertilized (77%; typical is 60%). That left us with 22 embryos growing in Chattanooga on Thursday morning! She said everything looked great and if it stayed that way, we should be on track for a transfer of 2 embryos on Monday (and we would be freezing however many are left).
It isn't often we have gotten great news throughout this process, so this had our spirits pretty high. Rightfully so!
As I said, the embryologist called in the morning and gave us the news listed above. Amber was feeling better, but still pretty sore. All was as expected and we were feeling pretty good about how everything was going. A pretty uneventful day looking back on it.
Uneventful Thursday took us into a more eventful, and unwelcome Friday.
Before we get to that...We did get another call from the embryologist and she at least had more good news. Of the 22 that made it through the fertilization process, 21 divided. All of them were between 2 and 6 cells, which is where we want to be for that first day. Each one is then graded on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the best. 10 of the 21 were considered to be Grade 1 and the other 11 were either Grade 2 or 3. That is great news and we are still on schedule for a Monday transfer.
Back to the unwelcome part: Amber woke up feeling really pretty decent, all things considered, but after eating a full breakfast and taking the substantial amounts of medications she is on, things took a turn for the worse. She was still having some abdominal pain, but the worst part was the onset of nausea. She began vomiting a bit and got extremely uncomfortable. After I had several calls back and forth with the clinic in Chattanooga over the course of the morning they were concerned but we were all hopeful it would subside. She was able to rest a little more comfortably throughout the afternoon, so I kept an eye on her when I got home from work and thought we might be ok.
We had dinner last night and she was doing ok, relatively speaking. We went to bed and then it began....
Saturday (Today) - Rock Bottom? (lets hope...)
She started vomiting pretty regularly throughout the night. About every hour or two, she would wake me up to let me know that she had to go to the bathroom for another round. At about 6 AM, I noticed that her abdomen was getting very swollen and she was saying this was as bad as she has ever felt in her life, and I couldn’t disagree by looking at her gray coloring and obvious pain. We both new that the Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) had fully set in, and was progressing rapidly. It wasn’t going to go away on its own, and we had to get her help. Now.
One of the nurses from Chattanooga had given us her personal cell phone number at the retrieval in case anything came up over the weekend (the staff there has been nothing short of exceptional through this whole thing!) and I took advantage of it. I texted the nurse at about 7AM this morning and she called back immediately. She said that Dr. Scotchie would be in about 7:30 and she would call back after talking to her. She called back and said that she probably had to have the fluid removed from her abdomen, but they were worried about us driving 90 minutes with Amber being so nauseated. They gave us the option of picking a hospital in Knoxville and then she would call to make sure they could accommodate us. We talked it over and decided that we just needed to go to Chattanooga, as awful as the drive would be, rather than try our luck here. I was worried about getting in, sitting in a waiting room, getting results sent to Chattanooga, having some resident or other doctor do the procedure if they hadn’t done it before, etc. As they were calling back, about 30 min later, to find out where we wanted to go, we were walking out the door to go to Chattanooga. Easily the best decision we could have made!
The car ride was just as terrible as you would expect.....it involved Amber’s head being in a garbage can for half the ride. Talk about some interesting looks from people we passed. I don’t think there is anything further that needs to be said about that trip.
At 10AM this morning, we walked into the clinic and Dr Scotchie was walking past the front desk. She took one look at Amber and dropped everything and walked her right to the back and set up an IV. They had two transfers scheduled that they were just getting started, so we had to wait a bit, but they got her hydrated and on some pain and anti-nausea meds. She was resting as comfortably as could be expected within a few minutes of arrival. Again, a great decision not to go sit in an ER here in Knoxville, and huge thanks to the Chattanooga staff! By the time we got there her abdomen was even more swollen and there was a ton of fluid that had to be drained.
As soon as the two transfers were done, we were the only people in the clinic and they gave Amber their full attention and took here into the IVF clinic’s version of an Operating Room and started doing a paracentesis to remove the fluid.
While we were waiting, the embryologist came out and talked to us and gave our daily update. Of the 21 embryos we had from the previous day, ALL 21 are still dividing as well as they/we could hope. 11 are a Grade 1 (again, the best on a scale of 1-5), 6 are a Grade 2, and 4 are a Grade 3. No Grade 4 or 5. The embryologist is almost giddy when talking to us and has had nothing but great things to say, so we’ve enjoyed hearing from her these past few days. Again, this is really great news and lifted our spirits quite nicely amongst the obviously difficult day.
After the good news, it was back to the immediate worry. Amber was off to do the paracentesis and then I had 3 different people come out and tell me it was going well and that they were getting a great deal of fluid. When it was done, Dr. Scotchie came out and told me that they had drained 2.5 Liters of fluid! Yes, you read that right...LITERS! No wonder she was sick! After bringing her out of anesthesia, they brought her back out to recovery and she already had her color back, was feeling much better. They then said that if she was able to eat and keep down some crackers, we could go home today. If not, she would have to be admitted to a hospital in Chattanooga. Luckily, she was able to eat and they gave us the ok to go home.
We had already discussed with Dr. Scotchie that we did not feel comfortable with a Monday embryo transfer with how Amber was feeling and she said she was going to recommend the same thing. Because our embryos are doing well, we have decided that we will proceed with freezing all of the embryos on either Monday or Tuesday (depending on when the embryologist determines each individual one is ready to undergo the freezing process). She explained that typically about 80% of the embryos will survive the freezing/unfreezing process. We are very comfortable with this decision and this will give Amber the opportunity to get off all of the IVF-related meds, take some pain meds, and most importantly, get healthy. Once she gets back to feeling normal, or as normal as it gets these days, we will decide when to proceed with the embryo transfer. Dr. Scotchie said this would be a very sensible approach and that whenever we decide to do the transfer, it will seem like nothing compared to what we have been through the past six weeks! We are very thankful that our embryos are growing so well and that we even have this option to consider.
We loaded Amber back up in the car and she had plenty of pain meds to get her back home comfortably, which again was a welcome change. She has been up in bed since we got home and feeling much better (again, this is all relative). We can only hope this continues. There is a chance that we will have to go back one more time either Monday or Tuesday to do another paracentesis if there is further fluid build up. Hopefully we do not have to do this, but we will be proactive in making sure today’s events are not repeated.
Well, there you have it, folks. You are now up-to-date. Thank you to everyone who has written, called, texted, etc, to let Amber and I know you are thinking about us. Your continued support and prayers are very much appreciated. We thought we were prepared for the difficult road that this IVF process would be, but these past couple days have been more than we ever anticipated. With that said, we are very thankful that things did not turn out any worse than they have.
Hopefully Amber will be back on her feet soon and writing to provide her witty take on everything that has taken place this week. I’m not sure when that will be, but we know many people are following our journey and we will do our best to keep you updated with any new developments. Thanks again to everyone for your support!
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Ladies and gentleman we have made it!! I feel bruised, bloated, emotionally unstable and have a serious case of general malaise. I have come to one conclusion, IVF is not for wusses!!! We've become champs at the HMG injections/ultrasound/IUI routine, but IVF is an entirely different beast all together! You can see by the pic (please excuse the bloating, I have a lot of follicles growing) a glimpse of how intense it has been.
This being said, however, we went back to Chatt on Monday for another ultrasound. Although the follicles grew, we were still at an "iffy" phase for follicle size. Some were large enough, but a few were lagging behind. So we left Chatt Monday feeling befuddled. We were again waiting for the phone call regarding my labs before we knew if we'd have to undergo another round of stim injections or move on to the trigger shot. Who knew so much could be riding on an Estrodiol level??
I have been quite tired lately (is this a normal side effect of all the drugs/growing all these eggs??) so I dozed on and off on the couch after I dropped C off at work. I don't know his boss, but I'd like to hug him for being so understanding with all of these appts. It's a blessing to have him by my side and not forced to face the barrage of appointments alone. Finally, the phone rang and it turns out my Estrodiol was over 4000 so we were indeed ready to trigger. We shot up with the HCG injection (our 49th and final injection of this cycle) at precisely 10 pm.
I've been cleaning, doing laundry and gave the dog a bath just to occupy my mind because I can't believe I'm going to have an egg retrieval tomorrow! Ah! I went in for a deep tissue massage today to prep for tomorrow. If this lady wasn't utterly amazing with her hands I may have puked on her (I was feeling nauseous all morning). Here's a small interaction at the beginning of the massage:
Masseuse: Any areas you want me to avoid?
Me: Yes, my abdomen. I've been going through IVF so it's quite sore from injections.
Masseuse: Does that have anything to do with fertility?
Me: It sure does. Told her what it stood for.
Masseuse: You're back is full of knots! No wonder why you're having problems getting pregnant. It's so important for people to relax while trying to have kids. It happened to my sister; after 6 years of trying they gave up and then she got pregant!
Me: Rolling my eyes through the little face pillow and thinking you're lucky this feels so damn good, Peaches.
Normally this kind of interaction would bother me, but I felt so relaxed and calm I let it roll right off my back with the rest of my stress. She was a young thing, probably only 20 years old and she had no idea what she was saying. She did inform me my back was so knotted that I should really consider getting massages at least once a month. If she had any clue what I have been through, she may know just why my back was so knotted. Amazing massage minus Peaches ignorant comment.
So for the first time in 3 weeks we're not doing any shots today! What a rush! Nothing to eat or drink tonight after midnight for me. Tomorrow morning we're rushing off to Chattanooga at 8:15 for the retrieval. I'm apprehensive about the retrieval. I'm worried about Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, a needle possibly going through my abdomen (talked this over with the RE yesterday and feeling slightly better about it) and the general risk of dying (after all Michael Jackson died from Propofol so it could happen to me).
Wish us luck, say a prayer or keep us in your thoughts tomorrow please! It's going to be an intense day for both of us.
Until you hear from me again, Happy Egg Retrieval Eve!!
Sunday, October 30, 2011
We woke up at 6 am today *yawn* and made our way to Chattanooga. During the ultrasound, both of us knew something wasn't right. Dr. Murray was enthusiastic about all the follicles before the ultrasound, but during the ultrasound the enthusiasm faded. My follicles weren't measuring at the size he had anticipated. We were given 2 explanations- a. I had ovulated since Friday and this would mean canceling the whole cycle. b. People measure follicles differently and since I'm being monitored at two clinics, there could have been a slight discrepency between measurements. The MD added a progesterone level to my bloodwork to determine if I had ovulated.
The ride home was a bit stressful. I checked my phone every 4 minutes to make sure I didn't miss Dr. Murray's call. Thankfully, he called with the news we wanted! I had not ovulated. My follicles were not quite the right size; this was most likely a measuring discrepency. Easy fix. We're jacking up the Follistim to 225 units to get those follicles growing a little more. One more night of shots.
Unfortunately, we have to head back to Chattanooga again tomorrow morning for another ultrasound and labs. Not ideal, but what's a girl to do?
I've had plenty of transvaginal ultrasounds in my life by a variety of professionals. Everyone has had difficulty locating my left ovary, but I never thought anything of it. But, Dr. Murray enlightened us to the fact that they may have difficulty retrieving the eggs on my left ovary due to it's location. He explained they may need to use a very large needle and go in through my abdomen instead of the traditional method of aspirating the eggs vaginally. This would provide for a more complicated recovery. I'm not sure how I feel about this news. I'm quite nervous about the retrieval the way it is, but thinking about extra complications and recovery is freaking me out a bit. I'm just trying to push the retrieval piece out of my mind for now. First we have to get to that stage.
Back to Chatt tomorrow. Hopefully my infertility will play by the rules tomorrow!
Friday, October 28, 2011
I went in for my second monitoring ultrasound today and it went well!! I know, we have a long road ahead yet, but any positive news in the infertility battle is reason to celebrate. It was the longest wanding I've ever experienced, due to the number of eggs, but this girl isn't complaining!
I know you're just dying to hear about my egg follicles, so I won't draw it out any longer. My right ovary has 19 follicles measuring over 10. There were several at or below 10, but those will more then likely not catch up with the rest of them. My left ovary had 10 follicles measuring over 10. Most of the follicles were in the 12-14 size range. We want them to get to about 18-20 before we're ready to jab in the trigger shot. 29! 29 follicles!! This is great news! No wonder I feel so bloated.
The NP that did the ultrasound (she's a bit too 'cheerleadery' for me most days, but today I bought into the enthusiasm) was just as excited as I was. She was giddy with excitement. At one point she said, "they're going to have fun with you!" Not the kind of comment you typically would get excited about when you don't have pants on and a stranger is viewing your uterus, but again, I'll take what I can get. Go ahead and have fun with me!
Now what? I just got a call from Chatt and they want us to come to them on Sunday for an ultrasound at 8:30. Not an ideal situation. Since it's the weekend and we're at a crucial point in the monitoring game, the nurse said they prefer their 'out of town patients' come in to the office at this point. I get it. It would be difficult to ensure info is sent from one clinic to the other on a Sunday and we absolutely need to hear back from the MD on Sunday after reviewing labs with the ultrasound to know what our next move is. So, we're heading to Chatt Sunday and *h0pefully* will be doing the trigger shot on Sunday night. This means our egg retrieval (which I'm very nervous about) would be on Tuesday morning.
The NP told me to take it easy to let those follicles grow. I guess I'll be taking it easy the rest of the day. Doctor's orders!
I landed in the hospital back in May '07 for an ileus. I had an abdominal CT done that gave me the diagnosis. From the CT, the doc discovered I had a dermoid cyst (Side creepy note-you're born with dermoid cysts. They are referred to as 'your lost twin' because they contain mature tissue that may include skin complete with hair follicles, hair, sebum, blood, fat, nails, teeth, cartilage, eyes, and other tissues. Doody told me mine had hair the same color as the hair on my head. Gross.) and also a septate uterine. Once I was discharged from the hospital, I was told to seek out an OB bc surgery was necessary to correct both of these conditions. Keep in mind, at this time, we had moved to Knoxville only 6 months earlier and were absolutely not trying for kids at the time. We were still working on careers and wanted kids once our careers were well established.
I picked an OB (I didn't have one yet in Knox) and went in for an appt. She recommended a specialist for the surgery due to where the cyst was; there was a moderate risk of losing my left ovary. It turns out, she had infertility problems and went to a RE in Knoxville, Dr. Doody, and she highly recommended him. It takes months to get in to have an appointment with Dr. Doody, but she graciously called him and made a personal referral on my behalf. I had an appointment in a few weeks.
Once I started seeing Dr. Doody, the rest is history. (Yup. Real name. Doody. Go ahead an laugh.) We've been seeing him since the summer of '07 and he's operated on my 3 times. First to remove the cyst (I was able to keep my ovary). When he did that surgery, he discovered I had severe endometriosis and was told I needed another surgery to correct it as well as the septate uterus. Once all of this was fixed, he asked when/if we were thinking about having kids. Doody caught us off guard with that question, because it wasn't on our radar for another few years. Due to the endometriosis, he recommended we should start thinking about kids, sooner rather then later, if it was something we wanted to pursue. Obviously, we thought it over and decided it was time to jump on the kid wagon! We had no idea it would take years!!! So, sad to say, we've never 'tried' having kids the old fashion way; we'd been diligently avoiding pregnancy since we got married via the pill. Our first attempt at getting pregnant included a month with Clomid and ovulation predictor tests. I often wonder what it feels like to be married, decide to have kids, throw out the pill and get after it! We'll never know what that's like....
All 'Doody' jokes aside, we both highly respect him as a physician and a person. He's understanding, patient and considerate. He's the kind of MD that takes you into his cozy office to have discussions rather then having them in a sterile exam room. He always takes his time and listens to all of your questions and concerns. We've always felt comfortable with him.
Although we were pregnant after our first injection/IUI cycle in Oct '09, it ended in a miscarriage and D&C. We did 2 IUI's after we scraped ourselves off the floor from that experience, but neither were successful. We had lightly discussed IVF with Dr. Doody following our miscarriage, but he felt confident with the one pregnancy (and correctable genetic issue), that we were sure to have success with another IUI.
Obviously this didn't happen, so we had a 'WTF meeting' with Dr. Doody to discuss IVF once and for all. Unfortunately, he does not specialize in IVF. Turns out there are no clinics in Knoxville that do. Who knew?! He had two recommendations of clinics in Chattanooga and Nashville. Then the research started... Nashville is about 2.5 hours from us and Chatt is 1.5 hrs. Advantage Chatt. Chatt is a new clinic, but, according to both Dr. Doody and Dr. Google, they are well on their way to becoming one of the best IVF clinics in the country. Advantage Chatt. Doody's office said they would work with us no matter which clinic we chose. We ended up choosing Tennessee Reproductive Medicine, the clinic in Chattanooga.
We've only had to go to Chatt 3 times so far; 2 more for the upcoming retrieval and transfer. I've been able to do all the monitoring and labs out of Doody's office in Knoxville. Both offices have been wonderful about coordinating schedules and information back and forth. Up to this point, I've been pleased with both clinics.
So anyway, that's the story of why we're running back and forth from Knoxville to Chattanooga and seeing two RE's in two different cities.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
This appt was at Doody's office and was fairly uneventful. I got to see my favorite NP, Andra. Results: (drum role please) there are about 35ish follicles growing-25 on my right ovary and 10 on my left ovary. WHOA! That's a lot of potential babies. No wonder I feel swollen!! She didn't bother on counting them all bc they are small and we'll be seeing how many progress in the next few days.
I got a call from Chatt this afternoon after receiving and reviewing my ultrasound from earlier. We will be decreasing the Follistim to 150, but continuing on with all the other meds and returning for ultrasound 2 on Friday. The RN that called me from Chatt said everything looked "great." I'm enjoying every single victory I can get, no matter how small.
We're right on track for a retrieval next week!!
In the meantime, I am working tonight *yawn* and doing my best to get those follicles growing!! I have to get shot up with 3 shots by the husband then rush to the hospital to work.
We got a new roof on our house over the past 2 days so work should be interesting since I wasn't able to sleep much today. BUT, I'm not complaining. I have 35 follicles! Grow grow grow!!!
Friday, October 21, 2011
Now that I got that out of the way, here we are. We're at the stimulation day. All the stimulating drugs are in the arsenal and ready to take over control of my ovaries. I have a few worries about this phase, but I am just hoping and praying it goes smoothly and brings us the results we've been trying to get to for 3.5 years. Sometimes I still can't believe we're actually doing this. I never anticipated we'd have to undergo such difficulty in trying to start a family. Like it or not this is our reality.
For those of you who are not sure what this means, besides me becoming a hormonal nut case in the next week, it also means I'll be receiving gonadotropins-hormones that will stimulate my ovaries to produce multiple eggs. This phase will be about 8-12 days and will include ultrasounds to track the number and size of the ovarian follicles as well as Estrodiol levels.
I will be taking:
* 225 units of Follistim (injection)
* 75 units of HMG (injection)
* 5 units of Lupron (injection)
* 5mg of Letrozole (tablet)
* 1 mg Dexamethasone (tablet)
* Metanex tablets twice a dayCollin will be taking antibiotics for a week. Woohoo! He get's to join in the party and take some drugs with me! Is it just me or is that a lot of drugs to be taking?!
I'll be heading in on Wednesday for my first monitoring visit where I'll get to do my favorite stirrup-ed ultrasound to check out how these eggs are growing. We've had success with this portion of the process before, so I have high expectations for my ovaries this time around. Don't let me down!! Although this part before only included HMG; adding in all these other drugs makes it a whole new ball game! Let's hope I can keep it together for my wonderful husband. We've been married 5 years and it still makes me giddy to use the word 'husband.' I am completely enamored by this man! I hope, despite my impending hormornal surge, I can keep it together for him.
Let the fun begin!!!
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
I knew I couldn't remain optimistic forever...I received a call yesterday to inform me my Estrodiol was 27. This is an acceptable number to move forward with the injections on Friday. I know it's not exciting news, but in this infertility game, you have to celebrate any and every victory. Great news.
I did an inventory of our stockpile of meds. I read over our calendar for the 100th time to make sure we have the timeline down. I’ve been taking the shots in the stomach like clockwork. I looked through the checking/savings accounts and saw a considerable chunk of money missing. Everything seemed to hit home all of a sudden.
We are actually doing this. We are doing IVF. We are making test tube babies. We are embarking on a brand new adventure that has an unknown ending. When we started out on this journey, I thought a few meds would make this whole thing work. I never imagined life would bring us here. I never anticipated how many tears I’d shed over something I’ve never had. Collin and I have worked diligently over the past 9 years making many of our dreams come to fruition. We’ve always shared the idealism that you can make anything you want happen as long as you’re willing to put in hard work along the way. We’ve put in more then our fair share of hard work when it comes to infertility, but it seems this is the one thing we can’t accomplish.
I’ve been reading a lot of blogs; there are many out there that offer great support and have offered a much-needed glimpse into what the next few weeks entail. However, for as many inspirational stories I have read about women in the same situation as myself that end in pregnancy and a baby after 1 IVF, there are dozens of harrowing stories of women have gone through IVF 3-4 times and have nothing to show for it aside from bruises, tears and an empty bank account. I read a blog today of a lady who lost her twins at 20 weeks. It was a despairing read. Why do things like this happen??
So here I sit…questioning. What do we do if this doesn’t work? Where do we go from here? Do we continue to drain our bank accounts while chasing this dream? When do we throw our arms up and admit defeat? Can we admit defeat? Is this the one thing we can’t achieve no matter how hard we try? What if this results in pregnancy and another miscarriage? What if this actually works? What will we do with all our time, energy and resources if we’re not devoting it entirely to infertility?
The list goes on and on… I’m just starting to worry. I want this more than anything. I hope these questions go away. I worked a 12 hr night shift last night and I’m hoping between feeling ill (I’ve had a headache I haven’t been able to get rid of for 2 days) and tired, this will pass with some warm tea, time and yoga. This uneasiness that has taken over my day is really starting to be a drag.There’s no stopping now. We’re in this up to our eyeballs. I just hope it works….the alternative seems unbearable.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Fast forward past the weekend to Sunday night and after watching the Vikings lose (poor C), we went to sleep. What felt like 2 minutes after falling asleep, we were woke by a screaming alarm sound. We have an alarm on our house, but it wasn't the house alarm. It was the smoke detector in our bedroom. We have vaulted ceilings and the smoke alarm is quite high and does a fine job of echoing across the high ceiling. C, always the more level headed one, jumped out of bed and ran downstairs. He returned a few minutes later and I asked him what he was doing. He said he was checking to see if the house was on fire. Oh yeah....I was in such a stupor from just waking up, I didn't even think of that! Turns out it was a false alarm and I have no idea why it went off. C changes the batteries regularly, but about 2 times a year that thing goes off for a minute in the middle of the night and then turns off. Not a good way to wake up. Neither one of us slept well the rest of the night.
Now that it's Monday, I had a mini break down in the a.m., I haven't been feeling great and I got to thinking about growing old. I asked C what I would do if we had no kids and something happened to him. I'd be all alone with no one to take care of me. I'm sure I'd be a crazy cat lady.... C, with his calm demeanor, assured me this wouldn't happen and calmed me down. I had a monitoring appt back at Doody's office. The office can either be right on time or lagging behind by 45 minutes. Today they were on time! It was a suppression check; basically just a check to see if everything is calm and quiet in the uterus department so we can move forward piling on the drugs Friday. Everything looked great and calm in there; lots of tiny egg follicles (which is a good thing). I also had blood work drawn, an estrodiol, and as long as that looks fine, we're moving ahead on Friday. The appointment was uneventful. I did notice a hippo stamp on the outside of my chart. It looks like a sad hippo and it's blue. I 'm not sure if this means I'm seeking tx elsewhere so they know what's going on with my appointments or if it means I have overstayed my welcome at their clinic and they should try to get rid of me asap or if it means I had a sad experience in the office (being made aware of the miscarriage) and everyone should be extra nice? Kind of creepy. I did pass 2 little adorable girls in the parking lot walking hand in hand (with their mom of course) and both of them said hi to me. I'm taking it as a sign from God...I keep telling C we're having twin girls!
I'm tolerating the Lupron shots fine. One of them required some cussing. I'm not sure what went wrong, but it hurt and bled afterwards. C has been doing a fine job administering the drugs. I'm not brave enough to do give them myself. I can stick other people with needles just fine, in fact, I get paid to do it, but I just can't turn the needle on myself. The only side effects I've had are headaches, hot flashes and tiredness. Very tolerable compared to my last Lupron experience.
Let's hope this week goes smoother then the weekend...
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Ah Lupron we meet again. I think Satan invented this drug. I honestly do. Hear me out: I was on a high dosage of it for 3 months prior to having surgery to remove Endometriosis tissue. Without getting too involved with how the meds work and what hormones it suppresses, it essentially puts your ovaries to sleep (aka menopause-like state). Since your ovaries are in "menopause", you get the symptoms that come with menopause including hot flashes, night sweats, headaches, dizziness and mood swings to boot. When I was on it for 3 months, there were times I completely lost it. I was ashamed of the way I treated people...I thought I may have developed Bipolar Disorder. It was terrible!!! In my last month of the med I called Doody's office in despair and told them they had to give me something to balance out how I was feeling. They gave me an estrogen patch, after much pleading, and it helped tremendously! Since Lupron is so effective in treating Endo, Dr. Doody suggested I go on it again while taking breaks between cycles. I flat out refused. I told Doody that if he wanted me to be able to have a husband to reproduce with, Lupron was not an option. I was sure another round of Lupron would send Collin packing (and rightfully so). So anyway, I'm on it again, but this is a smaller dose and much more manageable, so far. I'll let you know how I'm feeling after being on it for another 11 days. In preparation of the possible unwarranted crabbiness to come, Collin and I have developed a code word. When I'm getting crabby, he's supposed to say "puppies" and then I'll remember to take a deep breath and count to 10. We've had to use it already and it worked. I stopped mid-rant and just started laughing. Here's to hoping I can keep my moods in check over the next few weeks.
I am also taking Metanx currently. After the miscarriage, we did genetic testing to see if this was to blame. It turns out, I have a genetic defect called Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR). Collin is also a carrier for this defect. This big long name means my body doesn't absorb folic acid, an essential nutrient for brain and spinal cord development in babies. Our baby didn't have proper brain or spinal development, therefore, it was thought I miscarried because of this genetic defect. If only I'd have known this information sooner, this could have been prevented...ugh!!!!!!! Metanx gives me folic acid in a different form so my body can absorb it. The MD told me I should be on it (or a similar med) for the rest of my life! That seems like a long time...
Other then the drugs, we also went to our trial transfer in Chatt yesterday. I had to have a full bladder for the procedure so I started chugging water on the road. By the time we got to the clinic, my bladder was indeed full, and sitting in the waiting area listening to their water feature was pure torture! We did the procedure, which to my surprise, was relatively simple. I had some cramping for a few hours afterward from the catheter, but that's it. We got great news (any positive praise I get on my whacky uterus is classified as great no matter how nominal the news) because it was easy to locate and see and Dr. Scotchie thought the embryo transfer should be a breeze.
While at the clinic, we also signed all the consents. Amidst these straightforward consents, we had to sign consents for our embryos, should there be any to freeze, to determine what should be done with them if I die, Collin dies, we both die, we divorce or when I turn 49 (too old to have a child). Thinking of these scenarios was kind of odd. In case you're wondering, we're giving them to each other if either one of us dies, if we both die we're donating them to another infertile couple, if we divorce C has graciously agreed to hand them over to me, and if we're 49 and age out, we're donating them. I told Dr. Scotchie she'd be awful sick of me if I kept coming to see her for another 20 years trying to get pregnant! She pointed out, our embryos would be 20 years old! Imagine...living in a test tube peering out at the world thru glass for 20 years...
We also had to pay up for all this fine care we are about to receive. That one hurt a little. Nothing like handing over hard earned cash for a "chance" at getting pregnant. Side note: I am convinced this is the time it will work!!! On the way to the car, C said we should feel good about it because it's our little way of helping to stimulate the economy. I guess that's one way to look at it...
Thursday, October 6, 2011
As I am sitting here, typing on our beloved iMac, I must first say rest in peace to the innovative Steve Jobs.
Here's the run down on what we've been up to: we joined in the neighborhood rummage sale (our first rummage sale experience ever) over the weekend. We both were surprised how easy it was to sell junk to strangers and we were entertained by some of East Tennessee's finest. We didn't have a lot to sell; but we got rid of a bunch of stuff that was sitting around the house and we managed to make $88. One guy paid with a $100 bill toward the end and I'm paranoid that it's a counterfeit. Now to find an inconspicuous location to spend the bill so I don't get arrested when trying to pass counterfeit bills at Target... We also had some friends over for dinner Saturday night. Since our fridge is stocked with various fertility meds, we had to be creative to hide them. These people don't know what we've been going thru and I didn't want them to think we're running some kind of meth business out of our house. Collin can give Bobby Flay a run for his money on the grill. Yum! It was a farewell party of sorts (although our friends weren't made aware of this either). We had margaritas with our dinner and this was my last cocktail for a while (the longer I have a reason to extend this absence the better....like 9 months would be perfect!) Adios alcohol. Next up, caffeine.
I feel like I've been in fast forward mode the past few weeks. I've been picking up extra shifts at work in preparation to work less when we start the IVF appointments (Monday brought a 16 hour work day. Ugh.) Collin has been on a few trips for work; he just returned from Philly last night. We've had a few projects around the house as well. Starting today, the hectic work schedule is on pause for the time being.
I am well aware stress can have a negative impact on the entire fertility process (just relax, right?), so I have been/will be making an effort to slow down and relax. It's about that time to make the positive life changes like we have at the beginning of every cycle (i.e. give up alcohol and caffeine, eat organic, exercise regularly etc.). Every cycle starts out with a renewed hope. This could actually be the one that is successful and brings us the baby we have been yearning for! This could be it!! This could be the end of our 3+ year struggle!! Why not give it everything we can?
If you're experiencing infertility, I know you'd do anything to make it go away. I'd stand on my head, skip instead of walk, or shave my head if someone told me it would make our chances of success better. If anyone has suggestions for what they do prepping for/during a cycle feel free to send them my way. I've read up on a few books, Navigating the Land of IF and Fully Fertile. I also started a yoga and relaxation DVD (thanks for the idea Julie!) Today was my first time trying the DVD and I felt so relaxed afterward, I didn't want to get up off the floor. I know acupuncture can be an advantage, however, this is an option I'm not pursuing at this time. Collin did get me a gift card to my favorite salon and spa, so I do plan on getting a few massages over the next few weeks. I don't know what else I could possibly do?! I know all of this could be completely absurd and have zero influence on the outcome of the IVF. However, it makes me feel like I have some kind of control over this uncontrollable situation and it keeps me feeling sane, so I'm going with it!
We're scheduled to head to Chatt on Monday for the trial transfer, to sign the 31 pages of consents (yes, I counted them) and hand over the payment for all of these fine services. Not all clinics do a trial transfer, but I have been told it is simply to determine the angle and depth of the uterus so the RE can map it out ahead of time in order to have a smooth embryo transfer. Although I'm not looking forward to logging more stirrup time, it will be useful info for the RE, Dr. Scotchie, since I have a messed up uterus with odd angles and that thing is just down right uncooperative when it comes to things like this. Anything to make the embryo transfer a smooth process.
*3 days until the shots begin!*
Friday, September 30, 2011
At the moment, I am verklempt. Yup, verklempt. Apparently, I speak Yiddish during overwhelming times such as this. The box I have been waiting for has arrived today...the medicines! The pic includes all the meds I will be taking in the next month. Yes, all this in ONE month. Yikes. (I blurred out some of it so my address couldn't be seen bc you never know about creepers!)
I had the IVF class last week. I met with 2 RN's and went over all the meds I'd be taking, when to take them and how they will be given. I have a sheet of paper filled with all the instructions. Both of the nurses have been through infertility treatments (or at least they said they were), and this was oddly comforting. Although I don't like to be ignored, I also don't enjoy pity parties. These women were receptive, informative, encouraging and eased the worries I had and made the copious amount of information comprehensible. I honestly think it helped that they had been in my shoes before. Because I can't seem to enter a doctor's office without taking off my pants or being stuck by a needle these days, of course I had a lab draw while I was there. The meeting made me feel competent about the next month's activities.
Shortly after my meeting, I got in contact with the specialty pharmacy the clinic uses. You have to use a specialty pharmacy because your neighborhood Walgreen's won't be stocked with these meds. They overnight the meds to your house (how convenient!) so this gives you enough time to scrape yourself off the ceiling after they tell you the total cost of the medicines. We had leftover HMG injections from our previous cycles, so this saved quite a bit of cash. Despite this "savings" we still dropped over $1,800 for the rest of the medicines. You heard me right. Yowza. I think we're lucky(?), because our insurance paid for a portion of all the meds with the exception of the Follistim. The Follistim came in at a staggering $1671! Ah!! Talk about sticker shock...
Anyway, the meds have arrived. A nurse called me today from the pharmacy and went over each of the meds, side effects, etc. This was a nice touch. The main side effect for each of the drugs is "emotional instability." She warned me I may have frequent mood swings. Oh boy. I am seriously considering locking myself in our bedroom for a few weeks. I've been on meds before that have made me "emotionally unstable" and it was a harrowing experience to say the least (Poor Collin). I need a cocktail, but since I'm quitting cocktails (and caffeine) I can't even find solace in a brandy old fashion.
All of this makes me feel guilty. It's not fair to put Collin through this...I dislike that his wife has a wonky uterus. I wish there was something I could do. Life is just not freaking fair. I could think of a lot of things to do with $1800 and none of them include shoving needles into myself.
Anyway, the countdown has begun. 8 days until we officially start our first (and hopefully last) IVF cycle!