bed rest: day 1 — September 30, 2015

bed rest: day 1

Ross drove home yesterday from the surgery center while I kicked back in the reclined car seat and texted a lot of friends and family. Made a quick stop at Chipoltle since it was 1:15pm and neither one of us had eaten anything. I was not required to fast before the procedure yesterday, but nothing was sounding good due to some nerves. We had been back home all of 10 minutes when Ross’ sister and her husband stopped by. I finished my lunch and then relaxed in the recliner for a few hours during the visit. 

I had received so much encouragement throughout the morning. Yesterday I got this from my sister in law:

  

Earlier that morning, before we left for the transfer, I was texting my best friend and she let me know that she had texted the ladies she works with to remind them to pray for me, as this is something they have been doing for a while now. She also sent me this:
  
  

While texting friends and family before the transfer, I heard back from a friend from work who had told me last week that the women’s Bible study she meets with weekly choose something or someone to pray for for the next week and they each take a day to focus on whatever the topic is or whoever the person might be. She had already let me know that I was going to be the focus of their prayers for the last week, but what is so cool about this is that I responded to her text at 11:22am. She said that a reminder that God has given her is Mark 11:22 – “Jesus said, Have faith in God.” So cool!!

After the transfer was complete, my cousin called later in the evening to tell me that she had an alarm set for 11:30 and that as soon as it went off, she and the ladies she works with gathered to pray. 

I know that so many others have been praying for Ross and I during this journey and we have felt those prayers! We have received so many words of encouragement from friends and family. We love you all and cannot express what your thoughtfulness has meant to us. 

I have the guest room all set up for veggin’ out. After Amanda and Greg left yesterday, I transferred to the guest room and Ross moved the Apple TV from the living room to the guest room. 

  

My Mom came by as soon as she was off from work and then my Dad was here soon after. They made dinner for us, which was amazing! T-bone steaks that were an inch and a half thick, asparagus, roasted potatoes and fresh pineapple. After dinner, we watched the new Cinderella movie that just came out on Redbox and ate cookies. Mom and Dad left around 9pm. I was in bed before 11 and slept pretty solid until 8am this morning. 

We have so much support from friends and family. We have been overwhelmed with offers for meals and visits. We are so appreciative. It really helps that Ross works from home. He is able to keep an eye on me and he check in at least once an hour to make sure I’m laying down. We love you all very much and truly appreciate your thoughtfulness!

transfer complete —

transfer complete

Ross and I left our house just before 9am yesterday morning. I had to stop by the office for a few minutes to wrap something up and then we were on our way downtown. Traffic was light with just a few slow-downs. The nurse who had called the day before to give me pre-procedure instructions asked that we park on the second level of the parking garage and walk into the building. Simple enough, right? Wrong. We somehow walked into a completely different building!! We knew we needed to take the elevator up to the 3rd floor, but when we did, I knew right away everything was different. We were laughing as we made it down to the first floor, out the front of that building and into the correct building. The two buildings are so close together that they share the same parking garage, which I still think is totally confusing. 

However, due to the fact that Ross insisted we leave an hour and a half early for a trip that typically takes just under an hour served us well. We were supposed to be there by 10:30, and due to the stop at work and then the parking confusion, it was 10:23 when I signed to to register. We have been to this location 5 or 6 times, but have always parked in the same spot and gone right in. That’s what happens when you change things up for creatures of habit. 

They want you to have a full bladder for this procedure. I was instructed to bring two bottles of water with me. I was to empty my bladder at home before we left, drink one bottle on the way and the other bottle when I arrived and had checked in. I drank the first bottle slowly and was feeling rather proud of myself because we had arrived and I still did not feel the urge to go. As I was checking in at registration, the woman tells me that my procedure was at 11:30. I attempted to correct her, as I was positive that I had been told it was at 11:00, and she a matter of factly told me “No, you are scheduled for 11:30.” All of a sudden I had to pee. That was over an hour away!! I finished my form they had me fill out and we walked down the hall to the surgery center. 

We sat down to wait. The surgery center shares another location for our clinic. I think there are 10 clinic locations in the Houston area. I went to the clinic side to ask about the whole water situation. Since I already had to go, I wanted to know if they expected me to drink another bottle of water.  The receptionist misunderstood my question and said, “Oh, if you need another bottle of water, we have a lot back here. We can give you one.” That’s when she points over to a huge mountain of water. No, no, no. I did NOT need to see that in my current condition. I explained again my question and she directed me to go through the double doors on the surgery center half of the room to find a nurse to ask. 

The double doors she was referring to led back to the surgery pre op side. They also have the words “Authorized Personnel Only” clearly marked on them. So, naturally, I walked right in. I was ready for someone to kick me out before I could ask my question about the necessity of drinking a second bottle of water. I walked around the corner where I knew there was a nurse’s station. I asked her my question, she asked for my last name, looked at her chart and said that since I already had to pee, I did not have to drink the second bottle of water. Now I wish I had asked for her name so I could send her a thank you note! 

I walked back through the double doors, sat down next to Ross, and tried to keep my mind off of my bladder by scrolling through Facebook and playing a game on my phone. They called me back about 20 minutes later, took my vitals and got the list of my medications. She ran out of room on her form and I wasn’t even close to rattling them all off. I explained the urgency of my full bladder. When she took me to the restroom to change, she said I could pee for 3 seconds and then I had to stop. DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD THAT IS??? Usually when I finally get to go after holding it for a long time,  pray “Thank you, thank you.” This time, and hopefully the only time, I was praying “Please let it stop.” If you don’t have a full bladder at the appointed time of your procedure, they will make you wait while you drink more water and let someone else go ahead of you. I was NOT going to let that happen! 

I walk out of the bathroom in just my socks with the paper booties over them, the blue cap over my hair, naked from the waist-down with a hospital gown on over my t-shirt and a blanket wrapped around my waist for modesty. At that point, they had called Ross back and he was already wearing the gauze-like coveralls and paper booties over his boots. He didn’t have the shower cap looking thing on yet, I guess because he didn’t want to look silly. Um, too late, buddy, but nice try. That’s just a taste of what my world has been like the last two years of fertility treatments.  The nurse gave me a Valium and 800mg ibuprofen and said the doctor would be by soon. Dr G came in about 15 minutes later all set to go into the OR. Ross told the Doc that I might pee on him during the procedure. Without missing a beat, Dr G quickly replied “That hasn’t happened to me since Vegas, and I’m pretty sure I was the one on Valium that time.”

Dr G got up to leave saying he would see us in there and Ross put on his little blue cap since he had just seen the Dr dressed in all his garb and decided it was cool. The nurse came in to get us and we walked into the OR, where I got up onto the table and they immediately covered me with warm blankets. That’s my favorite part! They put my legs up on stirrups, quickly covered my whoo-ha and the Dr came in and immediately sat down and uncovered everything. Remember that blanket for mosdesty I mentioned earlier? Modesty doesn’t really exist in this world. The nurse pressed a sonogram on my belly (ah-hem, exploding bladder) and as soon as she did, the doctor exclaimed “Wow! Look at that full bladder!” Yeah, man, that’s no joke. Do what you have to do so that I can get to a restroom. Dr G inserted the speculum and began to prepare my uterus. As he was doing this, he asked about the movies I had lined up for the three days of bed rest. 

The embryologist came in and proudly showed us the picture of our embaby and said that it had survived  thawing process great and had started to hatch. She handed the picture to me to see and I gave it to Ross who was just behind me. Dr G inserted the ultrasound wand, had a few things adjusted on the monitor and faced the screen so that we could see too. He said that everything was looking just the way he wanted it too. I must have heard the phrase “One embryo transfer for Amanda G” at least 3 or 4 times as they each passed it off to each other. Dr G placed our baby in the catheter and sent it right in. We saw a bright flash. Immediately Dr G felt confident because he knew that this bright flash was more pronounced than it was in our first attempt back in April. They printed a picture for us and handed it to me which, again, I immediately handed to Ross for safe-keeping. They put the catheter under the microscope to ensure that the embryo did indeed make it out, which was quickly confirmed by the embryologist. Everything was wrapped up in all of about 10-15 minutes. Dr said that he wanted me in the office Friday October2 to check my hormone levels. He’s going to keep a closer eye on things this time around. 

They rolled a gurney up next to the OR table, I scooted over and they rolled me to recovery. The nurse left after asking me to get dressed and told Ross to come get her when I was ready to go to the restroom. I quickly dressed and Ross got the nurse’s attention and she escorted me to the restroom. SWEET RELIEF!! I walked out and the wheel chair was just outside the restroom door and we made our way to the parking lot. I got into the car and immediately reclined the seat for the 45 minute drive home. I sent out a multitude of texts with the pictures and had to charge my phone by the time we made it home because the battery was down to 24%. See below for the pictures of our sweet baby and please pray that it will find a good place in my uterus to attach itself to. 
 

 

Picture of embryo hatching after being thawed. I think it’s hatching at the top where its not completely round.
  
Embaby after being transfered to my uterus. Look for the small arrow pointing to the white flash. Hope it finds its happy place!!
 

transfer jitters — September 29, 2015

transfer jitters

I’m up, voluntarily, at 6am. Rarely does that happen, except on mornings like these. It was probably wishful thinking last night when I set my alarm for 8am, hoping that I would be able to sleep in. The morning of my last transfer, I was up at 4am, so I guess I’m making progress. 

Since I last posted, I have been to two acupuncture treatments. The first was last Thursday September 24th. I was too curious to sit back and relax. The needles felt like tiny pinches and some of them I didn’t feel at all. It took him all of two minutes to place the needles and then he covered me up with a blanket from the waist down, placed a warming lamp over my belly, turned on spa music and left me alone for 30 minutes. I tried to focus on my breathing and relax, but I kept opening my eyes to sneak a peek. 

The needles were placed from my knees to my toes, elbows to wrist, one just above and below my belly button and then a line of four right at my waist line. There was one right between my eyes on the bridge of my nose and one on the top of my head, which I didn’t even know was there until he came back later and took it out. I was clothed the whole time. He said it was okay if I fell asleep, but I knew that was not likely. I’m one of those people who can only sleep in a bed and the room has to be dark. Plus, my curiosity always gets the best of me and I was interested in the whole process. I did focus on my breathing and definitely felt relaxed after the full 30 minutes. 

He offered two supplements. I shouldn’t say “offered” because I paid 90 bucks for those things. I’m a sucker, but I’m willing to try anything that might help give us positive results this round. I called my doctor to make sure they were approved, which they were. The purpose of the acupuncture is to increase blood flow to the uterus which would give the embaby a better chance to stick. 

I also started my progesterone shots in oil the same day. Last night was the 5th night of the shots. It’s 2ml of oil administered by Ross, since I can’t get the angle right. The needle in 1.5″ long because the shot is intramuscular. It goes into my lower hip/upper butt area. I remember soreness with these shots the first round back in the spring, so when I wasn’t sore after the 3rd shot, I became concerned and called my cousin, who’s a nurse, to go over where we were putting the shot. Isn’t it crazy that I was worried that it didn’t hurt, rather than relieved? I’m still not 100% convinced, but Rebecca assured me that with an inch and a half needle, the progesterone was getting to where it needs to be. Because it’s in oil, it takes Ross about a minute to push it all out of the syringe. It really doesn’t hurt, aside from the initial stick. 

On Sunday, I began the Lovenox injections. This is a blood thinner Dr G feels may increase our odds of an embryo making a good stick. The shot is one I give myself. It’s in a pre-filled syringe and I give it daily on my belly. The nurse told me that some people go in rows so they wouldn’t give it in the same place twice, but after my second dose yesterday, I have no concerns being able to tell where I put the last dose. I have small round purple bruises at each injection site. The nurse at my clinic warned me that my belly would be black and blue. Again, I’m willing to do whatever it takes! 

Prednisone was added to my daily cocktail of medications, hormones and vitamins on Monday. I take two a day for just four days, but seriously? Another pill??

My second acupuncture treatment was yesterday, Monday September 29th. The acupuncturist has practices in two locations. One in The Woodlands and one down in Houston. The Woodlands office is not open on Mondays, so down to Houston I went. The drive was about 40 miles. I was able to go back as soon as I got there. The needles were placed in the same general areas as before, but not in the exact same spots. He also hooked up this device to two of the needles on my belly that sent electric waves. He assured me that it would not hurt. It felt like light vibrating on my stomach and after a while, I hardly noticed it. After the needles were all placed, it was the same drill as last time with the blanket and the music. I was able to relax more this time, but no falling asleep for me! Drove back to work after that and finished up my day. 

After work yesterday, I was able to go to an infertility support group. It is always held on the last Monday of the month. It is facilited by a counselor who focuses on working with couples and women facing infertility. Some might remember when I was raising money for a Resolve walk last spring. Resolve is a non-profit organization that helps bring awareness to infertility. This support group is also through Resolve. 

Five of us there knew each other from previous meetings and there was one new woman. We discussed how infertility is a medical diagnosis and that often our friends and family members are not always sure how to react. Part of that is that there still seems to be a stigma of shame associated with infertility. While infertility is not life threatening in most cases, it is still a diagnosis that so many couples are unsure of how to deal with. It was a good group and it so encouraging to be there. The hour always goes by too quickly. 

Well, if you are still with me, congratulations! You made it to the end! And, typing this on my iPad took almost an hour. It’s close to 7am now. We will be leaving the house just after 9am to make sure we get there by 10:30am. Procedure is at 11am. Prayers are greatly appreciated!!

quick update —
estrogen, estrogen, estrogen…..estrogen — September 23, 2015

estrogen, estrogen, estrogen…..estrogen

4 times a day, I am taking estrogen in a pill form. 3 times under the tongue and 1 other time I’d rather not mention again…see my last post if you really feel like you need that info. I went in for my doctor appointment this morning and spoke to the nurse. I was a bit concerned about the progress since they had me come back a day earlier than expected. The nurse told me that the lining of my uterus was not as defined as they would like it to be, so they added the additional pill. After just two extra doses, it appears to have done the trick. My lining today was looking much more on target compared to Monday.

TMI alert: the estrogen pill is blue, therefore, if you insert it in the particular area they requested, the result is blue discharge. The nurse asked me how all the meds were going and I mentioned that the one dose was a bit messy. She agreed and said that I may feel like a smurf. I hadn’t thought about that, but now I can’t get it out of my head. Thanks.

Dr. G was not in the office yet this morning, but the nurse told me that he would take a look at the scans and measurements and that they would call me this afternoon to let me know what he’s thinking. My uterus is currently measuring around 8mm. 8mm or more is the ideal. Some ways she measured, it was at a 7.8 or 7.9 and then other times it was 8.1 to 8.3. It would be nice if it were measuring over 8mm, but the nurse did not seem too concerned about it. Again, the doctor will have the final say-so.

He may have me come back in on Friday, which would mean that the transfer would be pushed to next Thursday Oct 1. If all looks good to him today, the transfer date will stay the same, which is Tuesday Sept 29. I was also given a prescription for Lovenox today, which is an injection blood thinner I will begin administering the day of transfer and will continue daily until I have a pregnancy test, which will be two weeks after the transfer. If the test is positive, the blood thinner will continue through the first trimester until I graduate to my regular ObGyn and at that point Dr. G and Dr. W will discuss the necessity of continuing the lovenox through the rest of the pregnancy or not. The nurse warned me that because it is a blood thinner, my stomach will be black and blue at the injection sites.

We ran through all my meds again at the doctor’s office and they verified that I already had my progesterone (also a shot), which I do. I am also continuing to take a pre-natal vitamin, 300mg CoQ10, Vitamin D, Folguard, baby aspirin, and the estrogen patch that is changed out every 3 days. At this point, my body is not producing its own hormones. It is all being dictated by the doctor and the medications he has me taking. Still no crazy side effects, but if you ask Ross, he might have a different story…

update #47 —

update #47

I haven’t really updated that many times, but some days it feels like it! I went to the doctor yesterday, Monday September 21. Another ultrasound and blood work done. The nurse said that everything was looking good and that they would contact me when they got the lab work back that afternoon. They called and left a message while I was leading a group with my teenagers, so I didn’t get to listen to the message until after office hours. Doctor reviewed my labs. Remember that estrogen pill I take under the tongue three times a day? He wants me to start inserting one of those pills vaginally. Ew. Gross. Sorry to any of the male readers that just read that, but I’m pretty disturbed by it too, if it makes you feel any better. 

When I left the clinic yesterday, the plan was to have me come back Thursday the 24th for another ultrasound and blood work, but they want me back on Wednesday the 23rd instead. I’ll update again tomorrow when I know more. 

I’m scheduled to begin acupuncture on Thursday. The initial appointment is 60-90 minutes long. I’ll go back 24 hours before the transfer and then again 3-4 days after the transfer. The acupuncture is supposed to increase blood flow to the uterus to help improve the odds of IVF. At this point, I’m willing to try anything. Plus, it’s supposed to help decrease stress and anxiety. I’m hoping for positive results. 

hurry up and wait — September 15, 2015

hurry up and wait

Today is my 6th day taking the estrogen pills and wearing the patch. All is good, as far as I can tell. I went in for an ultrasound and blood work this morning. The nurse made a comment that I’m an over-achiever because of how good my uterus looks just a week into my cycle. Yup. This is my life right now. It revolves around the status of my uterus. 

I actually got to my 9:00am appointment on time (okay, it 9:06, but that’s huge progress for me. Definitely a habit I need to break…maybe tomorrow). I wait 30 minutes and they call me back. After a quick blood draw, I go into the exam room and wait. I’m almost positive I heard Dr G’s voice while I was in the waiting room, but the nurse walks in for the ultrasound. Maybe he was in the office this morning, or maybe I’m hearing things. The scan lasts all of a few minutes and then I get dressed and make appointments for next week. 

I was about to leave when I asked about acupuncture and whether or not the clinic refers to someone. The nurse gave me a flyer and encouraged me to check it out. It is believed that acupuncture with IVF can increase blood flow to the uterus and decrease stress. It’s supposed to be very relaxing. I left a message with the acupuncture place this morning and they got back to me this afternoon to let me know about an opening tomorrow morning. I’ll go in for a free 15 minute consult and then decide if I would like to become a patient. I’m looking forward to learning more about it. 

The clinic sent a text asking me to check my patient portal for a new message this afternoon. The message said that Dr G thought my labs looked great and I will go back in next Monday September 21 for another ultrasound and blood work. I also have another appointment set up for Thursday September 24 for an ultrasound and blood work again. As long as things are right on target, I will begin the progesterone shot Thursday night and then the transfer will be the following Tuesday September 29th. 

Pictured is the patch i wear on my hip and the pill i take 3 times a day.
truth — September 12, 2015
pills and patches — September 10, 2015

pills and patches

Had my baseline ultrasound and blood work appointment this morning. Had the blood draw first and then sat in the conference room waiting for a room to open up. The nurse came back and told me I could go to room 3. Same drill every time…naked from the waist down. I’m sitting there with a paper sheet on my lap and hear a knock at the door and someone asking me if I was ready. I replied that they could come in and then I hear “The door’s locked.” What?!?!?! What am I supposed to do? I get up and slowly walk over to the door, praying my paper sheet is keeping me modest (probably not) and I open the door a crack. 

I let the nurse in and quickly say I had no idea how it locked and she brushes it off like it was no big deal. If these appointments all of a sudden weren’t awkward, I might be concerned. I go back toward the exam table and whack one of the stirrups with my leg because I was walking backwards to try to keep from flashing the nurse. 

She congratulates me on the 2 healthy embryos (yay!) and starts the ultrasound. I warn her that my left ovary was very difficult to find last month. She says that one of the other nurses might come in to check on us to make sure everything was going well, so someone had already warned her about the ovary. She spent some time looking at my uterus and took a few screen shots for Dr G to review later since he was in surgery this morning. There was another knock at the door and the nurse said it was alright to come in and then I hear “It’s locked.” (Again?!?!) the nurse who was in with me tells her that everything is going fine. This girl finds my left ovary right away! Where was she last month?? She did have a bit of trouble finding the right, but she still found it. I know the ovaries typically take turns alternating months, but it appears when it’s an off month, that ovary takes it pretty seriously. Last month it was the left and now this month it is the right. 

I asked her a few questions about timing for the transfer and what to expect. She said they would likely call in the prescriptions today and that Dr G would review the scans and lab work and they would let me know more later in the afternoon. I got an email a few hours later from the pharmacy letting me know my prescriptions were ready. I decided to go ahead and pick them up since I had a late night tonight at work because I had the family group from 6-9. The nurse called about 1:15pm and said that Dr G wanted to get everything started today. I told her that I had stopped to pick up the meds on my way in to work and she directed me to go ahead and start. So far, it’s the same as the last round of IVF that we did in the spring. Estrogen in a pill form 3 times a day under the tongue until it dissolves and an estrogen patch that is changed out every three days. It’s a different brand of patch this time, but I don’t think it makes a difference. 

I remember the main side effect of the estrogen last go-around was hot flashes, which is clearly stated on the label. The hot flashes started within a few hours of my first dose today. Other than that, I can’t complain. The last week or two at work have been stressful and I unexpectedly had to lead multi-family group with 6 families tonight, so about 10 minutes before I had to bring them back from the waiting room, I turned off the overhead lights in my office leaving just the light from my desk lamp and window, closed the door, sat in my chair and tried to clear my head and spent some time praying for the families. Group went well, despite some tension among family members. 

I’ll go back to see the doctor on Monday morning September 14th. 

and the results are in… — September 9, 2015

and the results are in…

Excited to share the results of our PGS testing. To refresh your memory, 4 eggs were retrieved August 28. 3 of those eggs fertilized and 2 made it to the blastocyst stage (day 5, September 2nd) to be biopsied. We were told that it typically takes about 10 business days for the PGS results to come back, which put us on track for next Wednesday September 16th. 

I got a phone call and voicemail from my clinic about 11:45am this morning, September 8, but was not able to listen to it until about 1:30pm this afternoon, as it was a crazy day at work. I was thinking the call had to do with my appointment tomorrow since I started my cycle yesterday and called them early this morning to let them know and set up my baseline blood work and ultrasound for this month. I listened to the voicemail and the nurse that left the message said that BOTH embryos are healthy!!! This is HUGE because our first cycle had 6 eggs retrieved, with 5 fertilized and 4 making it to the blastocyst stage. Out of those 4, just 1 was normal. 

I called Ross and told him, then called my mom. She was excited and we were both saying that we couldn’t believe it when my mom stopped and said she didn’t know why we were so surprised because so many people were praying for this result. I’m beyond humbled that our prayers have been answered. After the phone call to my mom, I shared the news with a few people, but then had to go straight back to work. 

I was at church this last Sunday morning and we sang a song during the worship service that really stood out to me. This was not a new song. I’ve sung it many times before in church or in my car while listening to the radio. One of my favorite things to do back when I actually bought CDs was to put in the new CD, take the jacket out of the front of the case and read the lyrics as the songs played. There’s something about hearing a song dozens of times, but then to actually read the words and think about what they mean, it can totally knock me off my feet. A lot of times this is because I finally realize I’ve been thinking the wrong word or phrase for so long, knowing that it didn’t make sense, but not questioning it either. 

Y’all may have heard this song too, but I wanted to leave the lyrics here. Maybe it will be as powerful for one of y’all as it was for me. This is the David Crowder version of a song written by John Mark McMillan. 

How He Loves Me

He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, I am a tree. Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.

When all of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory and I realize just how beautiful you are and how great your affections are for me. 

And oh, how He loves us, oh, how He loves us, how he loves us all. 

He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, I am a tree. Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.

When all of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory and I realize just how beautiful you are and how great your affections are for me. 

Oh, how He loves, yeah, He loves us. Oh, how He loves us, oh, how He loves us. Oh how He loves. 

And we are His portion and He is our prize; Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes; If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.

And heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss, and my heart turns violently inside of my chest; I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way…

Oh, He loves us, oh, how He loves us, how He loves all. How He loves.

Yeah, He loves us, oh, how He loves us, oh, how He loves us.

Yeah, He loves us, yeah, He loves us, how He loves us, oh, how He loves us all.

Here’s a link to the video. Enjoy!