ivf cycle 3: embryo update — November 25, 2016

ivf cycle 3: embryo update

It has been busy around here as my sister arrived with her family from Africa on Wednesday and then spending more time with family Thanksgiving Day today. 

On Tuesday, day 5 after the retrieval, I received a phone call letting me know that of our 4 embabies, 2 were looking good and 2 were progressing more slowly than what they’d like. On Wednesday just before 5pm, I received another call that 2 of the embabies had reached the stage where they could be biopsied and frozen. When embryos reach this stage they are called blastocysts. Blastocysts are made up of at least 100 cells and is 0.1-0.2 mm in diameter. The other two embryos they were keeping an eye on had begun to regress. The rate of success for an embryo reaching blastocysts widely varies from 25-60%. 2 out of 4 is pretty good. I thought it would be 2-3 weeks before we received the DNA results, but I was happily surprised when I was told that she was hoping to hear back from the lab by next Friday December 2nd. 

Just wanted to give a quick update. It is 12:03 am as I write this, which means today is my 33rd birthday! It would be the best present ever to receive good reports on our 2 little ones next week. 

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overwhelmed, in a good way — November 21, 2016

overwhelmed, in a good way

Support.

I can’t say enough how important it is. I have been blessed with friends, family, co-workers, Bible study leaders, my pastor and his wife, other ministers at our church, and near strangers who have offered support. And all of this happened in the last 24 hours.

I must have the best in-laws ever. Husband’s parents, siblings, and their spouses have all been amazing during this journey. His extended family has been pretty great too. Throughout the last few years I have received countless texts, messages on social media, phone calls, and hugs from many in his family. It has been so reassuring.

Rewind to yesterday. I am beyond excited for Husband’s sister and her husband who recently announced their pregnancy. Yesterday they had planned for a gender reveal. Now, I have never been to one of these before, so I was looking forward to it. My guess was a girl and husband’s was a boy. One of us was right and, of course, it was me. The smoke bomb was lit and pink smoke filled their backyard. Everyone was excited and we are looking forward to this sweet addition to our family.

But first, I had to work through some feelings. Don’t worry. I’ve already warned my sister in law this was coming. I got up and enjoyed a few cups of coffee. I lingered around the living room watching Dateline on demand and more time passed than I realized. As I was getting ready, I caught my reflection in the mirror. The four small scars across my waist from the incisions after the laparoscopic surgery in August jumped out at me as well as a few bruises around my belly button from the recent injections.

I told myself it was fine. That I would be fine. I drove the 45 minutes to their house, all the while contemplating this journey. I walked into the house and was quickly greeted by my family. I focused on my sweet nephew because smiling kiddos always help me feel better. My other sister in law has been a God-send, as she has faced and overcome her own struggle with infertility, while also coping with the devastating loss of her mother.

I feel like I may have been acting awkward or out of place, which is not especially out of the ordinary for me in a social setting. It was my sister in law who knew before I even did that although this is a happy day, it was also kind of sad for me. She pulled me aside, telling me there was alcohol in the kitchen and I followed her there. We were the only ones and she looked right at me and asked how I was doing. I think I tried to tell her I was fine, but mid-way through my explanation of telling her that I was okay, the tears came.

She asked if I needed a hug, but then said she was afraid a hug might make it worse so she informed me that we were going to take a shot. It has been years since I took a shot. She was right though…within a few minutes, I was relaxed and more comfortable about being there. I think I am afraid of myself at these things because I never know what to expect from my emotions. Also the fact that I injected an abhorrent amount of hormones into myself over the course of 18 days. May it was 19. I lost count. The rest of the day was good. I met up with a friend for some retail therapy and then out to dinner.

This morning I picked up breakfast for my Bible study group. When it came time for prayer requests, I teared up as I asked for prayers regarding my heart. I struggle with this very ugly feeling of bitterness. My current reality is infertility. And it sucks. I am resistant when people try to encourage me to keep looking forward to what will be, but I’m scared to be hopeful. I struggle to pray for peace because I’m terrified that God’s idea of peace is for me to accept infertility.

So many of the amazing ladies in Bible study came up to me at the end to offer kind words of support this morning. They let me know that they are praying for me, which is huge. While I am still getting to know many of them better, their support has been incredible. I held my cousin’s 6 day old daughter the entire church service. There is nothing better than to spend some quality time with a baby. The miracle of life is absolutely amazing. After the service, I was approached by others who offered their continued support and prayers. As I was getting ready to leave, my pastor’s wife approached me to ask how things were going. I was touched that she remembered a bit of my story I shared with her at an event in April. And not that it was just the general idea of infertility, but details I couldn’t even remember sharing with her.

This afternoon I called my friend and headed to her house to spend the afternoon and evening with them and their neighbors. These are our best friends and though we have been around each other lately, we’ve never really had the opportunity to catch up. I failed to mention much to her about this current IVF cycle and just sent her a quick text the morning of the retrieval. Life is busy, but it shouldn’t be so busy that I’m not even updating my closest friends.

I guess what it all comes down to is how grateful I am for my tribe. For all those around me who are standing by our side and supporting us in so many ways: emotionally and spiritually.

People tell me I’m strong, which is flattering, but I also feel like I’m lying to everyone. That I’m just fooling them all. There is nothing easy about this. I’ve heard the comment that others aren’t sure how I do this. I’m not really sure either.

But I do know that infertility is not the end of my story.

ivf cycle 3, retrieval — November 18, 2016

ivf cycle 3, retrieval

Husband arrived home about 10:45pm Wednesday night. He was in town for just 0ver 12 hours before having to go back to work. Thursday morning was pretty relaxing, as there was no rushing around to leave. This is the latest procedure time we have ever had. Other times we have been down to the surgery center, our appointment time had been much earlier in the morning.

We walked into building, registered, and waited just about 10 minutes before I was called back. Blood pressure and pulse was taken. I signed 87 consents. I changed into my hospital gown, paper hat/shower-cap, and paper booties over my socks. My IV was started and I was given medication to help settle my stomach for the upcoming anesthesia.

They brought back my mom and husband after I was all prepped and ready to go. Husband stayed for just a few minutes, gave me a quick kiss, and then had to leave to get back to his job site in Corpus. The anesthesiologist came in to go over a few things with me and ask more questions.

Dr. G was running a little late, but I always recognize his voice and I heard him as he walked in and greeted all the staff. He knocked on the door of the little room I was in with my mom, came in and greeted us quickly. He still had his bag with him, asked if we had any questions, told my mom they would take good care of me and then left to prep for the procedure.

The nurse came in to get me and my mom left to go out to the waiting room. I walked with the nurse to the OR and she took the blanket that was wrapped around my waist to keep my backside from being exposed. There were at least 8 people in the OR running around as I stood up on a stool, flashed everyone in the room, and then sat down on the OR table. Whatever.

I had two or three people talking around me at once and it was difficult to figure out who was talking to whom. Someone else with anesthesiology was talking to me near my head, while there were two others at my feet arranging my legs in the stirrups. Lovely. They placed three monitors on my chest, took off my glasses, and told me I would start to feel something. As soon as the meds started pumping through the IV I was fading out and the last thing I saw was a mask as they were about to place it over my nose and mouth.

From the time I left the little waiting area with the nurse until I was passed out on the table was about 3 minutes. Maybe even less. I’ve mentioned in many posts about timing being everything with IVF, but it seemed like they were in a hurry today. Normally I am awake long enough to see Dr. G enter the OR, but not today.

I woke up and soon after my mom was with me in recovery. I got dressed and Dr. G came to talk to us. They were able to get 4 eggs. He told me that I might be sore, as they really had to push on my left side. I did not take this too seriously, as I have not had any issues with the last 2 retrievals. I was wheeled to the parking lot and mom drove the 45 minute commute back to The Woodlands. We stopped at IHOP to eat. That has been our place to go since I was in college. We are keeping the tradition alive.

I probably pushed it too much yesterday. I had a little too much confidence in myself and I was worn out and in bed by 9pm, but up around 11. I made it to the restroom, but nearly fainted. It was so strange. I was having serious hot flashes, sweating, and feeling light-headed. This lasted for a few minutes. I made it back to bed and called Husband. I caught my reflection in the mirror and have never seen myself so pale.

The plan was to go in to work today. When I woke up this morning, I adjusted to going in for the second half of the day, but when they called with the fertilization report, I told the nurse about last night and she said it was a vasovagal attack (pretty word for fainting) and that I needed to take it easy today. I called in to work to let them know. Nurse said she would tell Dr. G and then call me back if he wanted me to come in for an exam. She said it was unlikely, but she also told me to contact the office if it happened again during or after office hours or during the weekend and they would put me in touch with the on-call doctor.

Also, I received a phone call this morning about 10:50 to let me know that all four eggs fertilized. They will monitor the embryos to see how many make it to day 5. We will know before Thanksgiving how many have been biopsied on the 5th day for genetic testing. After being biopsied for PGS testing, the embryos will be frozen until we receive the results from the lab, which takes 2-3 weeks. I will start my cycle in the next week or so and I am supposed to call on day 1 so that they can begin monitoring my uterine lining for transfer. As long as everything looks good, we will transfer the one frozen embaby we have from the last IVF cycle.

I’m going to laugh if they call next Tuesday or Wednesday and tell us that all 4 made it to day 5 for biopsy and then they all turn out to be healthy after PGS is complete. There is the possibility that after having 5 miscarriages, we could have 5 babies. Only time will tell…

trigger — November 16, 2016
inner conflict —

inner conflict

When I share about what has been going on this cycle I have been asked if I am excited. That is a loaded question. I could say yes, but more than anything I am anxious. Not a happy anxious, as in looking forward to something, but more of a scared anxious. I try so hard to guard myself from disappointment. While that might sound negative to some, I can tell you that I have been tempted to start looking online or at Pinterest for baby stuff. I have begun considering names again. That’s about as excited as I allow myself to get. Keep in mind those two things are still only what I have allowed myself to think about. I have not even talked out loud about this.

I have seen some really creative ways people have incorporated miscarriage, rainbow baby, or infertility in posts or pictures. The picture below came to mind last night. I was reluctant at first. I questioned whether I was putting my hope and faith into medicine rather than in the One who breathes life into us all. I continued to think about it more on the drive to work and the inner conflict I was experiencing in whether or not to post a picture because of how it might be interpreted.


Y’all I have met women who would rather have a cancer diagnosis than an infertility diagnosis. Let that sink in for a moment.

Infertility is a medical diagnosis.

You would not tell someone who had diabetes, cancer, heart problems, asthma, or a multiple of other medical issues to just pray about it. You would not tell them to just think positive or that their bodies will somehow just figure it out. You would want them to seek medical attention. This is a discussion that comes up often when I speak to other women about infertility. Yes, there are moral dilemmas with certain treatments, but that is not exclusive to infertility. While my faith is in God, I also know that He has given wisdom and intelligence to men and women to expand their research and knowledge so that people like me can lead happy and healthy lives.

Without an infertility diagnosis, I would not know about the multiple issues that I have including endometriosis, hypothyroid, and MTHFR. All of which can lead to issues later in life not even related to fertility.

While I am grateful that those issues have been discovered and can be dealt with, I am even more grateful for the increase in faith I have experienced. I am grateful for the relationships that have been made and that will continue to be made as I pursue an opportunity to begin a support group for other women.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: the best thing you can do, in my opinion, for the women in your life who are experiencing infertility is to love them. Listen to them. If they are not ready to talk, that’s okay. Silence is okay. Tears are okay. Be present.

If you are experiencing infertility yourself, give yourself compassion. Love yourself. Listen to yourself. If you are not ready to talk, that’s okay. Silence is okay. Tears are okay. Be present.

ivf cycle 3, day 20 —

ivf cycle 3, day 20

This cycle will never end.

Today is the 18th and final day of injections. Hallelujah.

I went in for my 10am appointment. I was called back fairly quickly and my blood was drawn, but they had me hang out in the conference room for a few minutes to wait for a specific exam room to open up. This room had an older machine, but it gives a better view. The nurse was telling me that because we are at such a crucial point, they wanted to make sure there was little to no doubt as to my progress (or my body’s progress…its not as if I really have any control over this).

I went across the parking lot to the hospital after my appointment to squeeze in baby snuggles with my cousin’s daughter who was born yesterday. I was at work around 11:15. Things went smoothly today, despite having to recommend residential treatment to a patient who has been unable to maintain sobriety from pot. I went back to read this paragraph again. It starts out with a sweet baby and ends with a teenager smoking weed. This is my life.

As soon as work ended today, I left to go to my church for a women’s ministry event. Had a great time visiting with some pretty amazing women and learning more about different ways to get involved with missions in my community.

So anyways…back to IVF…It was about 4:40pm this afternoon and I became nervous that I had not received a phone call from the doctor’s office. The office closes at 5pm and I wanted to make sure I was given instructions on the next step. I was told that the nurses were talking to the doctors and the surgery center to set everything up and that I would receive a phone call from a nurse in a few minutes. Sure enough, about 2 minutes passed  and my phone began to ring. I was informed that I would definitely be triggering tonight and that the retrieval had been scheduled for Thursday.

Before leaving the office after my appointment this morning, I requested the earliest procedure time so that Ross would be able to make his way back to his job site 3.5 hours away. The nurse told me that there are a number of procedures already scheduled for Thursday and that mine would not be until 12:45pm. The surgery center is about 45 minutes from our house without traffic. It has taken us up to 1.5 hours commute time during rush hour traffic in the past. We need to be there by 11:30am, which means we need to leave the house no later than 10:30am. Also, I cannot eat or drink anything after 12am tomorrow.

The Ovidrel trigger shots (there are 2) will need to be given at 1am Wednesday morning, as the trigger shot is administered 35.5-36 hours before the retrieval time. I went ahead and set an alarm to wake up at that time earlier this afternoon, but seeing as how it is 11:21pm here in Texas as I type, I will likely stay up, though, of course, I am more tired tonight than I have been in about a week. I think part of that is knowing that it is finally time to trigger and the wait is almost over. There has been so much build up to this moment.

 

 

 

ivf cycle 3, day 19 — November 15, 2016

ivf cycle 3, day 19

And…………….One more day of stimulation shots. Went in for ultrasound and blood work this morning and was notified this afternoon that the doctor wants me to stim another night and come back tomorrow for another scan. When I said yesterday that this cycle seems to be going longer than the previous 2, I didn’t mean for it to go longer. It is looking like Thursday will be retrieval day. Taking a deep breath now…

After the doctor appointment, I went to work. I was there a few hours before going back to the hospital to visit my cousin who had a scheduled c-section this morning. I went back to work and about 10 minutes after getting to the office, I received a phone call from the nurse telling me that I would need to stim one more day. I have just 2 vials of Menopur at the house and take a total of 7 each night. They had enough at the office to get me thru tonight and I will go back tomorrow. It is likely that I will trigger tomorrow night, but not definite.

Again, timing is everything.

Went back to work to finish the afternoon group that I was scheduled to lead. Left work about 5:45pm and went to my monthly support group meeting for infertility that lasted 6-7pm. I have spoken to the leader of the support group, who is a marriage and family therapist and specializes in infertility and 3rd party reproduction. There has not been a peer led support group in my area in over a year and I have expressed interest in starting it up again. I sent an email a few weeks ago to Resolve.org and the responded with a video that I would need to watch about what to expect about leading the group. Tonight, at the end of group, I asked those present if they would be interested in attending another group each month. The response was overwhelming, so I plan to take an hour to watch the video and find out the next steps.

I’m exhausted today. More that I have been in the last week or so. I don’t know if it is the hormones again or if it is the stress related to IVF. I am a part of an online support group, which has also been pretty neat. Tonight they asked for prayer requests and then you would be responsible for praying for the person in the thread above you who shared a request. It is great to get together with the support group here locally, as some of them I have known for just over a year now. Then to be able to check Facebook after leaving the group to find prayer requests opened up to the group is so encouraging.

I thought this update would be different today. I thought I would be typing about the trigger shot I had taken and about the upcoming plans for retrieval day. That is not the case tonight. I’m not overly upset about it. Just tired. Tired of all of this. Yet, I know it will be worth it in the end. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

ivf cycle 3, day 18 — November 14, 2016

ivf cycle 3, day 18

I arrived on time (chronically late) to my doctors appointment on Friday at 10:45am. There were about 12 other women ahead of me. Apparently, Fridays are usually very busy. I have been spoiled this cycle because I have not had to wait long at all when I have gone in for my appointments.

Today is the 16th day of shots, for a total of 47 injections so far. This cycle seems longer than other cycles. Dr. G told me that he was a little nervous on Monday when he scanned me because I had been on a pretty significant dose of medication for a full week at that point and he was not seeing much progress. A nurse scanned me Wednesday and then Dr. G scanned on Friday. He was please with the progress, but wants to see me again tomorrow (Monday) morning for another scan. On Friday he thought it was likely that we would trigger Monday night and then the retrieval will be Wednesday morning. The “trigger” is 2 shots of Ovidrel that I will take at an exact time they tell me. This tells my ovaries that it is time to ovulate and release the eggs that have been growing in the follicles.

There are currently 5 follicles they are keeping their eye on, but likely only 4 will be ready for retrieval. There are 4 in my left ovary measuring 15.71, 12.45, 10.38, and 10.40mm. There is one follicle in the right (yes, they finally found my right ovary), but it is just measuring 8.45mm. This was on Friday and the follicles grow about 1mm per day. Again, they want the follicles to measure between 18-21mm.

I remember sitting down with Dr. G back in July and expressing my concern with the possible dilemma of having the endometriosis being removed and then all of a sudden having an increase in eggs. Y’all, I’ve heard there are actually people out there that have up to 30 follicles growing eggs. Dr. G said we would likely not run into that problem, but if we did, he would only fertilize the healthiest eggs. Reminder: 1st cycle they retrieved 6 eggs, but only 1 ended up being viable and 2nd cycle they retrieved 4, but only two were viable. One embaby was transferred September 2015, but I had a miscarriage at the end of October. The 2nd embaby is still frozen, but will be transferred in December, if all goes well.

Also, if you read my previous post, you know that I forgot to do the injections one night. The nurse was able to get back to me that same morning and let me know that all is good. Dr. G teased me about it Friday morning. I was so embarrassed, but he said it would be fine. Whew! They were glad I took them as soon as I woke up and remembered, rather than later.

The weekend has been nice and relaxing. Celebrated a friend’s birthday Friday night. Waited around the house Saturday morning for Fed Ex to deliver medications and after that went out to get some errands done. Church this morning and then went to look at some tile for our living room this afternoon with my mom. Ready for the upcoming work week. Makes it a bit easier when I know that I will be working just 4 days rather than 5. I’ll update again after the doctor appointment tomorrow.

 

 

 

ivf cycle 3, day 15 — November 10, 2016

ivf cycle 3, day 15

Time has been flying by and I forgot to update on Monday. It’s already Thursday! 

I was at the doctor’s office on Monday morning and was able to meet with Dr. G. He was able to measure about 3 follicles in my left ovary, but was unable to definitively see my right ovary. He had a good idea of where it was, but there were other internal organs blocking the view. The three follicles were measuring between 8-10mm. 

I went back on Wednesday and was scanned by a nurse. She was able to see my right ovary right away. Things rearranged a bit in the last few days. She measured 1 follicle in my right ovary and 4 in my left ovary. The follicle in my right is a little behind, measuring 8mm. The follicles in my left ovary were all measuring between 9-11mm. They like for them to be measuring 18-21mm before retrieval. I will continue all medications and have another appointment Friday morning. 

Confession time. I forgot my injections last night. I can’t believe I did that, but it happened. I got home from work, ate dinner, watched some tv, and had an awesome 45 minute phone call with the husband. I actually made it to bed before midnight last night. If you know me, you know my sleep hygiene is not the best and I tend to stay up much later. It caught up to me yesterday. I took all my oral meds and fell asleep. I remembered as soon as I woke up this morning, just after 7am. I went ahead and did the injections right away and I left a voicemail for the nurse and sent a message thru the patient portal. I still can’t believe it even happened. 

Other than that, things have been going smoothly. Work has been good this week and my mood has greatly improved since the beginning of last week. I was in a funk. Hormones. Too many hormones. At least that’s the story I’m going with. 

I have another appointment Friday morning, which will make a total of 5 appointments in the last 10 days. I had to call the specialty pharmacy in Florida for a partial refill on the medications so that I have enough to get thru the weekend. I also called the other pharmacy in Massachusetts to fill the prescription for the two trigger shots. I’ll know more after the appointment tomorrow morning, but it is looking like the trigger shot will be Sunday or Monday night and the retrieval either Tuesday or Wednesday next week. The timing of the trigger shot is very precise because they schedule your retrieval 35.5 hours to 36 hours gather triggering. Timing is everything. 

ivf cycle 3, day 9 — November 5, 2016

ivf cycle 3, day 9

I had my third appointment at the doctor today. All the consents were signed on my part. Husband had consents signed, notarized, scanned, and emailed to the doctors office, but there is one left we will have to take care of tomorrow and then I will take it in on Monday when I am at the office for yet another doctor appointment. 

I didn’t go in to work on Tuesday. It was the first time in almost the 5 years since beginning this journey when I took a day off work without anything significant happening. I just could not get out of bed. I hadn’t received bad news. I hadn’t had a miscarriage. I’d had no procedure.

I just wasn’t up to it. 

My doctor has been out of town on business, so the nurses have been taking great care of me the last week and a half. Nicole, Megan, Teresa, Sharon, and Rachel are amazing women. I teared up at the appointment on Wednesday and was searching for validation with the crazy feelings I’ve experienced the last few weeks. Teresa was amazing and simply told me that I had been through a lot. That was all I needed. She didn’t tell me it would be okay. She didn’t attempt to brush off my tears. She grabbed a tissue, walked around the nurses’ desk, and hugged me. 

I’m not entirely sure if she was prepared for my full-on hug. Maybe she meant for it to be a reassuring pat on the shoulder, but in that moment I needed a hug, so I went for it. 

After that appointment I went to work. Y’all, I work with some amazing people. They checked in with me, asked how I was doing, but when I teared up again, they backed off. It’s also nice that I work with other counselors and therapists. 

Work has been good the last few days. Chipping away and the ever increasing mound of paperwork while getting the opportunity to train new hires and student interns. I love my job. Even on the crazy days. 

I spent about an hour on Thursday trying to refill a prescription for my main stimulation med, Menopur. I also contacted my sister in law who is a pharamacist to ask if she could help me out with some pharmacy math. With her help, I was able to determine that I would not need a refill for a different injection until after the weekend. It’s good to know people. 

So, back to today’s appointment: I arrived on time. Almost. Signed the consents and they pulled me back for the lab work soon after. I entered the exam room and waited just a few minutes until a nurse came in for the ultrasound. She had a hard time finding my right ovary, which is odd because that is normally the easier of the two to find. She had no problem at all finding my left ovary, which is typically more difficult to locate. The same thing happened on Wednesday, but it was still early enough in the cycle that it wasn’t a big deal. However, today it was just a little odd. Another nurse entered the exam room and was able to find what she was pretty sure was my ovary. Great. Just over a year ago when we were doing our second round, they couldn’t find the left ovary. Now the right. 

Pictures were taken and everything was wrapped up. I went to work for the rest of the day. I received a call and voicemail from one of the nurses, along with a text message to check my patient portal. Dr. G reviewed the labs and ultrasound results and wants me to go from 6 vials of Menopur to 7 vials each night. I have another appointment scheduled for Monday at 10am for more lab work and an ultrasound. Dr. G should be in the office. 

Husband was able to get off work early and made the almost 4 hour drive back home and actually beat me to the house. While I had a fun date night in mind, we ended up ordering take-out and watching a Dateline re-run. 9 years of marriage. That’s what it’s all about.  🙂 

The neatest thing happened though. While shifting through a variety of infertility bills and insurance claims that had arrived in the mail, husband tosses a package my way and says: This came for you. 

I had no idea what “this” was. I opened the envelope and found a book inside. There was no explanation. I thought my best friend sent it, but, after texting her, she completely denied having anything to do with it. She shared that she loved that someone sent it to me. The book is called “In Due Time” and had a handwritten message from the author with my name in the address. I did a little investigating and found the author on Facebook and noticed that the author and I have just one friend in common. My very thoughtful cousin. I sent her a text to verify and thank her. I also messaged the author and quickly received a response as well as an invite to an online support group. 

It’s amazing how blessed I feel tonight.