Posts Tagged ‘IVF’

The Way to a Baby

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The way to a baby for me (according to my RE) is. . .

(drumroll please)

Through donor eggs!

Yep, we had our WTF appointment today and the doctor said nothing that I hadn’t figured out on my own already.

It turns out the follicles during the IVF cycle were truly empty and that her initial prediction was that I would get four eggs retrieved. Of course, I got two. She also said that my two retrieved eggs didn’t make it to the cleavage stage which indicates an egg quality issue.  Had the eggs made it past this stage and made it to transfer, she would likely recommend a second try at this with my own eggs.

She made it clear that she would indeed do a second IVF, if this is what I wanted, but predicted a similar outcome.  Taking into account my years of trying, my two losses, and this failed IVF, the egg quality just isn’t there.

I’m a little confused about my husband’s sperm issues with all of this.  Initially, the doctor felt that my 4 IUI failures were due to a lack of fertilization, but now she thinks egg quality issues were coming to play even back then.  So chances are, I’ve had poor egg quality for years now.  The higher FSH that I have now is only compounding the problem, I think.  I remember having my FSH tested over a year and a half ago and it was only 6.5 which was great, but I still had problems conceiving even then.  It just goes to show you that a good FSH does not mean good egg quality, no matter what your age.

I have to face reality. I may only be 37 (which is still a good age for a “normal” woman to have a baby), but my body thinks it is older.  Premature aging.  It’s supposed to be harder for a woman my age to get pregnant, but not this hard.

Ask any woman who wants a child. Her dream is to bear a biological child. I am no different. Not being able to bear a biological child means grieving.

But I have to be honest with myself. I’ve been grieving this loss for a very long time now. I didn’t start grieving when I failed this IVF cycle, I didn’t start when I miscarried, and I didn’t start when the IUIs didn’t work. It’s been a continuous process for years now, I guess.

Maybe that’s why I didn’t cry when she recommended donor eggs. If she had recommended this a month ago, I would have fallen apart. Maybe I’m finally at the last stage of grief–acceptance.

Like I said before, I think I’m done blaming myself. As far as I know, my egg quality could have been gone in my 20’s. I didn’t choose it. I didn’t ask for it to happen and it’s not my fault. I don’t know why it happened to me, but I know I can’t change it.  I used to be a happy person; maybe I can find my way back to it. I’ve got a lot going for me in my life and a lot to be thankful for.

I’m going to beat infertility, one way or another. My desire to be a mother hasn’t wavered. I choose to believe that God put that desire in me and that he will fulfill it somehow. It may not be in the way I choose, but I believe that it will happen.

I don’t intend to do another IVF cycle with my own eggs, but I will continue to try to conceive naturally. I did ask the RE about DHEA and she said that in some cases it has helped women and it some cases it has not. It certainly won’t hurt to try. Her recommendation is 50 mg in the morning. I will also go back to acupuncture and try changing my diet.

As for donor eggs, it is an option that we are strongly considering in the coming months. I’m not saying that it is a definite, but I’m no longer completely against it and my husband has warmed up to the idea as well. There’s still a major hurdle–money. In case you are wondering, we don’t have any. Even if we still had insurance coverage, my policy does not cover donor eggs.

So there you have it. My day. Now it’s time to clean up my house for the holidays!

 

 

 

 

 

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Sorry–I Can’t Like Your Status and I Don’t Want a Number

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Maybe it’s all over your Facebook newsfeed (or has been at one time):

“Like my status and I’ll give you a number!”

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, in this scenario one of your Facebook friends lists a predetermined number of random facts about his or her self on his wall such as:

“I met my fiancé on a blind date and we knew it was love at first sight even though I was already engaged.”

“I don’t like for my socks to match and I try to hide it from the world.”

“I like barbecue sauce on my French fries; please don’t judge me.”

“I like to eat toothpaste.”

You get the idea. Then you “like” his/her status and he/she assigns you a number, say 9, and you post 9 random facts about yourself. From there, others like your status and you assign them a number and the process repeats itself. All over Facebook.

I am actually very fortunate because no one in my newsfeed  has posted excessive facts about their babies, children, or reproductive abilities. For this I am grateful.

I have yet to participate in this game. I can’t help but wonder which random facts I would post about myself if I did join in the fun.

Maybe, the run-of-the-mill: “I absolutely hate waking up early” or “My favorite restaurant is Cheesecake Factory–I really like the Chicken Marsela”?

No.

Here are mine:

“It took my husband and I two and a half years to conceive our first child. The pregnancy lasted seven and a half weeks.”

“God works in mysterious ways. After our first miscarriage, we conceived just five months later with our rainbow baby. That pregnancy lasted about two weeks though the feeling that I lost who I am remains to this day.”

“No, my allergies don’t make my eyes water all the time like I say they do. At any given time of the day, I fight back tears when I think of how my dreams may never come true.”

“I am completely emotionally spent. Just having a simple conversation with any one of you takes a considerable amount of energy on my part. Bear with me.”

“I don’t go to church anymore. The weekly baby dedications make me cry. Every. Single. Time.”

“Through the years of infertility and loss, I have cut a lot of people out of my life. Chances are, you’re one of them. I’m sorry. I miss you and who we were together.”

Something tells me that these random facts about me might put a damper on someone’s game. I think the point is to be random and light. I don’t want anyone to be uncomfortable, so you can see why I’m not playing.

In other news, our WTF appointment with our RE isn’t until next Tuesday. Next, not this coming Tuesday. I am both curious and frightened to hear what she will have to say about what went wrong during our IVF.

What was so damning wasn’t that our two retrieved embryos didn’t make it. It was the fact that we only retrieved two eggs out of the eight that were supposed to be there. I have no idea if they were truly empty or if the eggs were too difficult to get out or what. Hell, for all I know they didn’t even try. All I know is that I was in and out of there in a hurry and didn’t feel very different physically after I left.

I’m not blaming our RE. I like her a lot (though she does seem to be rushed) and her staff is compassionate and very well-organized . Chances are, it is just me and my eggs. I am trying my hardest to prepare myself for the donor egg talk that could be coming.

I really don’t know if there is much that can be done about egg quality. Yes, I’ve heard about DHEA but never asked the doctor about it and she didn’t recommend it. There is something to be said about acupuncture helping egg quality as well. I like acupuncture.

Still, part of me keeps going back to where I had my procedure done. The office is a quality facility and when I originally selected it, it was because the success rates for my age bracket were decent, about 43%. However, after I had all my prescreening testing done, the latest success rates for my age bracket came out and they were down considerably to about 29% (actually they were down for all age groups, even those under 35). I remember crying on the phone that day to my husband telling him that we made a mistake and should back out right then and there and go someplace else. Now, I wish we would have.

From what I understand, RE fees are based on their success rates. We paid a huge sum of money (this clinic charges considerably higher than others) for services that  yielded a marked decrease in success for its patients. Why didn’t I do something about this red flag that was waving in front of me? I ignored that little nagging voice and it may have cost me a child.

If there is any point in doing any IVFs in the future and if I am financially able to do so and choose to, I may go elsewhere. There is a new clinic that has branched off from another one that boosts a success rate of about 67% for ages 36-40. I don’t know if these statistics are too good to be true or misleading, but it sure beats a 29% success rate. Yes, I’d have to travel to another city and meet another team of doctors and go through all of this again, but at least that option is out there. Not really an option, just an idea at this point.

That’s it for now. Now, go out and like some FB statuses!

 

 

 

 

 

Over

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Today would have been transfer day.  Our two retrieved eggs were mature and fertilized, but didn’t make it to day 2  Here’s how everything went down:

  • We started out with 5 follicles
  • 5 follicles grew to 6 within one day
  • 6 follicles grew for a long time and we ended up with two more the last two days, making it a grand total of 8
  • After 13 days of stims, we trigger
  • Retrieval takes place Tuesday where I am told that they retrieved 2 eggs (even under anesthesia, I know that this is not good)
  • The next day I am told that the 2 eggs were mature and fertilized (hope begins to spring again)
  • The day after (which was yesterday, Thursday, I was told that both embryos had arrested)

I can honestly say that I was surprised and shocked that I had only two eggs retrieved and that the two embroys (if they even made it to that stage) died.

I’m not stupid.  Statistically, even before this whole process started, I knew the odds were against me, but I had faith. Real faith. Probably more than I had in my entire life for anything. I had courage. I was positive.  It was 100% authentic. I felt like it was a gift from God–that he had brought me to this and was all over everything, even months in advance. But, I’ll save all of that for a future post which will come soon, I assure you.

I have to take God out of the equation and look at my reality.  I’m 37, (almost 38 in less than two months) and my eggs are just plain bad. How do I know this? The only two times that I achieved pregnancy (which I have no idea how they happened in the first place given my husband’s male factor issues) they have resulted in chromosomal losses. Where do chromosomal losses come from? The woman’s egg!

Plus, there is the issue of my FSH of 12.8 which basically means a lower number of eggs which translates to a low number of bad eggs. Research says that this is not necessarily true, but I guess it is true for me.

Then take the issue of this IVF.  It took forever for my follicles to even grow and I only got 8 (which I could have lived with) and this was from a very high dose of medication. But–it took me 13 days to even get there.  Then, we get to retrieval and they are able to only extract two eggs. The nurse said that she thought the other follicles were probably empty and maybe they were, but I don’t think she’s correct based on everything I’ve read about empty follicle syndrome. Chances are they couldn’t get to these eggs because they were probably misshapen or something equally bad.  The two that were retrieved arrested, of course, because they were crap.

I just don’t have any good eggs and I have to learn to live with that.

Ready, Set, Retrieve

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When I ordered my IVF meds and discovered six 900 iu cartridges of Follistim in the box, I thought there was no way I’d ever use all of that medicine. Well, not only have I used all of it, I had to get extra!  I’m proud to say that the last dose has been taken.

It’s trigger shot time!

I ended up stimming 13 days on the Antagonist protocol and had 8 ultrasounds within that period. I was fortunate that I had my husband with me for most of these visits. Ultrasounds have always made me nervous, but towards the end, when I was pretty sure I’d get to retrieval, most of my nerves subsided somewhat.

During this past week, I’ve mostly kept my no Google rule.  I admit that I did cheat a bit after one of doctor visits, but none since then. I had one breakdown at the beginning of stimming when I thought my follicles wouldn’t grow, but they have. Since then, I’ve been doing pretty well.

One thing I’ve learned that makes this process much more bearable is to trust my doctor and not ask questions whose answers will lead me to obsess. For example, I never got my progesterone or estradiol levels. I’m sure I would have been given them if I had asked, but I didn’t want to know because this would lead to me obsessing over them and researching them for hours on end, no matter what they were.  If there was a problem with them, I figured my doctor would tell me. So, no obsessing over hormone levels and to tell you the truth, I don’t miss the obsessing one bit.

Speaking of my doctor, she really is kind. The first time I met her, I knew there was just something about her, something special that made me feel comfortable.  Then I realized what that special thing was: she has compassion in her eyes. I can’t tell you how much I have needed this. In the past, I’ve always thought that I was just kind of on my own. I didn’t expect a doctor, particularly one who deals with these issues, to show that he or she cared about me. Now I realize that I deserve to have a RE who is empathetic.

And I deserve to be a mother!

I think this whole process has been about me letting go of fear. I was so afraid of this process, even afraid of making that first telephone call, but somehow I managed. I was also afraid to go to this particular doctor. Why? Because I let myself become afraid after reading some negative reviews on a doctor rating website which I have found to be far from the truth.

It’s funny, people tell me that I’m strong, that I seem to have a handle on things.  But the truth is, I’ve always been very much afraid.  But now, I’m learning to look my fear in the eye. I really think the thing I have feared the most is fear itself.

Is this to say I have no fear? No. I’m just learning to control it before it paralyzes me. There is one thing I have learned for sure: worry and fear are absolutely useless.

My retrieval is set for Tuesday. If you are a praying person, I’d appreciate prayers that everything goes well.  If you want to pray specifically, please pray for chromosomally normal embryos that implant successfully into my uterus.

Once again, I’ll keep everyone posted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knee-Deep in IVF Land

Obligatory IVF meds pic

Obligatory IVF meds pic

It’s CD 6! My medicine (see lovely pic above) arrived last Friday and I had my first baseline ultrasound and stim injection on Tuesday. Tuesday is also the day my period arrived–literally the minute I changed into the sheet to go get in the stirrups. Life is funny that way. I felt the need to warn the nurse so I told her, “My period just started” but what I really meant was “My period started a minute ago while I was on the toilet so I don’t know if it’s all going to come gushing out or just stay in there , so be warned.”

So technically it is CD 4 period-wise (not that you necessarily need to know that) and CD 6 IVF-wise.  This makes obsessive Googling difficult.  But that’s ok, because I have banned myself from Googling anything related to this procedure from here on out. Yes, the ban has been in place long before now and I’ve broken it many, many times, but this time I really mean it–really.

My strategy for this whole journey is a new one: stay positive.  Not only for the cycle, but for all areas in my life as well:

Complaining? Not going to do it anymore!

Gossiping?  No.

Cursing/Swearing (I only did this once this morning) Nope.

Speaking/Thinking negatively of myself or others: Not for me.

Fussing at the dogs: Never!

Yep, creating a culture of positivity.  That’s me.

I’ve also done my best to stay physically and mentally relaxed by going to acupuncture sessions.  I wasn’t going to do it, but I had been thinking about it for some time and at the last minute I decided to go for it and it is a decision I am happy I made. Two words come to mind when I think about acupuncture: simply heavenly. So heavenly that I actually feel like I shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a car to drive home. My body used to always be in that “fight or flight mode” and I have to say that for the most part now, that is not the case.

But it’s a little weird. For some of the treatments, you lie down face-down since some of the needles go into your lower, lower back.  This means you have to loosen your belt, pull down your pants a few inches (or have the acupuncturist do it for you which is even more awkward) and reveal your pasty pale behind.  Then, you try to have a conversation facedown with the acupuncturist but all you can think about is how your butt is the focal point in the room. At least you remembered not to wear a thong. This time.

But even this bit of embarrassment is a small price to pay for euphoria.

Of course, a feel-good body results in a feel-good mind. This IVF is always on my mind, but not in a paralyzing way. I’m obsessing, but not the way I could be (like every millisecond ) and this is a big step for me.

I go back to the RE on Sunday morning. The RE started me out on a pretty strong dose of Follistim, 225 iu twice a day, which has now been changed to 225 iu in the morning and 300 in the evening, along with a small hcg shot each day. The RE, who is very sweet, said not to expect much at my ultrasound today, but she did tell me that I have a couple of follicles that have started. I’m relieved because I feared that I would have no response at all. Why this fear? Because I consulted Dr. Google who informed me that this happens to people. Do you see why Dr. Google has been banned?

That’s it for now. I’ll keep everyone posted with more updates, hopefully good ones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then Came the Birth Control Pill

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It’s official! In one month, I will be reunited with my old friend, the follicle-stimulating hormone, aka the fertility drug.

It’s been well over a year since I have taken any of these and I hope I’m not jinxing myself by saying this, but I don’t remember ever having any of the harsh emotional side effects that you are supposed to have with them. Granted, I was never on a high dosage, and maybe I was already emotionally unhinged before I started them, so my emotions balanced themselves out.  Who knows?

However, I have met a foe, yes foe, that I believe puts the supposed emotional sapping power of FSH to shame. The birth control pill.

Like some of you, my new RE (new RE, I just love saying that) put me on birth control before the IVF. From what I understand, many IVF clinics like to schedule all the IVFs within a given time period. To do this, everyone’s cycles have to be somewhat in sync, hence the reason for the pills.

I have never taken a birth control pill in my life.

I started them about two weeks ago and didn’t have any major, preconceived notions of what they would be like. My main concern was remembering to take them (and yes, I already forgot to take one after a particularly rough night) and secretly fearing that I would gain weight, which I heard happens.

I wasn’t prepared for the all-out PMS-like rage that made me want to knock someone to the ground and repeatedly punch her in the face. At first, I thought my emotions weren’t so bad, but then my wonderful husband informed me of my extreme moods when I asked him if I seemed “different” lately. Of course, his remark sent me into a fit of angry tears.

Maybe I’m reacting this way because I’ve never had this medicine in my life and my body doesn’t know what to do with these hormones. Or, maybe it’s because I am suffering from major sinus/allergy issues along with some type of stomach virus that I can’t seem to get rid of. Whatever it is, I feel bad. Very bad. Physically and emotionally.

On Friday, my emotions took on a brand new life in the form of panic attacks and anxiety, very similar to what I experienced over the summer. I left two embarrassing messages with my RE and regular doctor’s offices where I practically hyperventilated. Now that I look back on it, I’m not sure why I called either one of them. I can’t stop taking the birth control pill and the RE has nothing to do with the antidepressants I take. The regular doctor knows I’ve been trying to get pregnant and will wonder why I’m on bcp in the first place. I guess I thought she could give me a higher dosage of the antidepressants.  I really don’t know what I’m going to say to them when they call me back.

The weird thing is that I feel fine now. Just super tired. I’m no longer pissed off and I don’t think the world is going to end.  Believe it or not, before I started taking the pills, I’ve actually made it a point to be a more positive person. I’ve tried to visualize a positive outcome for the IVF and have constantly reminded myself that my past will not dictate my future.

Now, I feel like I am regressing.

In other news, I’ve been so busy at work, I’m way behind in reading your posts and am very much out of the loop. So, if you’ve gotten good news, had your baby, adopted a baby or had something great happen to you, I offer my congratulations.

So that’s a very brief update of where I am. Like always, I want to write more but at the end of the day, I just pass out.  Weirdly, I just feel pregnant. I’m getting ready for the real thing.

How’s that for positive thinking?

A Beautiful Uterus and Time to Obsess

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I’m a worrier–as you know from my last post. My worrying is by nature and by the circumstances of the last several months.

One of my most recent worries has been about the state of my uterus. It carried one baby for 7 weeks and carried something that should have been a baby for about 6.

Then, there were the D & C’s.

Two within 5 months.

So, I’ve spent the last couple of months imagining the worst–scarring, adhesions, and other bad things.

But that’s not the case, because my new RE performed a saline sonogram and called my uterus beautiful!

Cue the great, big sigh of relief!

After much consideration, and if all testing comes back normal, we will proceed with an October/November IVF. This is still months away and I am both excited and nervous. I have months to obsess and worry, and true to my character, I am already doing so.

Particularly with my ovarian reserve. In April of 2012, the level was 6.5. A little over a year later it is a whooping 12.8!  How could it rise so quickly?  Did I worry all my eggs out of me? I know that fertility starts to drop off in your mid-to-late 30’s but this is ridiculous! I almost feel like it has to be a clinical error. 12.8 isn’t catastrophic; it’s borderline. Still it concerns me. But, there is good news. . .

My antral follicle count was 14 which the nurse and IVF coordinator thought was excellent, especially for someone my age.  It’s one point from ideal, but the nurse said that there are a lot of 20-somethings who don’t even have a level like that.  When I brought up the high FSH, she tried to reassure me that the good antral follicle count was what mattered most.  I just hope she’s right because this is pretty much a one-shot deal for me.

Plus, I’m wearing myself out from googling the hell out of 12.8 FSH level.

I want to spend these next several weeks in peace; visualizing the best outcome. I’m just afraid that my negative thinking will start to creep in. I want this to work. I need this to work. I really feel like my mental state can affect the outcome.

When I look back over the last couple of months, I think about my husband, the doctors, my family. Even when things were going wrong, they all stayed so positive. I’m the one who fell apart and couldn’t pick myself back up. Even when we knew that pregnancy number two was a bust, my husband, who I know was suffering as well, kept saying to me, “Don’t worry; we’ll have our baby.” He still says it. Even the ob-gyn, who knew I had been trying for years and witnessed my losses said, “A bad egg came up this time, but it’s just a matter of time before a good one comes up.”

People like this amaze me. They’ve kept me holding on even when my world was falling apart. How do they do it? How can I be like that? Is it even possible?