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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Our Anniversary

Today is our 3rd Wedding Anniversary. 3 years ago, neither one of has had any idea the crazy roller-coaster ride we would soon embark upon. We had talked about starting a family for years and I guess like most couples, we assumed it would come easy. Though this time has been trying for us both, I'm actually thankful for it, as crazy as that may sound. J and I have shared so much and been through so much together. It has really brought us closer than ever before. We appreciate each other more and we definitely appreciate life more. And now, seeing his excitement and joy through this journey, It makes me love him so much more. I cannot wait to see him as a father and I know he'll be the best one there is! Most importantly, this journey has brought us closer to God and to our faith which I think is something we both desperately needed. Happy Anniversary J! I cannot wait for our belated anniversary gift to each other!

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Yesterday, we transferred 2 perfect embryos. We even got our first baby picture! J put it on the refrigerator. He is so proud already. J and I were able to watch on the ultra-sound monitor as the embryos were transferred into my uterus. It was amazing. I came home and was ordered to 24 hours bed rest. I also am supposed to take it easy and stay off my feet for the next 3-4 days. Last night, J rubbed and kissed my belly goodnight. The next 2 weeks will be the longest of my life! Tomorrow, I will call to schedule my beta (pregnancy blood test) for 2 weeks from now. I cannot wait to hear the good news!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Embryo Update

The nurse called today with an update. Most of our babies are now 8-celled embryos! We still have 17 growing. However, 9 of them are looking very good, 2 more are pretty good and the remaining 6 are still viable but developing more slowly. She said these are excellent results. My transfer will definitely be on Saturday and she will call tomorrow to schedule that appointment.

I am still feeling VERY bloated and tight in the abdomen. The nurse suggested an anti-hystamine called, "Chlor-Trameton." I have not noticed a difference yet. She also said that it is completely normal. So, as long as I know that, I can deal with it.

I guess my post will be Saturday after our transfer procedure. I am excited about this procedure. I will be fully awake and J and I will be able to see everything on the ultra-sound monitor. How neat?!?!?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fertilization Results

The nurse just called and let me preface this by saying that I am in complete shock... Out of 18 retrieved eggs, 17 fertilized! I guess J's little guys weren't as lazy as we thought! Now, all 17 may not continue to grow. The embryologist will observe them closely and decide on the best, most advanced embryos to transfer, depending on how many we decide to put back. Any surplus embryos that are not transferred, will be frozen for later use. There only 3 states in the U.S. with a law mandating that unused embryos from IVF must be frozen and cannot be discarded. Our state is one of them, thankfully. The nurse said she will call me back in 2 days with further progress.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Egg Retrieval Day

This morning was my egg retrieval. J collected his sample at home and then we got right in the car and headed for the IVF Lab at our Fertility Clinic. Our clinic is roughly 45 minutes away and we had to get J's specimen there within an hour so we were trying to beat the traffic. When we arrived, they asked some questions, we signed some papers, I got changed into my gown and they started the IV drip. About 10 minutes later, I walked into the OR and they had me lay on the table. They asked me if I wanted another blanket because I was cold. I said, "yes," and by the time they were covering me with it, I was out! I woke up what seemed to be about 5 minutes later. In reality, it was about 30. I started to come to my senses and they told me the news.... THEY GOT 18 EGGS! That's right...18 eggs and they all looked great, "grade A," Dr. D said. That was double what we expected!
The nurse administered my first Progesterone-in-Oil (PIO) injection and showed J how to do it since he will be administering them daily from now on. As far as pain, I experienced a great deal of cramping and some spotting as well but that was to be expected. They will call me tomorrow to let me know how many eggs have fertilized! My embryo transfer is scheduled for Saturday.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cycle Day 12-Egg Retrieval Scheduled!

This morning's appointment went great! I have 7-8 dominant follicles ranging in size from 17x17mm to 20x20mm. My lining was over 9 mm which is great. Dr. D and the nurse both said everything looks great! So, I was instructed to take my Ovidrel (hCG trigger shot) tonight at exactly 9:30pm. My egg retrieval will be Monday morning at 9:30am. I have to arrive at 8:00am. They will use IV sedatives and pain killers to put me under what they call, "conscious sedation." Using an trans-vaginal, ultra-sound guided needle, they will go into my ovaries and aspirate all the follicles. That same morning, J will "collect" a "specimen," in which they will wash to find the best little swimmers. They will then perform the ICSI procedure (Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection) in which they will inject a single sperm into a single egg. They will do this with however many good sperm they are able to locate. I will then go home and begin a plethora of new medications as listed below. Thankfully only 1 of them is an injection. However, it is an intra-muscular injection which has to be given in the buttocks. I am least excited about this! The following day they will call us to let us know how many eggs fertilized and continue to grow. The embryo transfer will most likely be 5 days later.

Tetracycline (Antibiotic)- 4x daily
Medrol (Prednisone)- 2x daily for 4 days
Baby Asprin- 1x daily
Estrodial (Estrogen Supplement)- 2x daily for 14 days
Progesterone in Oil (Injection)- 1x daily through 6 weeks of pregnancy

I have a feeling in my stomach that I don't know how to describe. It's sort of like butterflies but not really. It's excitement and utter joy mixed with nervousness and anxiety. We've been trying to conceive for over 2 years now, 1 year of which was done with fertility treatments. This IVF has been a long time coming now. So, why does it feel like this is all happening so fast? It's simply overwhelming! I cannot believe this is it! It's really happening. God has been so good to us and has blessed us beyond measure.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Cycle Day 11

Today's largest follicles measured at 17x19 and the smallest are measuring 9x9. My uterine lining is looking nice and thick as well. I don't yet have word on when the retrieval will be, but it's looking like Monday or Tuesday. It's approaching quickly! I'll most likely go back in tomorrow morning and will then have word on when to administer the trigger shot and therefore I'll know when my retrieval will be. The nurse today said, due to the good size off all the follicles, the Dr. should be able to get all of them out. Sometimes, however, not all the follicles contain eggs. So, we will see, but as for now it's looking very promising!

I had to sign a ton of papers today; consents, authorizations, on and on... I felt like we were buying a house all over again! Geeesh!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cycle Day 9

Today's ultra-sound showed about 16 follicles, the largest measuring 13x13. From here on, they should begin to grow 1-2 mm/day. I'm doing okay overall. However, yesterday I suffered my 3rd vomit-inducing migraine headache in the past week and a half. I asked the nurse today and she said that can definitely be a result of the meds and the fact that my hormones are all over the place. She said it should get better as my estrogen levels continue to go up. It's looking like I should be ready for our egg retrieval around Sunday/Monday. I'll know more when I go back in on Friday and will post then!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Cycle Day 4

Today is CD4, Day 3 of Stims. Ultrasound today showed lots of little follicles growing.... 6 on the right and about 10 on the left. They are pretty small still since I've only been on meds for a short time. I go back in Monday. Also had labs today, most came back fine but my TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) is up again. It was 4.3. They'd like it to be between 1-2. I've been battling this Hypo-Thyroid junk for about 4 years now. We'll re-check that Monday too and send the blood out for a full Thyroid panel. Hoping it doesn't mean anything negative!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Meant to Be

It's really happening. After trying, waiting, push-backs, set-backs, and everything in between, our IVF is really happening. Yesterday, was CD 2 (Cycle Day 2) and my first day of stims (Stimulation Medications.) I've been doing the Lupron medication myself for a week now. J got a new job working construction and has been leaving at 5am. I chose to inject myself rather than have to wake up that early on my Summer break! It's actually not that bad. Starting yesterday, it went from 1 injection a day to 3 a day. The plan will be adjusted based on how I respond to the meds, but as of now, I plan to be on the stims for about 10 days. Then, I will stop the stims and administer my HCG trigger shot (this is done to give the final push and trigger ovulation.) 36 hours after the trigger, I will go in for my egg retrieval.

As I learn more about this process, I realize that though it meticulously scientific, it is also completely miraculous. Yes, we have the help of advanced medications and some of the best doctors out there, but, it is all up to God. Over the past couple weeks, we have received more and more signs that this is the right path for us. This is how we are meant to become parents. I found myself saying that it is amazing the way things are just falling into place. But, I just discovered, they are not "falling into place." They have been intentionally put into place by a much higher power. We are so blessed and so thankful.

I plan to update more often now that we're in the thick of things. I will be going in for regular ultrasounds and lab work and will continue to post updates. Tomorrow is my next appointment to see how I've been responding after my first 2 days of stims. Wish us luck...or as we say in the TTC-community, "baby-dust!"

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

...And Away WE GO!

Well, today was my 1st Lupron injection. I went into the clinic for the nurse to do the 1st one, but J will administer the rest. I will take this injection each morning until my egg retrieval. In 2 days, I will take the last birth control pill of the pack and will expect menses to begin shortly thereafter. When it does, I go in for ultrasound and labs and as long as we get the "all-clear" then we are a go.

On another note, a lot has happened since my last post. For a moment, J and I thought our IVF would have to be put on hold for a while when we discovered the cost for the medications were triple what we had anticipated. However, we then learned about an amazing program that provides 1-month of free meds to fertility patients with no insurance coverage for fertility and who meet certain income guidelines. We applied and were accepted. Not all the meds were free however, but it did proved the Gonal-F and Ovidrel, which helped out greatly! We ended up having to pay only $800 for over $3,000 worth of medications! This program is called the Compassionate Care Program through EMD Serono Fertility Lifelines. I highly recommend looking into this program.

On a less happy note, we got the results back today from J's semen analysis and they were not great. He had 10.8 million sperm (20 is considered "normal") and had 88% motility (this was actually good news since 50-60% is considered "normal".) The big shocker was that out of 100 sperm, only 2 had "normal heads." This is not good news. They want at least half to have normal heads. So, our doctor says we will definitely need to use ICSI (Intro-cytoplasmic Sperm Injection...when a single sperm is directly injected into an egg rather than letting the sperm fertilize the egg on it's own.) This will increase our chances of success.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

And It Begins.....

Well...Here we go. Never have I thought I could be so utterly terrified and completely excited at the same time. This is probably going to be the most nerve-wracking, emotional time of my life so far. I will now begin documenting each stage in the IVF process. I still cannot believe this is happening, but yet, it feels very natural...this is what is meant to be.

Here is the breakdown of the next few weeks. We don't have all the dates yet, but here is how it begins....

~Monday, May 17- Pre-IVF Cycle Day 1, Menstruation began

~Friday, May 21st- Pre-IVF Cycle Day 5, Began taking Birth Control Pills for 3 weeks.

~Tuesday, May 25th- J has to have another semen analysis, results to be posted later.

~Tuesday, June 8th- Begin daily injections of Lupron- (Lupron is used to suppress the pituitary gland which is responsible for triggering ovulation. During, IVF they will retrieve my eggs prior to ovulation therefore, Lupron will keep my body from ovulation before the retrieval. This will be used for about 10 days)

~Thursday, June 10th- Last Birth Control Pill taken, Menstrual cycle should begin a few days later.

~The dates of the remainder of the cycle are TBD, but here is what will happen~

~Soon after menstrual cycle begins, I will begin daily injections of Follistim & Menopur (Follistim does just what it sounds like it does. It stimulates the follicles. This helps one produce more follicles and helps them grow in size. In natural ovulation, one typically releases 1 egg, in controlled ovarian stimulation during IVF, it is ideal to produce many eggs to increase the chances of successful fertilization. Menopur assists Follistim in producing larger and a higher quantity of eggs. It also helps with egg quality.)

~I will go into the clinic nearly every other day for bloodwork which will determine my levels of Estrodial and other hormones as well as trans-vaginal ultrasounds which will determine current size and number of follicles. When the follicles reach the ideal number, size, and proper maturation my egg retrieval will be scheduled.

~Egg Retrieval (aka Follicle Aspiration)- I will go into the IVF clinic and will be put under mild sedation through IV. That morning, J will give his "sample." My Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE aka fertility doctor) will use a needle which is passed through the vagina and into the ovaries through ultrasound guidance. Eggs and fluid are aspirated into the needle and passed onto the embryologist in the lab.

~Wait #1- After the retrieval, eggs & sample are mixed, are allowed to "do their thing," and are closely monitored. If needed, a procedure called ICSI (Intro-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection) may be used. This is when a single sperm is directly injected into a single egg. This is used if sperm is not penetrating the eggs on it's own. After fertilization occurs, we must wait 3-5 days as the fertilized embryos are cultured and are allowed to develop into blastocysts (highly developed embryos.)

~Embryo Transfer- 3-5 days after retrieval, blastocysts are transferred into the uterus through a catheter.

~Wait #2- THE MOST STRESSFUL TIME OF ALL: Waiting to see if the embryos implanted and pregnancy has occured. Bloodwork is done 10 days after transfer.

I will continue to post updates as we go. There you go, all you ever wanted to know about the IVF process.....ANY QUESTIONS? Phew!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Infertility Awareness Week

It is Infertility Awareness Week. I learned today that 7.3 million Americans and over 80 million people all over the world struggle with Infertility. I am a member of a site called, "Fertility Ties." Below is something I posted answering the question, "What would you tell others about Infertility?"....

Infertility is something that, unless you have experienced, you simply cannot fathom. How can it be that one can grieve the loss of something that never was? I don't have that answer, but I know it's possible. I've been there. It helps to know you're not alone, but that doesn't give you your baby either. I guess people should know it's a long and winding road with many bumps. Those who've never been faced with the problem should know they are blessed and recognize that it does not come easy for so many. The things that has gotten me through the worst times is believing that God would not call me to do something that is impossible for me to do. And He has called me to be a mother. Therefore, it is not impossible. It will happen in His time, not mine. In my humble opinion, this is simply a journey that one cannot go through without pure faith!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

IVF planned for June

Well, the possible IVF has been pushed back to June due to when the clinic begins cycles. It actually works out well because I will be out of school (I teach Pre-K) and my schedule will be wide open. That is to say, only if we do not get a miracle this month. I am excited and very, very nervous. We know this is the right choice though. I feel like so much worry has been lifted from me since the decision was made to go forward with the IVF, I am very much at peace. I plan to post daily while in the IVF process. There is so much involved and I want to chronicle it so that I can remember it as well as to help those who may be going through it soon.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

My Holy Saturday Reflections.

Well, here I am, on Holy Saturday, the night before Easter Sunday. Once again, I find myself in what we TTC'ers refer to as the "Two Week Wait" or (2WW) which is the time between ovulation and the beginning of the menstrual cycle. The time in which there is nothing one can do but.... wait. Though I know it is in no way anything close to what Jesus went through, I cannot help but wonder how He was able to wait for what was coming. I have found myself in this situation time and time again. Trying to find ways to occupy my time in order for these 2 weeks to go by quicker. It never does.
My sister, C, came in town today for Easter. She brought me a gift, a beautiful moonstone necklace. Included with it is a description of what moonstone is beneficial for... "the female reproductive cycle, menstrual-related disease and tension, PMS, hormonal balance, childbirth, pregnancy and insomnia...A stone of new beginnings and filled with passive Receptive feminine energy. It balances female-male energy...Amplifies emotions in sensitive people and enhances lucid dreaming."
I have 4 wonderful, wise, older sisters. But, C and I have a special, unspoken bond. C and her husband tried to conceive for many years, went through procedures, medications, and lots of stress. A little over 3 years ago, they discovered that they were meant to be parents through adoption. I have so much love and respect for C and her husband. It helps just having someone there who has been through so much of this and feels my pain.
I am now wearing this moonstone around my neck. It feels peaceful.
I am hopeful today. I heard something in church last week that really hit home, "Stop limiting your future in the terms of your past, but start defining it in the terms of your GOD."
Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Rough Day

Well, the first of 2 "natural" tries before IVF did not work. At first, I didn't put much faith in this cycle anyway knowing that the chances of us conceiving naturally are quite low. However, I was a couple days late and even though I told myself not to, I became very excited thinking this could possibly be our miracle. I'm really bad about getting my hopes up. Anyway, according to our "plan" we have 1 more natural try before beginning the long process of IVF. I say, "plan" because I've recently decided I hate that word and am petitioning for it to be banned completely from the English language. My whole like I've been a "planner." I always have my assignments completed the next day, I am early for everything, I have lists upon lists upon lists all over my house and office. I had a "plan" for my life....or so I thought. I'm starting to think children should not be taught to "plan" their lives. I was and look where it got me. I mean, having goals are one thing, but why plan anything because it seems, nothing happens as planned. There is my vent for the day. I can only hope that my dreams fall into God's master plan and that one day, in His time, it will happen....One day, baby!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Surgery and More

So, after 2 failed IUI's Dr. D suggested that I have an laparoscopy to determine if there were any other undetected problems which could be preventing pregnancy. He did not expect to find anything. On October 7th, 2009, I had my lap. I had never had surgery other than the removal of an ingrown toenail, which in no way could be compared to this. I was most nervous about the anesthesia and how I would react to it. After the surgery, I had to be kept in recovery for an extra 2 hours because I could not stop vomiting. When I was finally aware enough to have an idea of what was going on around me, I was informed that they found stage 2-3 Endometriosis on the uterus, both ovaries, and the cervical wall. The good news was, they were able to remove it all and only need to make 2 small incisions; one in the navel and one about 6 inches below. We were once again hopeful. This was the reason why it hadn't happened yet, right?

After recovering from the surgery, we tried another IUI. Another failure. We decided to try for the 4th and final time. I had developed an ovarian cyst, a common side-effect of ovarian stimulation drugs, so we sat that cycle out. The following month we tried our last IUI. I thought for sure this was you can guess...another flop.

We knew the next step would be Invitro-Fertilization (IVF.) We had, and still have, so many questions and concerns about IVF. Can we afford it? How many eggs will we get? How many will we choose to fertilize? How many will be transferred back? What happens to the unfertilized eggs? What happens to the un-transferred embryos? It's all so exhausting!

We decided to have our IVF consult with Dr. D. He calmed a lot of our fears. Our biggest concern was what would be done with resulting embryos that are not transferred back. To our relief, the law in our state mandates that any embryos resulting from IVF must be frozen and cannot be discarded. We felt comfortable with this as discarding already formed embryos is completely against our Christian beliefs.

So, the current plan is this; my husband, J, is in Graduate School and will be taking his very stressful comprehensive exams next month, in April. In May, when that is over, we plan to move forward with IVF, if we are not pregnant before then. That gives us 2 months to try naturally and boy, are we praying for a miracle!

It is very expensive and we're still not yet sure how we are going to manage it, but we are going to try. I tell all my family and friends that we are accepting donations. Of course, I'm not serious...that is unless someone actually wants to donate! :)

Catching Up: The Past Few Years

I had been on serious medications for Rheumatoid Arthritis which I was diagnosed with at the age of 16. The medications; Plaquenil, Enbrel, Prednisone, and most of all, Methotrexate are extremely harmful to a fetus and therefore it is absolutely prohibited that one tries to conceive while taking them. Thankfully, and completely by God's mercy, my RA went into remission a couple months before we were married. Soon after that, I was diagnosed with Hypo-thyroid Disease which can cause ovulatory problems. I began medication and after a few months, my levels were normalized and I felt great. We had been married 6 months when we were able to get off of Birth Control Pills and stop "preventing," knowing that all the RA medications would be out of my system. I began charting my basal body temperature and other fertility signs. The book, "Taking Charge of your Fertility," by Toni Weschler taught me so much about my body and my cycle that I never learned in sex ed. I soon discovered that I was not ovulating at all. At first, the doctors assumed it was due to the Hypo-thyroid Disease, it was also thought that it could just be taking the BCP's a while to get out of my system. After a few 75 day long cycles in which I still did not ovulate, I insisted that I be tested for other conditions. Finally, it was concluded that I had Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. I remember how horrific that diagnosis seemed. I cried hysterically. Little did I know, it would get so much worse.

I was prescribed Metformin and was told by a nurse practitioner, "I guarantee you'll be pregnant within 3 months." (2 years later, I wish I had gotten that guarantee in writing.) After 3 months on Metformin and still no ovulation in sight, I switched to a new OB-GYN. She put me on Clomid, 50mg. We did 3 months of that and still no ovulation. On our 4th cycle with Clomid, the dosage was increased to 100mg. Finally, I ovulated! Ahh, the relief, some hope. That cycle however, did not result in pregnancy. Nor did the 2 following Clomid cycles. I was referred to have a HysteroSalpingogram (HSG)to make sure that my fallopian tubes were not blocked. Thankfully, we learned my tubes were all clear and looked good. It cost about $650.00 to learn that. We finally decided to suck-it-up and agreed to try to get in to see a Reproductive Endocrinologist, despite the $215.00 consultation fee which we really couldn't afford. We made the appointment for the following month.

By this point it had been about 12 months since we first began trying. Our amazing RE Dr. D suggested that we try the more serious fertility meds, injectible Gonadotropins paired with an Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI). We began injections of the ovarian stimulator, Follistim, the GnRH antagonist, Ganirelix and the HCG, "trigger shot." We were so hopeful and excited. The medications cost roughly $1,000.00 for 1 cycle. Thankfully, some family were able to help us out with the cost. When I discovered that 1st IUI had failed, I was absolutely devastated! My heart had never hurt so badly. Floods of different emotions rushed through me; anger, sadness, grief, frustration, hopelessness and so much more. Why is it so easy for some women to conceive and yet for others, those who may very well want it more, it is so difficult? It just wasn't fair! We tried again with the meds and a 2nd IUI, only to disappointed all over again.

An Introduction

Well, here I am attempting to document the past 2 years of me and my husband's journey toward parenthood. To give the complete picture however, I must go back many years earlier. Warning...this could take a while. I met J almost 10 years ago. He was a freshman in college and I was a junior in high-school. We were set up on a blind date by some mutual friends and it was pretty much love at first sight. We dated for 5 years before he finally proposed and 2 years later we were married. It was truly the happiest day of my life. J and I always wanted to have children. I remember way back in Kindergarten, my teacher asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. My answer was simply, "a mommy..." and that was the truth. As far back as I can remember, being a mother was my ultimate goal and it remains so.