Thursday, September 13, 2012

One More For the Team

I hate to hear about Khloe Kardashian's IF struggles, but I have so much respect for her for being open about it. It's not the easiest thing to talk about sometimes so I cannot imagine broadcasting it on world-wide television. But I really appreciate women like Khloe and Giulianna who put faces to IF for the rest of the world. There are so many women out there in all walks of the journey and I know the comforts of realizing there are other people, even people who seem to have everything, facing the same daily struggles.

The person I am least impressed with is Kim KarTRASHian. In typical narcissistic fashion she makes Khloe's situation all about herself. Apparently she's considered freezing her own eggs. You know, just in case. I'm not even going to try and make a pun with that one.

Keep your head up, Khloe. We're all rooting for you.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

I Made It

I've waited a really long time to make this post. Two and half years to be exact. We're 15 weeks pregnant now; officially in the second trimester. I guess I'll start at the beginning.

Saturday morning, the day after our ER, about 9 am. I am still in bed, sleeping off the rest of the anesthesia. My husband comes running into our bedroom, shakes me awake. I open my eyes and he has a huge smile on his face, his eyes are bright.
 "Honey, I just got off the phone with the embryologist and both eggs fertilized! And she said they look good!"
 He said it as though he was telling me he'd won a new car. My heart swelled to see him so excited. I will never forget that moment.

The second unforgettable moment came the day of our first beta. We took the day off work to spend it with my sister and her family, in town from out of state. We told no one that that day was our first beta. We didn't want to relive the heartbreak of the chemical pregnancy. We figured if the beta came back high, then we'd go ahead and tell our family. But if it came out borderline we wanted to wait for the second beta to confirm it. I was of course nervous, but I also had a pretty good feeling we were going to get a positive. The first change I noticed were sore, swollen boobs. It seemed this happened pretty much overnight. Second, I started to come down with a cold. It wasn't bad, but I was feeling a little run down and my throat was scratchy. I am hardly ever sick. And I had heard of women getting sick right at the onset of pregnancy. The third sign was about three nights before our beta. My mom served fish for dinner. I love fish. I took one bite and I almost gagged. Hmmm. (I still have the fish aversion today). The fourth sign was my heart rate. It was noticeably faster. There were times it felt like my heart might beat right out of my chest. It wasn't constant but it was just these surges. Definitely something I'd never experienced before. I was also feeling crampy; like menstrual cramps but without any spotting or bleeding. Oh, and the hunger. I was hungry all the time. I'd finish one meal and already I was thinking about the next!

So we spent the day with my family which was a welcomed distraction. But as the morning turned into afternoon I felt more and more anxious. Finally at 3:00 the call came. We were all at the park when the phone rang. I quickly answered it, separated myself from my family, my husband right behind me, and the nurse wasted no time telling me it was positive. I asked right away what the number was. 344. What? She said it again. 344. Holy. Shit. 344. 344!! Our beta with our chemical pregnancy was 23. I immediately burst into tears and felt my whole body just start to shake. It was as though every emotion of the past 2 1/2 years was stored deep inside me and it just couldn't flow out fast enough. My poor husband's face filled with panic for a minute; he didn't know what the hell was going on. It's 344, I managed to choke out. His eyes grew huge while he waited for me to hang up with the nurse. Neither of us could speak for a full minute, we just held each other and I cried. Then I remembered the rest of family was watching us. They had no idea what was going on. So we told them right away. It was especially special because my sister was with us when we found out.

The second beta was that Monday, (the first was on a Friday). The second beta came back in the 1900's. I was shocked it came back so high again. And worried. Our RE told us the beta numbers themselves don't mean much, it's just the rate at which they grow. But I've heard enough about betas that I knew those numbers were twin numbers. But I knew it wasn't twins. I just had a really good intuition that it could only be one. So I kept thinking that something must be wrong for the numbers to be so high for just one embryo. Of course I went to Dr. Google and I started to fear a molar pregnancy. I was terrified. I cried a lot. I prayed nonstop. I worried all day everyday (although I've always slept soundly through the nights since day 1). After a couple days of this my husband finally prodded it out of me what I was so upset about. Being the most intelligent guy he is, he did some research of his own and found the symptoms of molar pregnancies, which mimics hyperthyroidism. I had none of those symptoms. Just really high beta numbers that I couldn't let myself believe were real.

Three very long, excruciating weeks went by until the morning of our first sono. I have never been so scared in my life. I could hardly speak. I could hardly breathe (although I ate a full breakfast which should have told me something). When we sat in the waiting room I couldn't move. And when I sat on the exam table, waiting for the sonographer, I couldn't stop shaking. So I just sat there and prayed. The world stopped turning for those 20 seconds until we saw the embryo on the screen. We had a wonderful sonographer that was with us during our cycle. Right away she said, this is a good looking embryo! I couldn't let my breath out though until she found the heartbeat. We couldn't hear it but we saw it. We literally saw the heart beating on the screen! There aren't words to describe how I felt seeing that. She pointed out the arm and leg buds, measured it to find it was two days ahead of schedule, and then we were done. We were officially being released from our RE to go out into the world, be pregnant and have a baby like any other normal couple. It was like being in a dream. It is still like being in a dream. So surreal. So incredible. And unbelievable.

No one tells you while you're going through infertility how terrifying those first few weeks are. For so long I was so focused on just getting pregnant. Then a whole new set of worry sets in on just staying pregnant. There was one morning I woke up convinced my boobs shrank during the night. I thought that must mean something was wrong. I wasn't pregnant anymore. I don't know how I managed it but I didn't drive my car to the RE that morning to demand another sono or beta, but when I got to work I immediately went into the ladies's room, stood in a stall and just cried. I was just so scared and I felt so helpless. But the days went by and nothing dramatic happened. I have a good friend who suffered a loss with her first pregnancy, and she reminded me that this was in God's hands, and I'd be doing the best I could do in honoring Him and showing my gratitude by trusting Him. So I just made that my mantra for the next several weeks. And I realized that if something happened, I would be okay, and we would try again. Maybe not as easily as that, but I knew we would get there.

The second sono came in July, this time with an OB. It was so strange to be a pregnant girl in an OB's office. It was like I didn't belong there. I felt like an impostor; like any minute they were going to ask me what the hell I was doing there. But the second went much like the first, and at 11 weeks I knew our chances of experiencing a loss were going to be very small. It was after that second sono I really started to breathe. I started referring to our baby as our baby, instead 'the embryo', or just 'it.' I started using words like 'when' instead of 'if'; 'going to' instead of 'maybe.' Each day that went by I started to sink more and more into pregnancy, like easing into a hot tub; piece by piece.

Today I can say I am lounging comfortably in that proverbial hot tub. I have a visible bump (I've been wearing maternity pants for 3 weeks). I actually smile at other pregnant women. My throat doesn't tighten when I walk by a Carter's. I read every article I come across about pregnancy and parenting. I laugh more. I dream more. I live more. It's like someone took my life off of the Pause button.

Some time around January 30th our lives will be forever changed. Our story goes on to a new chapter. But I will never be able to leave infertility behind. People will ask when we're having a second child, and it will hurt. Our child may someday ask for a little brother or sister, and it will hurt. More tough decisions will have to made sooner than we'd like. Tears will fall again over infertility. But I know no matter what the future holds, or how our story unfolds, as long as we walk with and trust God, we're going to make it. We're going to finish the race.

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing." 2 Timothy 4:7-8

Ignore the video; it was the only one I could find of the song I wanted to go along with this post. But it's a great song.
"I never could have made it this far without the Lord."


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

How Good Is He?

Just 2 1/2 weeks left of our first trimester! Second sono was today and everything looked great. Heartbeat was the same and baby is still measuring 2 days ahead. I won't have another sono until Sept. But I go back next month to be weighed and have my bp checked again. God Is Good

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Womb With a View

Of one tiny, perfect embryo. At some point I will write all about it, but for now I will just say, Praise God...

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Phillipians 4 6:9

The 2ww has now turned into the 3ww... Please keep us in your prayers.

Monday, May 14, 2012

*My Husband Won $500 and Other Ways This Day is Awesome

IVF #2 is officially over!

I'll sum it up:

  • We did the micro flare Lupron protocol. I started Lupron on CD1 and started stims (Menopur and Bravelle) on CD3. Doc added Ganirelex half dose on CD 6 or 7, as soon as the dominant follicle showed up. I was doing 5 injections a day b/c the Lupron was twice daily throughout the cycle. I could teach Courtney Love a few tricks.
  • On CD7 doc was ready to convert to IUI. I was only showing one mature follicle, but I've been to this rodeo a few times and I know my body is slow to respond. I told him we were going to CD10 before deciding to do that.
  • On CD10 I had 6 follicles, ranging 26 - 14mm, all on my left ovary. My right ovary just refused to play, but that's no surprise since it's the gimpy one. Doc retracted his IUI idea :)   
  • CD10 I triggered; CD12 was ER. Lining was 8.4mm. Disappointingly, only 2 eggs were after all mature enough for fertilization. One was too big and full of fluid, the other 3 were just too small.
  • Both fertilized naturally. On Day 2, which was yesterday, we had two "average" grade embryos - a 3 and a 4 cell. The average rating is due to some cell fragmentation. Doc and the embryologist wanted to go ahead with a Day 2 transfer (they don't like to keep them to morula or blast when there are none to weed out), so yesterday, Mother's Day, we had our average embryos transferred.
 What was different about IVF # 2 from #1:

  • My attitude.  I prayed more and worried less. 
  • I took up a new hobby (Bikram yoga - LOVED it and will miss doing it).
  • I went to acupuncture twice a week all during the cycle and two months prior. My acupuncturist is amazing. I am a believer in acupuncture now, especially for the mental benefits.
  • Supplements - prenatal of course, fish oil, iron, melatonin, inositol and pyncogenol
  • The protocol itself was very different - micro vs long Lupron, Ganirelex started later, Menopur and Bravelle instead of Menour and Follistim. I took Dex with both cyles, no estrogen with this 2nd cycle, and of course progesterone. *Doc gave me the option of supp instead of PIO! 
  • The money. OMG the money. We spent $20k on our first IVF, including meds. I am not rounding up. Grand total for IVF #2, including meds - about $1,200. Seriously. And that's b/c I hadn't met my deductible yet, otherwise it would've been even less. I swear to God I have not complained about my <insert expletive here> job once since doing this cycle. Ok maybe once, but I smiled while doing it.
  • *We made it to transfer! I read forums that attributed better egg quality to the micro flare Lurpon protocol, and this time egg quality was better. Even though only two were mature, doc said they looked good. The last cycle I had only two mature as well, but they were such poor quality that on Day 2 the embryologist told me the embryos barely rated a 3 on a 3 scale and to expect neither one to transfer. I was so nervous yesterday waiting for the embryologist to tell us how they looked before our transfer my pulse came in at 138. They gave me Valium :)
So the images of growing follicles in my head have been replaced by images of growing embryos. It's going to be a loooong 2ww, but for now I am finding a lot of excitement in the What If. What if this is IT? What if our baby (or babies?!) is in there? What if life as we know it is very soon forever changed? What if the pain and torment of the past two and half years could be culminating into the joy and blessing of the rest of our lives?

*What if. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Everyday lately I've been feeling like I'm sleep walking. Blame it on the progesterone. I wake up and I'm exhausted. The middle of the day and I'm exhausted. Evening time, I'm exhausted. Every morning I have to fight to keep my eyes open on my way to work. That cold medicine, foggy headed feeling just lingers day in and day out. The other half of the month that I'm not on progesterone I am back to my old self. After this next IVF cycle I am going to have to figure out what to do about this...

Speaking of which, that's just one month away! So our consultation with RE # 3 went well. I am a little embarrassed to admit we've been through 3 of them now. But on the other hand, we've learned a lot from each one, and I know we will from this one too. We met this doctor last year through my support group. Over the past year I heard more and more about him from the women in my support group. They really sang his praises and I can totally see why. He's so different from the previous two doc's. Have you ever met someone that exudes so much positive energy that it just sucks you in and you want to be around them all the time? Just the tone of his voice instantly put me at ease. He's a genuine person and from what I understand, a great doctor. My old boss even knew who he was because a good friend of hers was treated by him. I've never heard a negative word about him.

It was also somewhat validating to have a second doctor agree that I was probably over suppressed the first IVF cycle. His eyes got pretty huge when I told him what my Follistim dosage was (575), and he thinks the birth control, Luperon and 10 days of Ganirelex were probably a bad combination for a poor responder. Luckily, we know I respond well to Menopur and Bravelle, which is what RE #1 had me on all three of my timed IC cycles. So that's what we're going back to. No Luperon! No bcp's! For those that have had the privilege of that unholy union, you know what a relief that's going to be. So it's just going to be Menopur and Bravelle, with Ganirelex once he starts to see growth. And no estrogen this time either, unless my lining is too thin. I'm on board with that protocol. I'm not expecting any dramatic result this time, just hopefully one good egg.

I feel a lot different heading into this IVF cycle. The last time it felt so Do or Die. I didn't know what we were going to do if it didn't work. But now the financial burden has been lifted, the medication protocol is going to be a lot less intense, I've had a couple periods thanks to progesterone. As my husband likes to joke, hopefully the engine has been primed. Mentally, I feel more at peace. The acupuncture is definitely helping with my mood. And I think once I start having twice weekly sessions instead of one I'll feel that much better (I'll go twice a week during the IVF cycle). I'm also in a better place spiritually. I've grown in a lot of ways. Not that it won't still be hard, stressful, scary and emotional. But one thing  I have now that I didn't  have last year is faith and trust in God, and also myself. I know no matter what happens, we are going to be okay.

And I am going to be better. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Better Than Chocolate

In honor of Love Day I'm dedicating this entry to my husband, but first a few notes about what's been going on with me over the past 3 months:

  • Valentine's Day marks 90 days at my new company. March 1st is the first day on my new company's insurance plan. Last week my insurance card came in the mail. It's amazing how one little piece of plastic can almost erase 3 month's worth of frustration, stress and exhaustion ( I drive 100 miles/day for work; need I say more)?
  • Speaking of, the new job sucks. Not just because I have such a horrendous commute. Not just because I spend over $400/month in gas and tolls for the privilege of said nightmare. Not just because I am over-qualified for this job and I took a step down and a pay cut for it. Not just because I wake up at the ass crack of dawn 5 days a week and get home long after the sun has gone down (I don't want to know what my Vitamin D level is). Not just because I haven't had a full, outside the office lunch break since I started. Not just because I'm micromanaged. But put all of these together and what do you get? One pretty shitty job. But ask me what I wouldn't do for $30k in insurance money.
  • Our consultation with the potential new RE is March 5! I am excited. This is the first time ever I have been excited about an RE appointment. I am ready for IVF 2nd edition.
  • I am starting acupuncture. Several women in my support group recommended a "modern" acupuncturist in the area that specializes in infertility and reproductive issues. I met with her yesterday and I got a really good vibe from her. She asked all the right questions and definitely seemed to understand and have a direction for what type of treatment I need. I'll do acupuncture over the next couple months while gearing up for our next cycle (to hopefully happen in May). I'll write more about the experience as I get into it. My first treatment will be the 23rd. Should be interesting...
  • My HRT is working out. The estrogen has eliminated all my premenopausal symptoms. I cry a little easier now though. Ok, a lot easier. Those that know me well laugh at my newly developed sensitivity, as it's not exactly characteristic of me. But it just means I never get dry eye. I started off on progesterone tablets the first 3 months but moved on to supp's when the pills didn't quite get the job done. Supp's for two weeks every month, and progesterone at that (can you say tiredcrankyirritablesugarcravingbloatedbitchy), isn't exactly ideal, but I'll do what I gotta do to get some Flow action in my life. And I'm not talking Rida.

So here we are assaulted with chocolates, roses, arrows, hearts, red and pink at every turn, another February 14 upon us. What will I buy him this year? What will I write in his card to convey what I feel for him? How will this Valentine's Day be different than the others?

Valentine's Day is something of an anniversary for my husband and me. He asked me to be his girlfriend on Valentine's Day 9 years ago. That was one special day for us. At that time we had known and loved each other 7 years already. We met when I was 15, he was 14. I lived in Texas, he lived in Michigan. My family spent weeks every summer in Michigan because my grandma lived there and my mom was a teacher and had summers off. One year I made a girlfriend up there, whose aunt happened to live in the same neighborhood my husband hung out in all the time. My girlfriend's mom took us to that neighborhood for a beach day one afternoon. My girlfriend and I were lounging on the beach, minding our own business, when this tall, dark, very muscular, handsome boy comes into the scene with his friend. We flirt from a distance, both of us too shy to approach the other. When it was time for us to leave, we're in the car, we pass this boy and his friend, and my girlfriend's mom says, I know those boys. They come into my store all the time. It was fate. It was meant to me. My girlfriend's mom passes my phone number along to my husband after I was back home in Texas. I come home one day after school and my sister hands me the phone and says, it's for you. It's some guy and he sounds like he's from Michigan. Be still my heart! I think that may have been the first time I ever swooned. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Fast forward 16 years and I sit with my talk, dark, muscular, still so handsome boy, only this time we're not sitting on the beach. Instead of warm sand, we're sitting in stiff pleather chairs. Instead of hearing the rhythmic lull of the waves there's the monotonous buzzing of the neon light fixtures. Instead of gazing out into a blue abyss of water blending into sky, our view consists of dozens of Annie Liebowitz style photos. There are illustrations of ovaries and uteruses in colorful bound books. There is a model in front of us to demonstrate how to self inject. There are calendars and pens branded with pharmaceutical names we are now on a first name basis with. And we are hearing without understanding. Infertile. This is not our happily ever after. Our chairs are 10 inches apart but I feel alone, my hands clasped in my lap. My husband asks the doctor questions, she answers; I sit and feel the numbness that comes with the diagnosis that will forever change our lives. The RE tells us I need the injectible gonadotropins, if we're comfortable with that step. My husband doesn't wait for me to respond. He looks over at me, takes my hand, looks back at the RE and says, we'll do whatever it takes.

That is my Valentine. I've written a lot of blog entries about this IF experience. I don't know if I've conveyed what a remarkable person that supports me in this. I don't know if I ever could. But it was then and there I knew this was just another chapter to our story. It's not a feel-good one. It's a tear-jerker. But it's terribly romantic. The boy that loved the girl enough to stay in touch over 1200 miles, only seeing her once a year, for 7 years. The boy that loved the girl enough to move 1200 miles away from the only home he'd ever known. The boy that loved the girl enough to build a life and home for her. The boy that loved the girl enough to go to the ends of the earth with her to build the family too.

This Valentine's Day is different. I not only have a lover and a best friend as my Valentine. I have a hero.