Sunday, September 30, 2012

Returning to normal life

After all the excitement of the previous weeks, all of a sudden it seemed to stop.  Normal life was suddenly not interrupted by bed rest, shots, blood work, surgery, and numerous trips to the clinic.  I was able to get into a solid routine with my kids and get used to taking them back and forth to school.  It's been a lovely feeling after all the weeks of chaos!

I want to thank my readers for their continued patience!  Just a little while longer before we'll reveal to the world our results....

Thursday, September 20, 2012

All hot on the Western front

So far life has returned to normal, complete with colds for the 3 men in my family.  I've been doing my best to rest and relax, get enough rest, and just generally take it easy.  I am getting antsy to return to exercising but I know it's for the best that I don't.

The one thing that's new?  Hot flashes.  It seems that I'm hot all the time.  And maybe flash isn't quite the word.  They seem to be more like waves for me.  Ugh...I can't tell if it's a sign of good things to come or just a side effect of the the hormones I'm on. 

Yesterday I started my estrogen patches in addition to my daily "butt" shot of progesterone in oil.  The upside to getting poked in the butt every day?  I get to moon my husband!  (gotta find the fun somewhere, right?)

The things we do for our children!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Returning to normal

Strict bed rest officially ended for me today.  It was nice to move around more (and more importantly take a shower!) and see other parts of  my house besides my bedroom and bathroom. I'll still be resting quite a bit but at least I can get back to a somewhat normal routine.

There is always some debate as to whether or not this increases my success rate.  Having done one cycle each way, it's not a certain things for me at all.  But, as I've always said, I'll do whatever I'm instructed to in the hopes of success.

I'm now allowed to resume normal activities minus working out and I'm not allowed to do anything that will irritate the stability of my uterus. (Use your imaginations here, folks -- I'll spare you the details of that one.)

I feel as though I should act differently with this precious cargo.  Like I should walk differently, etc.  I hope it's not written all over my face that something is up, but really it's the truth.  Something is up (or "in" if you want to get technical, lol).  IVF gives us too much knowledge in this department.  If I had gotten pregnant the old-fashioned way, I wouldn't have any clue what my body is doing (or trying to do); I wouldn't have any clue that this little being is trying to establish itself.  I would be blissfully unaware. 

This is where I need to ask patience of my readers.  I will know my results sooner rather than later but will not share them here on my blog for a little while.  I know I've shared so much with you all and received so much support, love, and prayers in return.  But this one thing is something I need to keep to myself for a short period of time.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

And then there was 1...

From 8 to 5 to 3 to 1.  I got the news yesterday that of the 8 eggs retrieved of which 5 were mature of which 3 successfully fertilized, there was only 1 left.  The other 2 had slowly stopped growing.  The one remaining did not quite make it blastocyst stage but very close to it.

This is sobering and frustrating, but I am still cautiously optimistic. 

Here are some pics from the days events:

Our embryo

Making his/her trip into my uterus

 I will now spend the rest of today, all day tomorrow, and into Monday morning enjoying the comforts of my bed and my bedroom.  Then somehow I need to resume my life back to as normal as possible, and hopefully resist the urge to over-analyze every little thing my body does.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Embryo update #2 and transfer date

As promised the lab called again with an update on our embryos and with my transfer information.  Unfortunately, one of the embryos stopped growing and we are now left with just two. 

My transfer is scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday) at noon unless the lab calls back to move it one more day.  They want to get the embryos to what's called a blastocyst stage.  Here are two very good articles regarding blastocyst transfers: Article 1  and Article 2 .

Trying to stay positive in the midst of all this has been very challenging.  I had expected very different results given my previous cycle.  It is a sobering reminder that even though I'm only 34, the results of this cycle confirmed what the blood work early on had already told us:  reproductively, I am aging faster than normal.  And now I worry about egg quality.  Am I rolling the dice on bad eggs?  It's a hard thought to process.

Adding to this stress has been the fact that scheduling all of this has not been very favorable to my schedule nor to the schedules of the people that are helping us.  Luck has not been on my side in scheduling all of these procedures.  What's even more frustrating is that there is little I can do about this.  I am at the mercy of the clinic. 

The same is true when it comes to fate of my embryos.  I am putting them in the hands of my doctor and the embryology lab team.  I can only pray that the Lord gives them guidance to make the right decisions for me and for them.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Embryo update, transfer date, and new med

It's been a quiet couple of days since the retrieval.  Recovery took a little longer than anticipated but I'm all good to go this morning aside from a very ugly bruise on the inside of my arm from the IV.

I've been waiting with baited breath since Monday for the call from the embryology lab on what's been happening with the 8 eggs they retrieved.  I finally got that call this morning (bless fully while my monkeys were both at school).  Of the 8 eggs they retrieved, 5 were mature.  Of the 5 that were mature, only 3 fertilized.  This is disappointing in my eyes since I had hoped for better results.  It's also a little scary for me because the doctor wants to push them to day 5 to get the best of the best.  Given that I only have 3, I'm taking a big risk that at least 2 will make it this far.  It also means that there's a very high likelihood that I won't have any to freeze, making this my only shot to find that missing piece to our puzzle.

This is where I have to really trust the judgement of my doctor.  If she's sure that all will be well, then I have to be too.  This is also where the support of my friends and family and my faith in God is very crucial.  Knowing so many are rooting for this to work and praying for guidance lifts my spirits and keeps me going when I want to wallow in self pity and fear.

Today is also my birthday!  And on this day, my present is.....a shot in the butt!  That's right, today I start my progesterone in oil shot.  This shot will help support the embryo when it's transferred and will also support any pregnancy that may occur.  It's one I anticipate that I will be on for awhile, and while not an easy one by any stretch of the imagination, totally worth it.

Years ago when I had thought about how my future family would look I had said I wanted to be done having children by the time I turned 30.  This was a good possibility since I got married at 23.  Today as I turn 34, I am reminded very clearly how our life plans can change and that it's okay to revise that plan to include things that you never thought were possible.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Retrieval Day

Today was retrieval day.  I reported to the clinic at 11:30 am as instructed and waited until they called me back.  Surprisingly enough, I wasn't nervous. Changed into my hospital get up complete with paper booties over my socks and a hair net over my hair.  Then I met with the nurse, anesthetist, and doctor (not my own but still a wonderful doc). It turned out that the anesthetist was one I had worked with on my last cycle so she remembered my issues with anesthesia and was able to reassure me that all would be well again.

With one last trip to the bathroom and I was off to the procedure room to get hooked up to my IV.  For some weird reason the procedure room smelled like cookies and it made me giggle a bit.  The anesthetist said the last woman had said it smelled like Cocoa Puffs.  It was odd but a good way to break the ice.  She hooked me up to my IV and off to dream land I went, waking up approximately a half hour later in the recovery room with my husband sitting in the same chair I had left him in (even though I knew he had gone to another area to do his part).

Another half hour to wake up, monitor my vitals and finally have something to drink, and I was pretty much good to go.  Half hour car ride home, stop for a smoothie, and I was back at home ready to rest for the afternoon.

The doctor appeared for a brief minute to let me know he was able to retrieve 8 eggs and that I'll hear from the embryologist on Wednesday with a status update on how many we have and how they look.  Hopefully they'll be able to give me a transfer date but they are projecting either Thursday or Saturday.

I am back on meds again but at least it's just an antibiotic, the easiest med of all in this process.  Wednesday I start my progesterone in oil.

Now to continue to rest (Tylenol is all I'm allowed to take and it's not quite cutting it) and cross my fingers for good embryo results.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Day 11: Finally, a retrieval date!

I finally got my retrieval date today!  This morning's appointment revealed 6 follicles that should be ready to go on Monday morning.  I say should because the doctor will do the best s/he can to retrieve as many as possible.  In my first IVF cycle, they were not able to retrieve them all so that is a possibility.

My hCG trigger shot (the shot that will complete the maturation of the follicles and get them ready to ovulate) is at 12:30 am tonight.  Yep, 12:30 am!  Never before have I had to trigger this late but because they need to time my arrival and retrieval at the clinic to be a specific time, that is when they need me to do this particular shot.  This is also the point where I am done injecting myself.  Since intramuscular shots need to go into my backside and I'm just not flexible enough (despite a couple years of yoga) to bend that way, it's my husband's turn to help me out.

Tomorrow is then my most favorite day of this process -- no meds at all!  I have nothing to do at all; no shots, no oral meds, nothing!  A short, but much deserved, break in the process.

On Monday, I report to the clinic at 11:30 am to begin prep for the retrieval at 12:30 pm.  Egg retrieval is a surgery appointment, complete with anesthesia, hospital gown, and recovery time.  It is my least favorite thing about this process because I'm really not a fan of surgery (really who is?) and anesthesia and I just don't get along well.  It also means that I'm not allowed to eat or drink past midnight on Sunday night.  Monday morning and early afternoon will be very long!

Not only that but I am placing myself in an extremely vulnerable position.  See, in order to retrieve these follicles, they need to go up through my vagina and into my uterus.  They will go through the wall of my uterus with a needle and into each follicle to retrieve the mature egg.  Plus there's no guarantee that my doctor will be the one doing it  (they rotate weeks).  So I am constantly reminding myself that these people are professionals and will be professional in their work.  During this period, my husband will head to another part of the clinic and do his part in the process.

I will then go to recovery for a short period and then head home where I plan to spend the majority of the rest of the day in bed.  The clinic will call to check on me and the next day, they will call with how many they were able to fertilize.  I'll get a couple more updates with the status of the embryos and when they plan to transfer them.

Less than 2 days to go!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Day 10: the good, the (not so) bad, and the ugly

Today was another progress check to see what's going on with my ovaries and their little follicle friends. 

The good?  They found 3 more follicles growing in there! They are on the smaller side and may not catch up in time but they may surprise us and be ready to go. The biggest is still hanging in there waiting for her friends to come along for the party.

The (not so) bad?  I still don't have a firm retrieval date.  I had hoped they would say, Yes!  You're ready to go, trigger tonight, and we'll see you Sunday morning.  Sunday morning was the optimal morning for all things considered.  It was the easiest day for childcare (no one going to school) and for the two adults that would be helping me out (no one would need to take off work).  But, alas, it seems that Mother Nature had another thing on her mind.  While they are not 100% certain right now, it's pretty much a given that I'll be triggering tomorrow night and retrieving Monday morning.  I have another clinic appointment tomorrow morning to check progress and blood work.

The ugly?  My belly and arms.  After so many shots and blood draws, it's not a pretty site.   Hopefully I'm not drawing too many glances at my upper arms.  It is still late summer/early fall in my area so I can't really hide these marks on my arms.  I didn't have this problem before because it was winter the last two times I did this.   Yet another thing that's different this time around.

At this point I'm getting tired of this.  I'm tired of being crampy and bloated.  Tired of being cranky and emotional.  Tired of poking myself with needles twice a day and getting poked for blood draws.   And just tired of being tired.  I'm ready to move on to the next phase of this process.

Just two more days to go.....

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Day 9: Just for fun

Since this is my 3rd IVF cycle I thought I would have a little bit of fun and collect some data about my shots.  Might as well make it somewhat interesting, right?  And I was curious too.  I knew I was doing a lot of shots, but I wanted to know exactly how many times I was poking myself.

As of this evening's shot, I have officially poked myself 35 times.  Yep, that's right -- 35 times!  Holy smokes, I knew it was a lot but I had no idea it was that much.  Throw in 3 blood draws and I've been poked nearly 40 times.  And I've barely just scratched the surface.  If I am successful, I am facing shots until somewhere around 10-12 weeks of pregnancy; another 70 - 80 more shots plus what I still have to finish up with the stimulation meds.  That's a grand total of over 100 needle pokes.

You really can't be needle shy when you do IVF!

Tomorrow: progress check and hopefully my retrieval date.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Day 8: Progress check

The problem with having done IVF before is that you start to learn what the different numbers and measurements mean for your cycle.  Today's appointment and blood work was not as upbeat as I would've hoped for.  At this point they start to measure and see how many follicles I have growing. 

Based on how uncomfortable I've been feeling I had expected a big number.  That was not the case however.  The ultrasonographer was only able to measure 5 follicles -- 3 on one side, and 2 on the other.  There are number of smaller ones but too small to be counted and more than likely they won't catch up in time to be retrieved.  This is not the best news but definitely not the worst either.

The nurse initially then said she was slightly concerned about one follicle in particular because it seemed that it was growing faster than it's 4 other friends.  She told me that rather than waiting until Friday, she wanted to see me tomorrow.  Upon talking with the front desk, the appointment times they offered were not compatible with my schedule.  See, my older son, my first IVF miracle, is due to start Kindergarten tomorrow!  I had already interrupted his life enough with this process and I just couldn't do it to him again.  It was bad enough that I would miss the second morning of school by being at the clinic.  When I realized this, I unfortunately (and surprisingly to me and the receptionist) burst into tears.   Once she got out of me what was wrong (I swear the staff at my clinic are angels!), she was able to find me a time that would work.  I would have to wait, but I would be able to be there for my son.

Fortunately, after the doctor reviewed my blood work and ultrasound results she decided she did not need to me to come in tomorrow after all.  Friday's appointment would be enough.  I'm hoping that I will be able to get a firmer idea of when they would like to do the retrieval but I'm not positive they will be able to.

So for now I remain cautiously optimistic.  I had hoped for better news, but I am trying to remember that all is not lost, and all it takes is one....

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Day 5: Pincushion!

It's now Day 5 of my meds and I've officially reached Pincushion status.  Up until now I hadn't really felt that way but with 4 pokes a day, I quickly achieved this rather undesirable status.  I'm also having to be more strategic about my needle pokes.  I'm allowed just about anywhere on my belly that I can pinch up some fat and I'm no skinny-minnie so I have a decent amount of territory to work with.  However, after 5 days of pokes with a total of 15 needle pokes as of this morning, I'm starting to have to work harder to find places that I haven't poked myself.

Today was also Bonus shot day.  What's that you ask?  It's the day where I have to change out my Follistim cartridge mid-dose.  See, my Follistim comes in this neat little cartridge:

Technically it is supposed to hold 900 units of medication, but the drug company ever so helpfully tops it off with a little extra.  How much extra is not known for sure, but it's usually at least 100 units more.  So each vial generally holds about 1000 units, sometimes a tad more.  My daily dose is 225 units, twice a day.  So roughly every 2 days I hit the 900 unit vial mark.  After that, since I don't know how much is left exactly, I know that I will have to change out the vial mid-dose on the 3rd day.  It's not as complicated as you think.  See the Follistim pen is handy in that you turn a dial for your dose.  Once you've poked the needle in, you push the little plunger down and your dialed in dose goes in.  If your vial runs out mid-dose, the dial holds the number of what's left.  You pop in the new cartridge and keep on going.   The fun part?  It means a brand new needle, and a brand new needle poke.  Hence why today is Bonus shot day.  It means that today I'll get 5 needle pokes instead of my usual 4.  Oh joy!  (sarcasm at it's finest)

I'm also starting to feel that things are cooking in my ovaries.  This morning's bike ride was uncomfortable and my tummy is starting to also reflect the changes brewing within.  Bloating and pressure are the norm now, and not just in my sinuses.  The Neti pot is still my best friend and sluggishness and cravings are slowly taking over my life.  But it's nice to have some sign that all of this is working.  Only about another week to go until retrieval.....