Thursday, April 26, 2012

better each day

This week has been nothing short of crazy. MBL is out of town, actually out of the country, and it has left me in charge of absolutely everything. And, to top it off, I am fully in the swing of working 40 hours/week. Monday my hormones were still all out of whack from our IVF cycle and I ended up feeling like maybe I should go back on Zol.oft afterall. Tuesday was tough as well. I cried after I dropped Piper off at daycare and I wasn't sure I could make it through the day, let alone the entire week. As the day went on, however, I found myself feeling better moment by moment. The chat I had with MBL after work helped immensely. Basically, I feel at peace. I was praying for this and I was so certain I would never feel good again, but now that my hormones are leveling out, I'm feeling loads better. I feel like myself, only stronger. When MBL and I talked earlier this week, I told him that after all we've gone through to have our babies, I know we could face anything. And, it's true. As much as infertility sucks the big one, it has changed our marriage for the better. When WHEN we get pregnant again, I will seriously consider VBACing. I never thought I'd say that. NEVER. But, I would. And I would probably try to do a completely med-free birth. How does this relate to IF? Well, because of what we've gone through, I know that MBL would be a GREAT support for me if I chose that route. I KNOW that I could make it through because he would be there to help me. Just like he's been there through all the IF failures and setbacks. Just like he was there for me during the 8 hours of med free, Pito.cin induced labor I was in with Piper prior to my c-section.
And that makes me proud. We have allowed IF to make us stronger. To make our marriage better. Sure there are days when I feel lower than low and even his support and love can't pull me out, but, overall, we are better people because of what we have gone through. We are better parents because of it, for sure. Our little Piper is one of the most loved and most smooched 11 month olds in the world. And our love for her is definitely what fuels us on our journey towards #2. So where are we with that? Well, I need to send in our forms to the reproductive immunologist so that we can try and get in for an appointment. I also have a call out to CC.RM. I was debating back and forth whether or not it was really worth it to schedule a consult, but I really feel like we need to consider all of our options. Our follow up consult with our current RE is scheduled for next Tuesday. The canister for MBL's sper.m DNA test should arrive tomorrow and our goal is to get the "sample" out by Monday. We would then have the results by the following week. If those results are what we think they will be (bad), then we will need to seriously consider how to work around bad spe.rm DNA. I'm guessing we will have to look at doing a cycle at CC.RM with CCS. FIRST, we will talk with our current doc and get his feel for things. If he is confident he can get us pregnant, I will consider cycling there again. At the same time, every day my mind reels with all the potential "solutions" for our problem of not being able to get pregnant on our own (or even through IVF!). I'm looking forward to the "answers" that the next two weeks will bring us. And, in the meantime, MBL and I will be trying on our own for the first time since June 2010. And, I'm not going lie, a small part of me is hoping for the biggest of all surprises, a natural BFP. A girl can dream, right?? How has IF impacted your relationships? Has it had any positive outcomes on your marriage? What kind of answers are you looking for these days?

Monday, April 23, 2012


The past few days have been hard. A lot harder than I thought they would be. I've found myself crying more times than I can count. My heart is broken over our BFN. I knew we weren't facing the best odds when we got to day five and just had one embryo left, but I was still hopeful that all the poking and prodding would lead to a BFP.

Today was really hard. MBL is out of town for the week and I am left managing the house, Piper, and my 40 hour work week with absolutely no help. To top it off, I'm feeling very lonely. And I think this would be true even if MBL were in town. The reason for my loneliness is simple, I am infertile and it makes people uncomfortable. Ever since we went through our first IVF back in 2009, I have done my best to talk about our infertility, to be honest about our struggle. I want to give people the opportunity to understand infertility better and the only way I can do that is by sharing our story. MBL is very outspoken at work about what we have gone through and, surprisingly, his closest coworkers can all relate. His boss and his counterpart both suffered from late term miscarriage and baby loss. They get it.

I have not been so lucky. I am aware of people at work who have struggled with infertility, but I am not close with any of them. My very closest friend from college got pregnant her first month off of birth control and recounted to me how disappointed she was to have gotten pregnant so easily. When MBL and I went and visited her in March, she and her husband carried on about why they thought insurance should not cover infertility. It was like a knife in the heart. Basically they feel like they deserve their fertility, deserve what they have been given, which implies that we somehow are undeserving of the same. How? Why? Unfortunately, I was basically given the same response from my group leader when I (bravely) shared our struggle with my moms' group. Others have blatantly ignored my pain, pretending that MBL and I don't have a heartbreaking DISEASE.

So, today, I'm lonely. And praying I don't feel like this for too long.

What is the biggest emotion you feel from infertility? Have you been able to find people to support you on this journey?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

the grief of IVF failure

If you're here from ICLW, Hi! You can find out all about me and my infertility journey in the tabs at the top of the blog. Basically my husband and I have one daughter from IVF #2. We just had IVF #3 fail and we are now looking for more answers and plan to try again this summer.

The other day, on my way home from work, I had to stop at Tar.get to pick up one of MBL's prescriptions. I was feeling okay at this point, despite the fact that I knew I was not pregnant from our most recent IVF attempt. I decided to pick up a bottle of wine and a package of pads, along with the script and thought about how I should title a blog post about an infertile's shopping basket. Like, ha, it's so funny that I need both of those things (all right, I don't *need* wine, but getting a negative beta after spending $10,000 is bottle of wine worthy).

But, the truth is, it's not funny. Thursday did not turn out to be a good day. I cried on my way home after passing the local elementary school. All those moms waiting in their minivans, I bet a lot of them would find it hard to believe that I envy their life, their situation.

Thursday involved a lot of crying. There were some insensitive things done/said and dealing with them was really painful. And then MBL was acting distant because he himself was in a funk. At one point he got so worried about all the crying I was doing that he suggested I go back on my medication. That upset me even more! There is absolutely no shame in needing or taking depression medication, but I was grieving NOT depressed! Okay, maybe a little depressed, but isn't that how I should feel? If I denied the pain of our unpregnant-ness, then it would be like denying my right to grieve over a painful situation. No one would expect me to slap on a happy face if I had a migraine that medication couldn't fix, so why should I be expected to be all sunshine and rainbows when the "treatment" we chose for the DISEASE of infertility didn't work?

That's the thing, though, people just don't *get* that infertility is a disease. They don't want to address our pain, our sadness of failing to achieve what most of the American population takes for granted. Going out in a public is a testament to just how many people clearly had children without really thinking about what that meant. A few weeks ago, I was at Tar.get and the most adorable little boy was bouncing a ball down the aisle. It kept hitting his foot and rolling away. The mom's response? "If you don't stop doing that I am going to slap you silly." The little boy couldn't have been older than two. Too often it is insinuated that fertility is granted to those who deserve it most and, yet, the situation described above seems to contradict that. Heck, our situation seems to contradict that. I promise that a baby brought into our family would be one of the most smooched, most snuggled, and most treasured babies on the planet. I don't think I could accurately put into words just how loved our next little baby would be. Piper is smothered daily with our love and we just have more to give!

Basically, I want more. My heart literally aches for our next child. I just cannot wait to get my hands on him/her. I cannot wait to snuggle their little body and smooch their sweet face. It WILL happen, it's now just a matter of when. Just looking at this picture of our sweet Pip makes me want to do it all over again (and again and, potentially, again).

(taken over Halloween 2011)

What irks you most about people's misunderstanding of infertility? Has anything every been said to you that just made your blood boil? Have you ever encountered a situation like I did?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

a black and white dress

Roughly 20 months ago, I wore a black and white dress to my internship. It was a day I will always remember because it was the very first time in my whole life that I knew a nurse from my RE's office would be calling with good news. It was the first time I was going to hear "You're pregnant" from a medical professional. I drank a cherry root beer and celebrated with MBL. After 21 months, I was pregnant. Officially.

Today, I also wore a black and white dress. Albeit, a slightly different one. And I wore it with red heels, just to spice it up. BUT, when I came home from work, it was not with great anticipation or excitement. Instead, I picked up sushi and two beers from the grocery store. And a donut, just to balance things out.

In case you didn't gather from the above, this cycle is very likely a BFN. I say very likely because, due to a lab snafu, I did not get the official beta results today. Thank goodness I wasn't waiting on positive results!

We have a plan. Well, I have a plan and MBL has approved parts of it. He's been busy with work this week, so I haven't had a chance to really talk with him about all the gory details. So, I've asked him to go on a date with me Friday afternoon so that we can weigh all the options and really talk about what the best route is. Here are some of the things rolling around in my mind:

-MBL needs a sper.m DNA test. ASAP. It takes nearly a month to get the results back, so I'm hoping to send it out Friday.
-I plan on seeing a Reproductive Immunologist. There is one in the Chi.cago area, so it would be easy(ish) to travel to an appointment.
-We need to set up a consult with our current RE to see if he is (reasonably) confident that he can get us pregnant again. I mean our case doesn't seem THAT complicated, but I don't want to continue on with him if he is losing hope.
-I want to do a clo.mid/injectables IUI in May/June before I go on BCP for IVF again. It would give us one last less expensive chance at conceiving before forking over $10,00+ for IVF (again).

Have I mentioned lately that infertility sucks? Because it does.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

waiting it out

Today I am 10dpo or 5 days past my 5 day transfer. Today is the day on which I got my BFP with Piper. That won't be happening this time around as my stupid trigger has been lingering about. This morning involved trying to figure out if today's test looked the same or darker than yesterday's. Last time around my trigger was gone by 7dpo, so when I got a positive on 10dpo, I knew it was the real deal. This time around, I'm guessing that tomorrow's test will either be negative or have a faint positive that I can count on being real. If I don't have a second pink line by Tuesday (13dpo), then I will (more or less) know that we need to start talking about what comes next.

Speaking of that, while I've tried to stay focused on this current cycle, I can't help but think ahead to if it doesn't/didn't work. I wouldn't consider myself a Type A planner, but I do like to have a plan. Especially because I refuse to exit 2012 unpregnant. On our trip back to my parents' house from our transfer, I began googling like a mad woman. One of the biggest things I wanted to find out is why we would go from 8 healthy embryos on day three to only one on day five. And what I discovered is that it may not be my fault! Up until this cycle, we were beginning to think that maybe there was an issue with my eggs. And while I don't have a ton of time to waste, things are not as dire as we were led to believe. From my research I learned that embryo growth to day three has a lot to do with egg quality, but any problems that emerge from day three to day five may be the fault of the sperm. And, more specifically, it's DNA. There are a number of factors that can influence that DNA and MBL has red flags for nearly all of them. Some of them are lifestyle choices and others are simply biological. Having poor sperm DNA is bad news. Now, we have no idea if MBL has damage or not. We never got the DNA test because we assumed his male factor was under control by doing ICSI. From what I've read, though, this isn't the case. Sperm with bad DNA can still fertilize an egg and can still create growing embies. And here I thought I had read everything!

So, the basic plan is to keep testing and see what happens this cycle. If it's a BFN, MBL and I will fork over the $375 to see how his swimmers measure up. If it's a BFP, we will wait a while and then do the test at the end of the pregnancy.

I honestly have no idea what the outcome of this cycle is going to be. The only "symptom" I have is increased sense of smell. And that might be all in my head :). It would be awesome if I got a BFP. Just awesome. I guess we'll soon find out...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

we're the underdogs.

I meant to get on and write yesterday, but I was still struggling through my emotions. I'm not going to beat around the bush, when we went in for our five day transfer, we were told there was only one embryo still growing. One. Out of 12 eggs and 8 embryos, one was left on day five. This was not the news we were expecting.

Now that I have that out on the table, I'll back up. All weekend I was so nervous that they were going to call and tell me all my embryos were dead. When it passed 3:00pm on Saturday, I knew that meant there were still enough growing to warrant a five day transfer. I slept fitfully Sunday night, anticipating the worst, but hoping for the best. It stings to think of it now, but on our way to the clinic, MBL was telling me that he wanted the doc to put back three embryos. We were so hopeful. We got there 15 minutes ahead of our scheduled transfer time... Unfortunately, they were running behind so I had to wait more than 45 minutes with a painfully full bladder. We got into the transfer room and they got everything set up. The doctor then came in and gave us the news that we had one embryo still going and that was it. Apparently MBL saw him with the embryo picture before I did and wondered why there was only one. I, on the other hand, was completely blindsided. I could barely listen to or focus on anything the doctor said/asked from then on. One?

We asked about how the embryos had appeared on day three and he said all eight were still alive. They were at various stages of development, but they all still looked good. If they hadn't, he said, they would have had me come in that day. He said it was abnormal to have such a large drop off between day three and day five, that they expect to lose about half during that time. We lost seven out of eight. But, he went on to say that our one remaining embryo was still growing and had beat out all the other to make it that far, so he thought that was a great sign. He told us he thought it would go all the way.

I cried in the recovery room. Nurse Sue walked in and saw the tears streaming down my face and tried so hard to comfort me. She told me it looked like a great embryo and that she was certain I should be nothing but excited. I continued to quietly cry some more and MBL was just so sweet. He kept rubbing my hand and telling me it was okay. I'm tearing up just thinking about it. He kept looking at that lone embryo with such enthusiasm. He kept saying how cool it looked and how excited he was. After an hour of laying down, I was finally able to use the bathroom and we headed back to my parents' house. I did some googling on the way home and found some reassuring news. I discovered that for our transfer with Piper, there was basically only one embryo that stood a chance at making a baby (our 6 cell). So, I am trying to look at it as if that time we only transferred one last time as well :). IF we had gone into the transfer with two embryos, our chances of success would have been around 70-75%. Since we had just the one left, our chances are slightly decreased, but not by much. We are looking at a 50-65% chance of success. And what I keep trying to tell myself, is that at my age (26), the "guidelines" suggest transferring only one embryo on day five. So, really, we should be spot on.

I'm not going to lie, I'm sick and tired of getting disappointing news. MBL and I have been through a lot and I'm just kind of exhausted. That being said, I am still doing my best to remain positive. I don't think our odds were any better last time and we ended up with the most perfect little girl. So, here's hoping we get the same POSITIVE results ;).

Have you ever been put in an underdog type of situation and come out on top?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

the bees knees


I did not win the mil.lions as far as eggs go, but I came pretty darn close. We had our retrieval yesterday around 11:00am. I hate not being able to eat/drink after midnight, but it actually wasn't that bad. Because I had a huge Mexican dinner the night before, I wasn't even hungry. I always think the worst part is the thirst! My goodness I just wanted to have some water! When I was taken back for the actual procedure (about 2 minutes after we arrived), I told the anaestheologist that I was going to be a tough one. My veins are always hard to get and I knew that because I was dehydrated, it was going to be even harder. This is what happened:


She blew the vein on top of my right hand, miss the vein on the side, couldn't find the one at my elbow, and then finally moved over the left hand where she was able to get it in on top. Each time she poked me she put in the numbing medicine which stung like no other. When she finally got it in on the left hand, she told me that what she was injecting might "feel warm" and then admitted that she was sugar-coating it and it would probably hurt. I asked, "Is it going to hurt more than the four pokes you've given me?" And it didn't hurt at all, although at that point she had put something in my IV that was making me feel REALLY good. It seemed like I was being wheeled back out in no time and within an hour, the doc was coming to tell us that they had retrieved 12 eggs. He was impressed because that's one more than we retrieved 19 months ago even though I'm slightly older. My mature to retrieved egg ratio wasn't the greatest the last time, so he cautioned us that it might not be the best this time either, but that we would get a call today with the results.

Well, color me shocked! The nurse waited to call me until lunch time, which I was convinced was due to the fact that we were unable to produce any viable embryos or we only had 2-3, but that wasn't it at all. She told me that of the 12 eggs retrieved, 8 were mature and ALL EIGHT FERTILIZED. Last time we had 11 retrieved, 6 were mature, and 4 fertilized. We have twice as many embryos this time!!! As of right now, all eight are growing and she said we are doing five day transfer. My clinic has a 75% success rate with five day transfers. After she told me the results, she continued on with instructions and I had to have her repeat them to me because I was in such a state of shock. EIGHT EMBRYOS? It is likely that we will have two good ones to put back at day five :). As soon as I got off the phone, I ran upstairs and made MBL put his phone call on hold so that I could tell him the news. We're elated that we had better results this go around. Now, something could still happen and some of those embryos could arrest early and I could get moved to a three day transfer, it seems unlikely at this point, but it's still a possibility. And, Piper is a three day embryo, so we know those can work. At this point, I'm so hopeful for this cycle. And now the countdown to Monday begins!

Am I the only one out there who always assumes the worst case scenario? Do you ever get anxious when you see the RE's number on your phone? Has your cycle ever surprised you like mine just did?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

anything but average

My whole life I've felt like I was anything but average. I started Kindergarten at 4 instead of 5. I maintained a 4.1 GPA in high school. I got a high score on the ACT. Most of my life, I've been above average, I've done well and achieved a lot. I don't say this to toot my own horn, but more to give perspective on why I have such a hard time swallowing some aspects of our fertility journey. This is going to sound AWFUL, but when we were first diagnosed with male factor infertility, I was glad because that meant the problem wasn't with me. I could still pretend that my fertility was just fine and that I had (at the very least) average fertility. Our subsequent IVFs have revealed, however, that my fertility is anything but average.

The other night as I was struggling to fall asleep, I realized that I went through not one, but two IVF cycles at the age of 24. TWENTY FOUR. Now that's freakin' young. I cannot tell you how many times ultrasound techs/nurses asked if I was doing a donor cycle. HA!! The average time TTC for a 24 year old is three months. It took us 21. The chance of not conceiving over one year is 3%. Hmmm... I've been in the top 3% before, but not on the negative end of the statistic. So much for being above average, or even average, for that matter! Now? I'm anything but! I would guess that the average stim amount for someone my age (26) is usually between 200-300 units a night. Me? I need 450 units to get my ovaries to start going. Not normal. Not average.

Last week was rough. The meds have me on a roller coaster of emotions. One minute I'm thinking I'll be fine no matter how we build our family and the next I'm sobbing over the idea of not giving Piper a full biological sibling. Scared out of my noggin' that I'll never have a big ole preggo belly again. Scared that I'll have another chemical pregnancy.

For a while last week I was convinced that this cycle would either be a bust or that I'd end up with only 3 mature eggs. I had my first ultrasound on Thursday and the nurse measured 4 on the left and 7 on the right. Not bad, but not the greatest, either. My estradiol was only 499, which is behind where I was at this point with Piper. I tried to keep a brave face, but inside I was thinking about egg donors and embryo adoption. Convinced I was going to hit menopause next week. Then came Saturday. I had another ultrasound to see how things were going... I was nervous the whole time because I couldn't see the screen (they were using a new machine) and I was sure that the 11 they saw on Thursday had stopped growing or that I had ovulated. I finally asked how many follicles she saw and nearly fell over in elation when she said 22. TWENTY TWO!!! She saw 7 on my left ovary (over 8mm) alone. I told her that the nurse at the other clinic described my left ovary as lazy/sleepy and she said that's not the case at all!!! In fact, she said my ovaries look better than most patients she sees. Finally above average again :). Really, the only reason I'm beyond thrilled over this is the fact that if I have 22 measurable follicles (with more smaller than 8mm), then I do not have an antral count of 11 or 8. Which are two numbers I've been given over the past four months. Now, I will not get 22 mature eggs. It looks like right now I have between 8-13 good size follicles. They hope to get mature eggs from all of those follicles, but with my history, that is unlikely. Right now I am praying to have more than my highest count with IVF, which was 7. If I had 8 mature eggs, that would be the bees knees. If I had 10, I would feel better than if I had just won the Mill.ions lotto. For real. Who cares about millions of dollars? I want EGGS!!!

I have another ultrasound tomorrow and I'm looking forward to seeing how things have progressed over the last 48 hours. Right now they are estimating that my egg retrieval will be Wednesday, but we'll know for sure (more or less) tomorrow. I just hope that it all goes well! We are so close now!!