Saturday, October 15, 2011

Wave of Light: Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day

Saturday, October 15 was/is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. To honor those babies gone too soon, many of us participated in a "wave of light" by lighting candles at 7 pm in our time zone.

To mourn and honor the three babies we've lost, the Wacky Wicketeer and I named each one after a Saint, in the Greek Orthodox tradition of naming babies. Also in the Orthodox Christian tradition, we have icons of Saints in our home, mostly in an area set up specifically for prayer. The patron Saints of our angel babies are Athanasios, Barbara, and Cecilia. So far we have icons for Athanasios and Barbara, but have yet to find one for Cecilia. On their Name Days, we light a candle and say a prayer for their souls and ours. So we thought it appropriate that on this community-wide day of remembrance, we light three candles and say prayers for all affected by pregnancy or infant loss. (If you look closely at the photo, you'll see the icons of Saints Athanasios and Barbara on the left.)

Our wave of light.

So how do I feel about these losses? I still struggle on occasion to understand why. I struggle with dreams of who my babies may have become. But then I remind myself that the why doesn't matter, and that my babies are with God. This allows me to see His light in every baby--to see just how precious each one is. I can see Him shining through in their little faces, and feel connected to all my babies, past, present, and future.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Five Snowflakes

The thing about IVF is that it's relatively unpredictable. Most people who haven't been through it don't realize the combination of steps and gambles, twists and turns, along the way. We just had one of these happen to us. Fortunately, it may be a blessing in disguise.

First of all, I've mentioned before that I was overstimmed during my first IVF, which was likely the cause of my low egg maturity rate, and that my stim dosages were decreased this time, in an attempt to avoid overstimulation. Well, it seems to have worked! IVF #1: 21 sizeable follicles, 19 eggs retrieved, 8 mature, 5 embryos after fertilization with ICSI. IVF #2: 9 sizeable follicles, 11 eggs retrieved, 7 mature, 5 embryos after fertilization with ICSI. So you can see that the success rate at each step has been higher.

Today was the third day after egg retrieval (which by the way, was curiously more painful this time). We learned from the Embryologist that all 5 embryos are still growing, although one is slacking. A healthy embryo should be 6 or more cells by this point. Today we had a 9-cell, two 8-cells, a 7-cell, and a 5-cell. If my memory is correct, with IVF #1, we had an 8 cell, three 6-cells and a 5-cell. So the theme of higher success rates at each step of IVF #2 is continuing!

This IVF cycle has been more complicated because we want to do preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) at the day 5 stage, instead of day 3 like last time. In IVF #1, we had a single-cell biopsy done of our embryos at day 3, to test them for a severe chromosomal abnormality, and hopefully prevent another miscarriage. The results came back on day 5, and we had one competent embryo. Two tested as incompetent, and two were inconclusive. Unfortunately, the two that were inconclusive had already ceased growing on their own, or we would have given them a try.

A day 5 biopsy collects more than one cell for testing, and it takes longer to get the results. But it's also more accurate. However, it does require freezing. So our first plan for IVF #2 was to do a freeze-all cycle. But then, considering that we could easily end up with only 1 or 2 embryos to test at day 5, and that the 5-day growth process culls some of the genetically incompetent embryos anyway, we decided to have a back-up plan of preparing for an embryo transfer. In the case that we ended up with only 1 or 2 embryos at day 5, doing PGS seemed pretty pointless. But the result has been that I have had to prepare for both circumstances - a freeze-all, and a day 5 transfer. Having to explain this over and over again to confused nurses was no picnic.

Today, when the Embryologist called with our day 3 results, I was so relieved when she said we still have all five. If we had already been down to 1 or 2 poor-grade embryos, we would have gone in for a transfer today, and I am still in pain from my egg retrieval on Thursday, so I really don't feel ready to get pregnant. I was already getting worried about the very realistic possibility I would need to do a transfer on Tuesday, wondering if I would still be in pain. But, she also had some surprising news.

The Embryologist told me that they always grow a batch of mouse embryos to test the culture medium and lab environment, and that all her mouse embryos had just died. She needed to pull all embryos out of culture. In other words, they all had to be either transferred or frozen. So we froze all five of our embryos. The more accurate term would be "cryogenically preserved", but "froze" is easier to type.

Of course, the idea of something being seriously wrong in my embabies' first nursery concerns me, but I couldn't be happier with the Embryologist's response time, and her focus on saving them. The amazing part is this feels like a blessing. My body does not feel ready to become pregnant right now. This will give me a few weeks to feel completely healthy again.

So when will we get PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise-describing my state after an embryo is transferred)? Probably anywhere from late September to late October. Vague enough for you? I'll write more about what that part will entail in a later post. For now, we have five snowflake babies resting peacefully. Please pray for them and for us!

As always, please feel free to ask any questions. This often seems like science-fiction to me, but at this point I've probably become so familiar with it, I brush over some points that need explained. No question is too simple.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Spa Professionals

It has been awhile since I've done a Thankful Thursday post, but as I was getting a massage earlier this week, it occurred to me that I don't know what I'd do without my spa professionals!

I'm thankful for my aestheticians - the ones that regularly wax my eyebrows, and the one that gave me my first ever facial this week! It was just a mini-facial, but it made me feel great. Thank God for the aestheticians that allow me to focus on me, and make me feel beautiful in the process.

Most of all, I'm thankful for massage therapists! They work magic with their hands and arms, kneading the stress out of my shoulders and back, soothing tired, aching arms and legs, and finding tension points I didn't know existed in my hands and feet. I have had some massage therapists that were absolutely heaven-sent. I'm thankful that these skilled people found their way to this profession, where they spend their time and energy helping the rest of us simply feel better.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Freakout: Bad Clinic Behavior

I don’t understand why IVF clinics aren’t more sensitive to what their patients are going through. I don’t understand why they aren’t more careful to ensure they don’t stress us out more than we already are, and why they don’t make the effort to provide us with more information and greater transparency, so that we can have some sense of trust and control in a situation where we are vulnerable and powerless.
Photo by takomabibelot

The Wacky Wicketeer and I have been patients at three clinics in Northern California. Here are some of the stressful mistakes we have encountered:
·        Failed to diagnose me properly
·        Failed to inform us of miscarriage risks to IUI due to our diagnosis
·        Miscalculated dates on IUI protocol calendar
·        Made us wait over an hour in the waiting room, making our appointment over an hour late (multiple occasions, and multiple clinics)
·        Miscalculated prescription quantity
·        Mishandled post-miscarriage fetal tissue
·        Improperly tested post-miscarriage fetal tissue
·        Lied about limitations of genetic testing of post-miscarriage fetal tissue
·        Failed to return phone calls (multiple occasions, and multiple clinics)
·        Failed to respond to emails (multiple occasions, and multiple clinics)
·        Talked to me like I was an idiot for asking about the safety of progesterone suppositories during pregnancy, after I had already miscarried once while on them
·        Delayed submitting my prescriptions to the specialty mail-order pharmacy until the last minute (I only received them 18 hours before I had to use them because I spent two days on the phone yelling and pleading with people)
·        Failed to timely submit an insurance claim
·        Minimized & failed to warn me about potential recovery time after egg retrieval
·        Delayed my cycle start date by a week for a non-medical reason after we had already rescheduled work, work travel, and numerous other activities
·        Tried to delay my cycle start date by a week for a non-medical reason a SECOND TIME, after we had already re-rescheduled everything around the first change
·        Delayed giving me dates for an injection class until a week before, such that I couldn’t go because I already had bought plane tickets, conference passes, and made reservations for an out-of-town conference
·        Failed to give me a pre-emptive pain med prescription for the most painful experience of my life
·        Failed to provide thorough information on costs and insurance coverage for IVF
·        Failed to provide an information packet of any sort on how that clinic does IVF
·        Lack of transparency as to staffing changes that may be occurring during a cycle

I have received apologies--from a newly-hired nurse for rescheduling, and from a doctor for my painful experience. I still see that nurse and doctor. Nothing else on this list has been corrected or apologized for. For a service that we gamble tens of thousands of dollars on, and that requires us to substantially rearrange our lives for a painful, mere attempt, at having children, the very beneficiaries of our struggle, the fertility clinics, should be more conscientious of how their mistakes and behavior affect us.

The larger, immediate problem when these sorts of mistakes occur is that it strikes at the heart of an in-progress IVF cycle (or other treatment). It makes us doubt the very people that are supposed to be important members of our team. For me, the single thing that most influences my anxiety level during an IVF cycle is my faith and trust in my fertility team. That includes my clinic staff, nurses, embryologists, doctors, phlebotomists, pharmacists and geneticists, as well as my husband. While other people can be supportive and helpful during an IVF cycle, if they aren’t, I can block them out while in-cycle. I can’t block out this group. I need them, and I need them to be reliable and trustworthy.

I know we’re not the only ones, so what clinic mistakes and issues have added to your infertility stress?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

BlogHer Recap Part 1: Vacation, Expo & Parties

BlogHer is basically a summer camp for grown up girls who like to be on the internet. I mean this in a very, very, good way. Don’t get me wrong, the Wacky Wicketeer had a great time too, but he is not the target demographic. This year, BlogHer was in San Diego. Just a plane-hop from home!

Since we decided to make it a vacation for him and travel as a couple, the Wacky Wicketeer and I arrived in San Diego Thursday morning. I did not register for PathfinderDay because I found out about too late, after we had already made our plans. Also because it cost more money. Fortunately, we were able to check into the hotel early, so we dropped off our luggage, and figured out how we could take public transit to the Hotel del Coronado. Our hotel room at the Marriott was awesome, and from the 22nd floor, we had a great view. But the Hotel del Coronado is a landmark that has been around since the 19th Century, and is a work of art in wood.

View from our room at the Marriott
Hotel del Coronado

We spent the rest of the day on Coronado Island, checking out the hotel, having lunch on their deck, and enjoying the beach. And that was my last meal we paid for until Sunday.
Beach on Coronado Island

Expo and Parties

That night the conference really began, with a series of three parties. I had obtained an Expo and Cocktail Pass (a.k.a. the Party Pass) for the Wacky Wicketeer so he could attend these events with me, and each night there were three more parties. All had complimentary food, and we had received drink tickets with our conference badges, so the parties alone made up for the cost of our conference admission.
The Expo was awesome. And huge. And full of giveaways. One woman’s junk was another woman’s swag, and thanks to the swag exchange room, we could take and leave accordingly! The Wacky Wicketeer (a.k.a. the Digital Emperor) was ready to pass out from the effort of trying to consume every ice cream, lasagna, sausage, and other food product being offered at the Expo. Referring to these samples, he called it “Costco on steroids!” Thank goodness there was dedicated time for it on Thursday, because otherwise I would not have had a chance to see most of it. Thanks to the Expo, we got to meet the Pine Sol Lady and the Swiffer Dust guy (on Thursday), not to mention Bob Harper and Giuliana Rancic (on Saturday).

As for the actual parties, they were pretty fun. Though I was pretty disappointed in the first night, Friday and Saturday made up for it. Thursday nights’ parties had pretty bland food. The others were an improvement. My favorite party was Sparklecorn, and you can see the awesome unicorn cake in last week’s Wordless Wednesday post. If the Expo was Costco on steroids, Sparklecorn was girl power on steroids! It was all about unicorns, sparkle, and glow-in-the-dark sticks. The DJ was the best I’ve heard in a long time, and we had a great time dancing the night away! There were also giant, soft pretzels, which I love. Saturday night’s parties were unique and fun, but by the time we got to Cheeseburgher, I was ready to pass out from exhaustion. So we gave away the rest of our drink tickets, and called it a conference.
Fireworks while at the Social Fiesta

The coolest part about the parties was that I got to meet some great bloggers and tweeps that I already knew online: Maya, Dresden, MrsLaLa, and Dead Cow Girl, to name just a few! A highlight was Dresden, upon first meeting us, saying to the Wacky Wicketeer, “wow, you’re cute!” She made him blush and me giggle!

Come back soon to read about Friday and Saturday’s conference sessions!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Freakout: IVF Meds

I’m calling this post a “Friday Freakout” as a tribute to the fact that my greatest psychological challenge is anxiety. It rots my gut on a regular basis.

So guess what? We’re there. Where? IVF number 2. I started my morning injections of Lupron on Thursday, and start stimming next Thursday night. My protocol is 10iu of Lupron daily until next Thursday, then drop it to 5iu, and add 225iu daily of Follistim. My last birth control pill is tomorrow, so CD 1 should be about next Tuesday. I’m also taking Metformin, prenatal vitamins, DHA, CoQ10, and extra calcium and vitamin D, but these are all oral pills. Only the Follistim and Lupron are injections.

On August 26th I’ll go in for a monitoring ultrasound, and my RE will decide whether to schedule me to trigger, or have me continue on Lupron and Follistim longer and return for another ultrasound before triggering. Our first IVF, we had a low percentage of the total eggs retrieved that had triggered properly. My understanding of the trigger is that it tells the eggs it’s time to go from 46 to 23 chromosomes, so they can be fertilized. My RE thinks it didn’t work on a lot of them because they had grown too fast. In other words, I was “over-stimmed”.

Even though we had a single, genetically competent, girl embryo that made it to transfer, since she didn’t implant and we didn’t have any others make it to blastocyst stage for freezing, that cycle was a total bust. The only thing it did was give us very expensive clinical data showing we end up with a lot of chromosomally abnormal sperm and eggs, thus conceiving chromosomally abnormal embryos. That is, when they are able to actually conceive.

This time, my dosage of Follistim has been decreased, and an additional stim dropped entirely, with the hope that this will allow more of my eggs to mature a little slower, and properly trigger. This is what we are now hoping and praying for virtually every day.

I’ve also decided that I’m going to learn how to give myself the injections this cycle. That does not mean I will actually be doing them all myself. Nurse Stepmom is again generously giving me my injections, but I’m going to have her teach me how. I’ll do a couple under her tutelage, on the off chance I get stuck having to do it myself. But until that happens, I’m having her do it! I haven’t had pain or a bruise from any of these injections yet, and I firmly believe I owe that to her expertise and skill! This process is stressful enough without having to stab myself every day.

And no, the Wacky Wicketeer is not allowed near my shots. You see, my big, strong husband is afraid of needles. Despite this fact, he grudgingly said to me one day, “I guess I could try giving you a shot.” I replied with a firm, “no way!” I love him for wanting to help, but what I don’t need is a husband passed out on the floor and me still standing there, having to stab myself.

Finally, I promised my tweeps (friends on Twitter, for those who aren’t) that I would share another use for the insulated bags Dove gave us at BlogHer ‘11. Here it is: Transporting our IVF meds that are supposed to be refrigerated! Hey, if it’s good enough for ice cream…

If you have any questions about anything I’ve discussed in this post, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Sparklecorn

My BlogHer '11 Experience - Mere shadows
against the sparkly backdrop of woman & blogger power!

The Sparklecorn '11 cake! A variety of perspectives at BlogHer '11.
 Photo by Aurelia Cotta.

Monday, August 8, 2011

On Frequent Blogging and BlogHer '11

Most of you know that I spent much of the last five days in San Diego at BlogHer '11. The Wacky Wicketeer went with me and it was awesome! It was also a lesson in sleep deprivation for me. On the other hand, the Wacky Wicketeer got to sleep all day while I was at the sessions. I'm planning additional posts on our experiences while we were down there, but I'm still waiting to get my hands on some pics that were taken.

Before heading to BlogHer, I read that it was important to identify my primary purpose for attending.  Mine was to gain knowledge and inspiration for becoming a more frequent blogger. To that end, I've learned about editorial calendars, prioritizing, memes, and all sorts of helpful tools! Today I even started my own blog editorial calendar. I'm hoping this will help me to better honor your investment in reading this blog.

One of the other things I realized along the way is that I've been making my blog design too complicated. So, you should see some changes soon that will hopefully make it a little easier to read, and give it a cleaner feel.

Before I sign off tonight, I'll leave you with a pic that was a highlight of my trip: meeting Bob Harper, the trainer from The Biggest Loser!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Cop-out from Blogging About the Rest of My IVF Cycle

Obviously, I need to finish blogging about my IVF cycle, but I don't feel like it yet. So I grabbed this from Rocket City Rebel's Tumblr site:

Reblog and bold what applies to you.
• I’m loud.
• I’m sarcastic.
I cry easily.
I have a bad temper.
I’m easy to get along with.
• I have more enemies than friends.
I’ve smoked. (Twice in college)
I drink coffee. (Down to a cup a day instead of 12!)
• I clean my room daily.

My appearance:
I wear makeup. (If I’m leaving the house.)
I wear a piece of jewelry at all times. (Except in water, I inevitably at least have on earrings or my wedding ring)
• I wear contacts.
I wear glasses.
• I have braces.
• I change my hair color often.
• I have a piercing.
• I have small feet.

I’m in a relationship now. 
• I’m single.
I’m crushin’. (On the same person I'm in a relationship with! Yes, I know that's cheesy.)
I’ve missed an ex before.
I’m always scared of being hurt.
• I’ve told someone I loved them when I didn’t.
• I’ve told someone I didn’t love them when I did.
I’ve been in love more than two times.
I believe in love at first sight.

I have a best friend.
• I have at least ten REAL friends. (I have lots of IRL friends, but my criteria for what is a REAL friend is rather stringent.)
I’ve gotten a phone call in the last 48 hours from a friend.
I’ve beaten up a friend.
I’ve been in a serious fight with a friend.
• I can trust at least five people with my life.

I’ve been on a plane.
I’ve taken a taxi.
I’ve taken a city bus.
I’ve taken a school bus.
I’ve made a speech.
I’ve been in some sort of club.
I’ve won an award.
• I’ve spent 24 hours on the computer straight.

I listen to R&B.
I listen to pop.
I listen to techno.
I listen to rock.
I’m one of those people who play songs repeatedly until I hate it.
I download music.
• I buy CD’s. (Not anymore)

• I spend at least six hours a day watching television. 
I’m in love with Days Of Our Lives.
• I’ve seen and liked the O.C.
• I’ve seen and liked One Tree Hill.
• I’ve seen and liked America’s Next Top Model.
I’ve seen and liked CSI.

Family Life:
I get along with both of my parents.
• My biological parents are still together.
• I have at least one brother.
I have at least one sister.
I’ve been kicked out of the house.
• I’ve ran away from my home.
• I’ve sworn at my parents.
I’ve made my parents cry.

Whoa, that section on Family Life was a little weird!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

To My Future Children

A song came on the radio when I started my last post, that made me feel like it should be dedicated from me to my five embies, as my future children (and made me cry-or maybe that was the progesterone I'm on). It's an 80's song called "The Promise", by When in Rome. Of course it wasn't written for this purpose-It's a romantic love song, but it strikes a chord in me right now. Here are the lyrics, and the music video:

If you need a friend,
don't look to a stranger,
You know in the end,
I'll always be there.

And when you're in doubt,
and when you're in danger,
Take a look all around,
and I'll be there.

I'm sorry, but I'm just thinking of the right words to say. (I promise)
I know they don't sound the way I planned them to be. (I promise)
But if you wait around a while, I'll make you fall for me,
I promise, I promise you I will.

When your day is through,
and so is your temper,
You know what to do,
I'm gonna always be there.

Sometimes if I shout,
it's not what's intended.
These words just come out,
with no gripe to bear.

I'm sorry, but I'm just thinking of the right words to say. (I promise)
I know they don't sound the way I planned them to be. (I promise)
But if you wait around a while, I'll make you fall for me,
I promise, I promise you...

I'm sorry, but I'm just thinking of the right words to say. (I promise)
I know they don't sound the way I planned them to be. (I promise)
And if I had to walk the world, that make you fall for me,
I promise you, I promise you I will.
I gotta tell ya, I need to tell ya, I gotta tell ya, I gotta tell yaaaa ...

I'm sorry, but I'm just thinking of the right words to say. (I promise)
I know they don't sound the way I planned them to be. (I promise)
But if you wait around a while, I'll make you fall for me,
I promise you, I promise you...

I'm sorry, but I'm just thinking of the right words to say. (I promise)
I know they don't sound the way I planned them to be. (I promise)
And if I have to walk the world to make you fall for me,
I promise you, I promise you I will ...
I will...
I will...
I will...

The IVF Experience: Egg Retrieval through Day 3

We last left off at the HCG "trigger" injection. I used to think the sole purpose of the HCG was to make you ovulate, so I wondered what it's use was in an IVF cycle, when they don't want you to ovulate before they retrieve the eggs. It turns out it also tells your eggs to switch from 46 to 23 chromosomes-an important step if you want room for the 23 chromosomes a sperm will add!

Thirty-five hours after triggering, I had my egg retrieval (ER). This entailed not eating or drinking anything-not even water-from 5 in the morning until my retrieval just after noon. The water was absolutely the toughest part of that! At the clinic, I filled out more forms, changed into a hospital gown, hairnet, and booties. I was allowed to keep my bra and socks on, so I wore my special silly socks to help keep my spirits up and my feet warm!  Besides, other than your hoohah, your feet and calves are what your surgery team ends up seeing most of the time, and you want them in a good mood!

Nurse "Sweet" was my prep and recovery nurse, and first she tried to put the catheter in my hand for the IV. It didn't go so well. So, the anesthesiologist, Dr. "Silent" took care of it, hooked me up, then walked me into the OR. As I'm climbing onto the table and swinging my knees up over the stirrups, I'm already feeling like I've had a couple drinks, and frankly, I don't even remember laying down, that sedation worked so fast! I do remember asking my main IVF Nurse, Nurse "Mellow" if she liked my socks! She said yes, they're great!

Next thing I knew, I was feeling awesome and back on my original gurney, and I just really wanted to keep sleeping, but Nurse Sweet insisted I had to wake up! I vaguely remember telling her and maybe someone else in the room they they all did a great job, that it was awesome, that they were awesome and I loved them all, and that I would bake them zucchini bread. I was probably quite entertaining, but hopefully welcome comic relief after the cranky patient I overheard before me.

While I was asleep, here's what my team was supposedly doing: The RE takes a long needle, and using a speculum and an ultrasound machine, inserts it into the vagina, through the vaginal wall, and into each mature follicle in each ovary. Dr. Analytical said he retrieved 19 eggs, so that would be 19 follicles. Fun, eh?

After a brief recovery period, I was sent home with painkillers and instructions to take it easy, not immerse myself in water, lift more than 10 lbs, have sex, or get my heart rate over 120 for two weeks, among other things. Pre-op was at 11:45, ER at about 12:45, and I was home at 3:30.

The next afternoon, Nurse Mellow called to give me the fertilization report. Out of 19 eggs, I only had 8 that were mature. This was a big drop to start this process with, and I was horribly disappointed, not to mention still in physical pain. Only five had fertilized, with a sixth runt that was a possibility. This made me cry. Looking forward, I knew we still had to get to Day 3, then through genetic screening, and to Day 5, for transfer or freezing. Then, of course, there's my history of pregnancy loss. All those hurdles seem awfully daunting with 5, maybe 6 embryos. (Not to mention-only 8 out of 19 were mature?! No wonder we're infertile!)

Today we got our Day 3 report, and while number 6 didn't make it, the other 5 did! We have another one falling a little behind, but still ok. Ideally, they want 6 or more cells on Day 3, and when Nurse Mellow called me this morning, she said number five only had 5 cells. However, three of my embies were already up to 7, and one of them even had 8 cells! This is blessed news!

So, we still have five embies growing like the little stubborn warriors we know they are. Please continue to send them your prayers, good vibes, and well-wishes. As their mother, I know they can feel the love, as do the Wacky Wicketeer and I.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The IVF Experience: Through Trigger

Here's where I start to give you the details about what this IVF cycle entails. At the moment, I'm frankly a little buzzed on a prescription painkiller my RE gave me after egg retrieval, so please, bear with me!

The first part of preparing for IVF is down-regulating. Particularly with PCOS, the woman's hormones need to be under control prior to starting stimulation. To accomplish this, Dr. Analytical had me go on birth control pills (BCPs) in December. On a Wednesday in mid-February, I started daily injections of Lupron, which does a lot of things, but mostly suppresses estrogen production. Thus, side effects are like a mini-menopause: hot flashes, fatigue, headaches, etcetera. At the same time as the Lupron, I started taking Dexamethasone, to help suppress my immune system. The next Monday, I stopped BCPs, and Aunt Flo officially began my cycle that Wednesday.

I had to get my estrogen level tested the next day to make sure that I was properly suppressed, which I was, with estradiol at 25. So I was on course to start stim injections the following week, which included Follistim and Luveris.

You might be noticing that there are a lot of injections involved. Most women either do these themselves, or have their husband or partner do them. However, the Wacky Wicketeer has a tendency to faint at the sight of needles, and while he nonetheless offered to try, I decided that I did not want a passed-out husband on my hands while going through this. The idea of doing them myself totally stressed me out, but I'm fortunate enough to have a Stepmom that is a nurse! So, she was kind enough to arrange twice-daily injections with me.

After a week of stims, I had my monitoring appointment, which included an ultrasound and another estradiol test. My estradiol was 3500, my uterine lining was 9.5, and I had 21 follicles ranging from 12 to 21 mm, with most of them in the 15 to 18 mm range. Dr. Analytical said I responded perfectly to the stims, that it looked great, and we should stop stims, trigger, and schedule egg retrieval for Wednesday - 2 days ahead of schedule!
So we did.

We had to administer the trigger injection - Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG), a.k.a. the pregnancy hormone - at 1:45 in the morning! So, Stepmom stayed overnight, and we got up in the middle of the night to get it done.

Next up, the scary part: Egg Retrieval!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

How we got to IVF & Current Status

Last year, after going through two miscarriages at about 8 weeks, I had a bazillion tests done to see what could be wrong. We found nothing. No uterine factors, no immunology issues, no clotting factors, no infection. The Wacky Wicketeer and I were both karyotyped after the first miscarriage, which showed that we, ourselves, had no major chromosome defect that might be contributing to the loss. My general practitioner did find that I had a severe vitamin D deficiency. However, my Reproductive Endocrinologists (REs) would not attribute my losses to this factor. (Despite the fact that there are recent studies coming out showing a possible relationship between uterine lining and vitamin D.) Go here for more information on causes of Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL):

We were very disappointed in the attention and lack of customer service we were receiving at our first clinic. So, we went to a new one last fall.

Our new RE, Dr. "Analytical", diagnosed me with a mild form of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). You can learn more about PCOS here: PCOS is a syndrome, thus it occurs on a spectrum. At my end of the spectrum, I still ovulate regularly, but my eggs are immature and/or poor quality.

Dr. Analytical has a theory that, between poor-quality eggs caused by PCOS, and abnormal sperm, as exemplified by the Wacky Wicketeer's abnormal sperm morphology, we end up with a non-viable embryo on the rare occasions that sperm actually fertilizes egg. This then results in a pregnancy loss.

Dr. Analytical has explained to us that our best chance at having a biological child is through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) with Intra-cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) and genetic screening. In this way, we are the most likely to become pregnant with a viable embryo.

So, here we are. We decided to do IVF with ICSI and genetic screening, and are now in the midst of treatment. It is a trying process, and we are attempting to approach it with grace, with respect for our marriage, and with love for the embryos conceived in the process. I'll explain more of the details in another post, but for now, know that we have five, maybe six, embryos in their first home at the clinic, each fighting to grow. Please send them, and us, your prayers, hope, love, luck, and well-wishes. Thanks in advance, and lots of babydust to those looking for it!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Break-In

So, I suppose I should give some explanation of my Wordless Wednesday post last week. Basically, while the Wacky Wicketeer and I were out on our Valentines' date last Sunday night, our house was broken into.

On the one hand, we were very fortunate that they didn't take a LOT more than they did. The value of what was taken barely meets our deductible, so it's not even worth the postage to file a claim with the insurance company. We made our police report, and that's enough.

On the other hand, we feel violated and physically insecure. Especially me. And really, really irritated that a family heirloom jade ring, my childhood coin collection, and my laptop were all stolen (amongst other things). It's really difficult to rebuild your calendar, writing, blog artwork, contact information, and to recreate the numerous lists you use when you are an obsessive planner like I am. Oh, and not to mention the mounds of laundry I had to do because I couldn't stand the thought of wearing my clothes after the burglars had put their grimey hands all over them, rifled through them and pulled them out all over the bedroom. Yeesh.

I think it suffices to say, once your house is robbed, you are not only extra vigilant, but you increase the home's security. When we arrived home and saw doors open, I think we both had a moment when we held our breath, expecting the worst. We were lucky the first hit was a small one. It brought our attention to the security of our home, and now we can prevent the very thing we thought had happened.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Oh, Dear, It's Been Awhile!

Somehow, two and a half months have passed without a post! I think I am struggling against a mental block, wanting to finish my description of everything I've been through in the last couple of years, but at the same time, not wanting to think about it too much.

Right now, I can say that I was depressed last year. Pretty much the whole year, with only a couple days where things seemed bright and the fog briefly parted. I think those closest to me could see the evidence of it: My lack of productivity, my more frequently messy house, my need for escapism.

The new year has brought with it a new attitude for me. I think it provided a mechanism by which I could divide the sadness and horrors of the last year from the bright future I hope for. I knew I had successfuly moved out of my depression when, on January 11, I suddenly realized that I had passed the anniversary of my physical loss of my first baby five days prior, and had completely missed it. These anniversaries are normally days of deep reflection and sadness for me. But here, I had passed right by it!

For me, that was a sign. I will never forget what it was like to be joyfully pregnant with those two babies, as brief as my time of joy was. The Wacky Wicketeer and I will memorialize them in our own way every year on their Greek Saints' name days. But, I am no longer in mourning. I am optimistic, and happy. I have Hope again.