Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Early Days of a BFP

Things have certainly been exciting the last 4 days since we found out our first beta was positive. Dh and I have told both sets of our parents, who are both guardedly optimistic at this time. We also told our brothers and sisters, and some of them seem incredibly excited even though we warned them that it is still very early.

At first I was very wary of telling anyone besides our immediate families, but then we decided that most likely this will be our only pregnancy. We need to try to enjoy it for as long as it lasts. So, we told our closest friends; the chosen few who have listened to us whine and cry about IF all of these years.

We told another couple who shared the story of their IVF journey 18 years ago with us quite some time ago. They went to the same dr that dh and I have been working with, and conceived on their first FET after their first IVF. I will say it is amazing to hear how different IVF was then as opposed to now. OMG, they were in tears with joy and happiness. I never knew they were such emotional people.

As I said earlier, it's still very early and I'm only 5 weeks today. My beta results yesterday weren't as good as we had hoped. They were only 961. If they had doubled every two days,which is ideal, they should have been 1161. So, I have to go in for more b/w on Friday. The good news is that the levels are still going up. They rose 82%. According to the other dr in the practice, if they rise more than 66%, then there is an 85% chance that things are going to be okay.

The bad news is that another gifted teacher from my district was in the waiting room at the RE's office yesterday. Since the labe was behind, I had to wait in the waiting room for over an hour before my blood was drawn. Which of course meant that I was left having to make small talk with the gifted teacher who ended up seated right beside me in the very cramped waiting room, with her mother and toddler in tow.

So, I have to wait four days for more news. At this point, I can only hope that the levels rise enough on Friday for things to be okay.

My exciting find of the day:

Olive oil on a paper towel will in fact remove the sticky gray residue that estrogen patches leave behind. In fact, only minimal rubbing is necessary. It's just wierd for your body to smell like something you cook with until you get a chance to wash it off.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Finally! A BFP!

Yesterdays beta result was 387! I am in shock.

T and I were in Smokey Bones, a BBQ restaurant, having lunch when the call came. I answered rather hesitantly, but figured I've played this beta game 7 times before with IUIs. I hoped that I could "suck it up" and be a big girl if the news was once again bad.

The call was from the nurse IVF coordinator, and it began a little differently from my previous calls. The first few seconds I didn't even breathe, wondering if the difference was only that the news was coming from a different person after a more expensive and intense procedure.

Then, the nurse asked, "Did you cheat?"

I adamently told her that in fact, I did not use an hpt. I was too much of a wimp, afraid of seeing no line or only a faint one.

Then she told me, "You are very pregnant. Your beta result was 387. There is a possibility of twins."

I return on Monday to see if the numbers are rising, and if that result is good then an u/s will be scheduled. I am barely over 4 weeks, so it is still so early. However, it is amazing that we have made it this far.

The rest of the afternoon resulted in a hectic rush. I hadn't reordered my meds, and I was out of estrogen patches. My progesterone is a compounded cottonseed variety, and it had to be reordered Friday to be ready on Monday, since I will be out after Sunday night's injection.

So right now I'm just trying to stay calm and hope that things still look good on Monday.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Estrogen Patch Fun

Starting 8 days after retrieval, I had to begin applying two estrogen patches, which had to be changed every three days. At first, I was afraid that keeping up with this schedule was going to be too complicated.

However, I have come to find that the greatest inconvenience isn't keeping up with the schedule. The first challenge is finding a site to place these patches so that they won't be seen for three days in public regardless of my plans. This can be a tricky proposition in the middle of summer, especially when low rise styles are so popular. These oh so gorgeous, clear little rectangles can only be worn on the belly, the buttocks, or the front of the thighs. Strategic placement is a necessity or else someone will see them and think that perhaps I'm wearing two of those birth control patches.

I've come to learn though that removing those lovely little estrogen patches is even grosser. First of all, when you remove the patch an obvious little rectangle of one's epidermis is yanked off, leaving a not quite ready patch of skin naked and exposed. Even more disgusting is the persistant, gray patch of gummy adhesive remaining around the perimeter of the patch. What a lovely mix of dead skin cells, lint, and glue is left, and this stuff is resistant to soap and water or even a good scrub with an alcohol wipe. The gray sticky remains must be physically scraped off of the body, and even then signs still remain as evidence of the patch's former placement.

Once, years ago, I was at a water park and saw someone whose birth control patch was visible on her leg due to poor future planning and placement. I can not for the life of me understand why someone would choose a birth control patch as a method of family planning. I could not commit to dealing with this gray, gummy grime once a week for months and years on end. I suppose it is great for people who can't remember to associate popping a pill with a regular event in her daily schedule. I guess the patch is a kind of birth control for idiots, and all of us in the infertile world know way too many idiots who could use some help in reducing their number of offspring.

So, perhaps sticky horomone coated patches can in fact be a good thing.

Two More Days...

First of all today is my 9th wedding anniversary. I can't tell you how many times I have almost forgotten this fact, since it seems as though the day has been trumped by the whirlwind of this IVF cycle.

My first thought in regards to this anniversary is that I can't believe I am so old! Nine years...

Nine years of dealing with dh's inevitable, multiple sports accidents involving the emergency room. During this time we've also survived the stress of me earning my Master's Degree, the beginning stages of cervical cancer well past dysplasia, two surgeries endometriosis, six months of Lupron induced pseudomenopuase, three cycles of clomid, three clomid/IUI cycles, injection classes, four Gonal-F/IUI cycles, multiple visits to the REs office that reduced me to tears, and an IVF.

Talk about "in sickness and in health." I don't know how my dh has managed to hang through it all and be there for me. For almost two years he managed to be off for all of my multiple pap smears to check to see if the cancer was really gone, because I was too scared to go alone, until the day finally came that he had to get a new job because his female boss felt inferior to him with her lesser education and began to cause difficulties. Ironically the difficulties she created actually stemmed from an on the job injury. If only I had been older, and more experienced with dirty politics so many others play, so that I could have been a help to him for a change.

But, here we are now. Two days from finding out if this IVF cycle worked. I hope that my dh isn't left with yet another situation where he has to be my backbone. He has already prevented me from being little more than a puddle on the floor on multiple occassions.

Dh was talking with one of his coworkers today who did an IVF cycle a year and a half ago: one that worked. He's been so worried about my knots and welts from these PIO shots, and he's afraid he's done something wrong. Thankfully, she was able to give him some reassurance that the same thing happened to her. She told him that after only a short time her husband had to start injecting through those knots. Lovely.

But, she also told him about how convinced she was that her own cycle had failed. Supposedly she had experienced no signs or symptoms. She wasn't bloated, her breasts didn't hurt, and she felt all too normal. However, she came out of the cycle with a bfp. She wasn't even working with my drs office, but instead was dealing with the university clinic that has much lower IVF success stats.

So, perhaps I shouldn't give up hope yet. Maybe I can get myself pulled together so that we can go out and do something tonight. We have a lot to celebrate. I don't think too many relationships would have made it nine years through some of the obstacles that we have experienced.

Let's just see what curve ball life has to throw us next.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Today is a better day

I have pulled myself together again today. Perhaps I was just freaked out yesterday by the Father's Day drama on Sunday.

Still... Three more PIO shots before beta day. Could have been only two if dh hadn't been so insistent that we do the beta on Friday.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Realizing Friday Probably Won't Be A Happy Day

So, I've spent the last week and a half wondering if maybe my embryos stuck around. I've actually wondered if I should buy a pack of hpts to help me make a decision about whether or not I need to get my PIO and estrogen patches refilled.

Well, I picked up one of the two pregnancy books that I have had...for years. Actually, I guess I should say I had to dig around for them since they weren't in a location that's easy to get to. And I opened one.

I turned to the chapter about early pregnancy symptoms. It talks about food cravings and....

Breast Tenderness....

Now breast tenderness is something that's not going on with me. Not in the least. I've read all of the stories about the ladies in the 2ww who are continuously feeling themselves up to see if their bbs are sore. How could I have forgotten this important symptom.

So, I'm not wasting money on hpts. I'm not getting my meds refilled. I'm going to go to the store and buy a half pound of some of that Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee that my parents got me while in Ochos Rios, but I didn't get to enjoy in the middle of this IVF cycle. And of course dh has already consumed the whole thing. Well, Friday I'm going to take that coffee and make myself one strong cup of cappucino and basically dare dh to touch my coffee. I've shared everything with him for 9 years now, but this go around he needs to realize when to keep his hands to himself.

Yes, I'm going to take deep breaths and smell the aroma of the coffee. I'm going to enjoy hearing the grinder as it grounds the beans into a fine mound to be brewed. I'm going to enjoy listening to the espresso maker gurgle the coffee continuously with plenty of hot steam to make a good strong cup. And I'm going to work with that milk frother until it's made the frothiest topping for my espresso imaginable.

And maybe after all of that, then I'll be ready to sit down and have a good cry. Because it's inevitable. Bad news is on its way. Why would I actually think that one IVF cycle will actually have worked its magic for me when others have done so many with no luck?

But, what an amazing journey. I got to see pictures of the embryos that my dh and I made together, through a very technical process. I got to have one last hope that maybe I would get to be a Mom and pretend to join "normal" society. Now I can say that I actually have done it all in an effort to start a family. I have limited the "what ifs" when the time for my inevitable hysterectomy arrives from the uterus that I've learned is slowly collapsing. Wow! I wouldn't have known that had it not been for this IF adventure.

And I'll get to start thanking everyone who helped encourage me to make it this far. However, it will be time for me to get my life back. As much of a life as society allows a childfree couple to have.

4 More PIO Shots

Yes, somehow I will get through the next 4 PIO shots before my beta. I've run out of fresh surface area in the appropriate zone for the shots, so last night dh had to go for the least lumpy area.

Well, now I've got a visibly raised bump on top of my lumps. My skin is red throughout the injection zone, resembling raw meat. It's really gross.

I've been awakened the last three or four days by intense cramps in my belly, which is the only thing giving me a glimmer of hope. Surely these nasty PIO shots would be holding off the AF symptoms.

Friday seems a long way away.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Waiting.... What Seems Like Forever....

Well, I'm now half way through the 2ww. Basically my symptoms of OHSS have passed, so I don't feel bloated anymore.

Most of the time I feel so normal that I am not thinking the IVF worked. It makes me very sad to think we had all of those embryos created only for all of them to die. Other times I feel some small cramps. I did have a very sharp, extended cramp extremely low in my abdomen on both Tuesday and Thursday morning, so I hope that could be a good sign.

I'm already running out of unsore spots to put the PIO injections. I have two big reddish circles on each hip from these nasty shots. Dh is to the point that the only place left to inject is directly into the knots. We've been using the heating pad and rubbing the injection site afterwards. I think this cottonseed oil is just evil stuff.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Today's Great Adventure [/sarcasm]

After spending the last four days in my pajamas following the embryo transfer, I decided to do something drastic today. Yes ladies, I got dressed. In fact, I even bent over a bit to shave my legs. *gasp*

You may wonder why its taken this long to try to return to the land of the living? I have a one word answer: bloating. I have stepped on the scale daily. Some days I'm up a pound and others I'm down a pound. So, I don't suppose I have any serious signs of OHSS going on. However, I basically look as though I just finished getting pumped full of gas for a laparoscopy.
(This would actually be an improvement over my head to toe outbreak of hives on Thursday.)

As a result, I had to dig deep into my closet and pull out my overall shorts. I'll admit this isn't fancy dressing, and I rarely wear them. Amazingly, there's not a lot of leftover room. I used to be able to pull these things off and on without unbuttoning the sides. That's not happening.

After managing the amazing feat of getting dressed and drying my hair all before 2:00 p.m. I decided that maybe, just maybe, I would dare a public appearance. So, I made a run to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients for a low fat blueberry poundcake and some low sodium chili. I've become a bit bored with eating nothing but meat and rice. Hey, I don't really even like meat all that much. This high protein low carb IVF diet is killing me. Even though I'm bloated, I might actually be losing weight.

I was really tempted to drive to the grocery store with the pregnant lady parking places. After all, at this very moment I could be as pregnant as I will ever be. Yet, I decided not to tempt fate and stayed far, far away from the preggo spaces by going to my usual grocery store. While waddling around the store I almost felt like a pregnant woman, although it's probably just from that fluid spotted on e/t day hanging around in my cul-de-sac. (Ladies, I must go try to figure out where this region of the body is.) At least it gave me some hope to cling to for the next few days. It's a different feeling, but maybe those estrogen patches are just playing tricks on my mind.

Tonight dh rushed home to give me my PIA shot, oops I meant PIO, before attending his Mardi Gras association's meeting. Poor guy is so excited that he's going to get to smoke a very special cigar that he's been holding onto for weeks. (He rarely indulges in tobacco, maybe twice a year.) I informed him that under no uncertain terms was he to smoke anything prior to his big effort on retrieval day.

Since he's eating dinner at this meeting, and it doesn't seem that any restaurant understands the concept of a low sodium diet, I made my chili tonight. It's not as good as usual for some reason. Maybe I didn't put as much effort into it waddling around with the knots on my hips from the progesterone.

On a side note I decided to name my embies: Stacey and Bellah. That probably makes me a freak. Yeah, I talk to the embies too. I like to tell them about all of the wonderful things they will get to do if they will just stick around. Grandma and Grandpa just moved into a house with a pool and an empty stable with a huge fenced in area. Since their only grandchild is now 19 years old and nothing about a trouble maker, I think Stacey and/or Bellah would be spoiled rotten.

If Stacey and Bellah will just stick around...

Monday, June 13, 2005

Two Embryos: Our Only Hope

I'm sure most everyone has seen the movie Star Wars...

This morning I found out none of our remaining embryos made it to blastocyst stage, and as a result we don't have any to freeze. I'm immensely disappointed.

The scene in Star Wars where a hollogram of Princess Leia repeats, "Help me OB-1 Kanobe, your my only hope." Keeps popping into my head. Since it's doubtful my husband and I will have the resources to do IVF ever again, these two embryos are now our only hope.

We've been trying to start a family for three years. It's hard to believe that in less than two weeks we will either be elated by good news or completely devastated by our loss. There will be no point in continuing to try on our own with the severe MFI that we are battling.

I'm not sure I will know what to do when this is all over, regardless of the outcome. If I get a BFP I will freak out and be a nervous wreck the entire first trimester. If I get a BFN I'll be at an utter loss on multiple levels. It will take time to pick up the pieces.

One of my goals, should this fail, will be to get myself back in shape. I've been so afraid to exercise the last couple of years that I've gotten a bit soft. In fact, I've gone up a dress size and am close to going up yet again. So, my goal will be to get back into my size twos if this fails.

However, I keep looking at the pictures of my two embryos. I've been pleading for them to grow and begging them to prepare for implantation. The embryologist told me she has a hunch that they are girls. Of course, I could care less if they are girls or boys. I'm just praying that at least one of those precious embryos will stick.

Friday, June 10, 2005

IVF Transfer

The transfer went well today. We transferred two embryos.

  • A 7-cell grade 4.
  • A 6-cell grade 4+.

Five is considered to be the top of the scale at my RE's office.

Supposedly both embryos were preparing to divide into 8 cell embryos within a few hours. I can only hope that they continued to grow after transfer.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Full Body Allergic Reaction

The day continued to get worse. I have a full body rash so, I let the IVF nurse know.

I was thinking that this would be from the Medrol (anti-rejection med), because I was told that med could cause facial flushing. Well, the nurse says it could be from my progesterone. So, I am asked to drive ALL THE WAY over to the REs office in mid-day traffic to an office an hour away. This can be a real feat in a retirement community where the traffic lights are poorly timed. I get to the drs office, and of course everyone sees the rash. It wasn't a figment of my imagination. I was sent to a compounding pharmacy in "Timbuktu," otherwise known as some obscure area of the city that I had never visited before. The map I was given was pathetic. I had to call my husband, who is much better with both the city and directions, to help me sort things out. When I finally accidentally stumbled across the proper street that the pharmacy was on, I drove the full length of it and DID NOT SEE THE PHARMACY. (I was about to scream at the time.) So, I turned around. Miraculously on my way back down this practically deserted street I noticed a BROKEN sign for the compounding pharmacy. Apparently it was never fixed after Hurricane Ivan. There was no sign on the building.

So, I went in to pick up my med. Of course, my primary insurance will not pay for any meds from this pharmacy, and I have to wonder how much my secondary insurance really helped. I paid $140 dollars for this new progesterone oil. (My copay for the old was about $32.) Trevor was still on the phone with me most of the way home trying to help me calm down. I was almost home when I saw my new progesterone is in COTTONSEED OIL!!!! The horrors of the trials for a male contraceptive from Gossypol, a toxin found in cottonseeds, raged through my head. (I learned this lovedly tidbit of info in a class called Sociology of Family class.) In my mind I'm thinking an oil whose extract is toxic and was used experimentally for a male contraceptive just can not be a good oil to have my progesterone in for my IVF cycle. Do I really want to expose my precious little embryos to cottonseed oil!!! And this isn't even being consumed and metabolized in my tummy like the cottonseed oil in snack foods. I'm having this toxic cottonseed oil injected into my BEHIND!!! However, I talked to the IVF nurse and she assured me that plenty of patients have to use the progesterone in cottonseed oil and that some of them do get pregnant.

Yes, I am a frantic mess!

So, I do some more research. It seems that gossypol is removed when cottonseed oil is refined. Of course in our male worshipping American society we would ensure that known sperm toxins are removed from a frequently used oil.

Grading My Poor Embryos

*sigh* I kept waiting this morning for the embryologist to call me. 10:00 a.m. came and left, so I just knew that I would get a call any time. 10:30 rolled around. Still no call.

At 11:15 a.m. the phone rang. It was just dh. He asked if there had been any word. I told him I hadn't heard anything and I was getting worried.

Finally, at 11:55 a.m. I heard from the embryologist's assistant. Out of our 11 embryos...

  • 2 stopped growing completely
  • 2 have more than one multinucleated cell and are definitely abnormal
  • 2 have one multinucleated cell and are on watch in hopes they will fix themselves. They will not be used for transfer.
  • 1 embryo is 4 cell category 4+ (the best at my clinic is a category 5)
  • 1 embryo is a 5 cell category 4
  • 1 embryo is a 4 cell category 3+ (getting more fragmented than the drs office likes)
  • 2 embryos are 3 cell category 3

So, I am disappointed. We do have two good looking embryos to transfer tomorrow should they continue to grow. The other three would need to be "cleaned up" via assisted hatching to remove excessive fragmentation that could prevent the embryo from every reaching blastocyst stage. The possibility of having some embryos to freeze is looking grim.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Fertilization Report

My IVF retrieval was yesterday. I was told that 14 mature eggs were retrieved. The retrieval took about 20 minutes. I did experience some cramping and a sore bottom.

This morning I received a call from the embryologist who told me that 11 eggs fertilized. I'm so over-emotional that I cried tears of joy. My husband couldn't understand why I was crying when I called him with the news, and he was afraid that the embryologist had said something that upset me. I had a difficult time convincing him that things were in fact fine.

The embryologist will call me with another update in the morning. I suppose I will hear how the embryos are graded then. The poor things! They are so tiny and they are already being submitted to their first test.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Retrieval is 6/7

I went into the RE's office today for b/w to see if I need an HCG booster. I found out this afternoon that my levels are fine. Woohoo!!! One day without shots.

While I was there the nurse also exchanged my inch and a half needles for one inch needles. The dr who did my u/s Saturday and Sunday said that I needed the shorter needles after dh asked him for PIO pointers.

So, my retrieval is at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow!!! Dh and I have to be at the hospital at 6:00 a.m. to get prepared. After the retrieval I will be kept at the hospital for two hours.

Please let this work!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Ovidrel Shot Will Be Done Tonight!

I went back in for u/s and b/w. A few more follies are possibly in the mature range, so we are possibly looking at 13. (I think some may have bigger measurements due to being squished longer and thinner by surrounding follicles.)

Fortunately it was easier to scan the left ovary again today. It was nice to able to pay more attention to what was going on, but dh still took notes.

We are doing the hcg shot tonight! Eeekkk!!! I'm really getting nervous! The retrieval is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Things Are Looking Better for IVF

I guess my u/s went okay today. My left ovary was playing peek-a-boo AGAIN, as usual. One of the drs in the practice did the scan this morning, and he was very persistant. I thought I was going to die when he was scanning my left ovary, and couldn't pay attention at all. Fortunately dh was there, and he was taking notes!

Sixteen follicles were measured. Out of those I think there is hope that eight to ten will possibly have good eggs. Some of the others will be over-mature by retrieval, and others probably won't be mature. According to dh there were some other follicles which were smaller and not measured.

Supposedly the dr who did the scan spoke with my dr, and they both think things are "progressing nicely." I go in Sunday morning for another scan.

I am told that it looks like retrieval will be Tuesday.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

A Busy Day on the IVF Front

My u/s went better today. My left ovary cooperated for a change. I stopped counting follicles because I was stressing myself out. However, two of them were already 18mm, so they will probably be overmature at retrieval. I had quite a few others around 10mm to 14mm. Maybe I had more in that range today. A new tech did my u/s, and I think she was more persistant scanning for follicles. (Seriously, the one on Tuesday who did the scan just seemed to kind of give up when she got two follicles scanned on my left side. It wouldn't have been easy, but I wish she would have been more persistant. Maybe then I wouldn't have been freaking out the last two days. But then, how do you tell the u/s tech to DO HER JOB.)


My evening injection has been switched from Gonal-F to Pergonal. My RE thinks its a good idea for his IVF patients to get some LH. Well, we are instructed to inject the Pergonal subcutaneously, which is increasingly common. The Pergonal injection HURT! And I have a noticable welt on my leg today. I was leaning over the bathroom counter putting on my mascara this morning, and of course the edge of the counter lines up exactly where the welt is located. OUCH!!!


My goodies I purchased from Amazan to entertain myself while on bedrest have shipped!I bought the Survivor Australian Outback season on DVD, since that will keep me entertained for hours. Also, a book called The Same Sweet Girls, which supposedly isn't supposed to be too sappy. The movie "National Treasure" on DVD. Finally, a children's book Kitten's First Full Moon which I think won a Caldecott award. (Maybe the cutesy children's book will make my body send some vibes to the embies so they will stick around. )


A bit of a "funny" occurred while I was leaving the RE today. Since starting this cycle, all of my papers have been stamped with two inch block letters in red reading "IVF." Well, today someone was a little hasty with the IVF stamp, leaving nothing on my medical receipt but a big red

Well, since I am a teacher, I had to joke with the office staff about having an F on my paper. At first the person who intercepted me at the front desk was a bit embarrassed, and just mumbled something about how the letters "IV" were supposed to be in front of that F. Then, she realized that I was joking, and she said that she ought to e-mail my big red F to my students.

Seriously though, an F. I certainly feel like I deserve a big red F for having to go all the way to IVF in order to try to have a baby. However, I hope my IVF cycle doesn't end up as nothing but a big red F.