Sunday, November 30, 2008

2WW BFP Symptoms

For all those ladies out there who wonder, each and every single month, who scour the internet looking for clues as to whether or not their cycle worked, I can finally post my symptoms for you! Because God knows I have done my fair share of obsessing in the past, and driven myself absolutely crazy. This is for all those women, who are wondering what my symptoms were so you can compare them to your own, I hope this post is helpful. And I hope you all get your BFP's too!

1dp5dt - Bedrest, no symptoms

2dp5dt - Bestrest, constipated, had one small anxiety attack.

3dp5dt - Constipated, another anxiety attack, tender ovaries

4dp5dt - Constipated, lower back cramps, tender ovaries

5dp5dt - lower back Twinges, AF cramps, felt like I was getting a cold, tender ovaries.

6dp5dt - Major AF cramps and PMS -- swore she was on her way.

7dp5dt - AF cramps, extremely tired, hormonal surges, felt like I would get period any second.

8dp5dt - AF cramps went away, my body temperature felt extremely cold, I couldn't get warm enough under blankets, bloated and gassy stomach, legs and feet felt achy, strong heart-beat and pulsing sensation throughout my body, extremely thirsty, slightly tender boobs.

9dp5dt - lower middle cramps in abdomen, indigestion, cold and hot flashes, nervous butterflies, breathing felt tickly, strong pulsing sensation throughout body, dull pressure below belly button like someone was pushing on it or I ate a big meal. Peed on HTP, and got a positive but faint line. Beta test came back 151.

10dp5dt - Thirsty, indigestion, pressure on lower abdomen, strong heart beat and pulse, a few sharp pains in sides and stomach, AF cramps back, tender boobs, peed on HTP and line was same as reference line.

11dp5dt - Bright pink bleeding when I wiped but it went away within a few hours, a few cramps, not many other symptoms, peed on HTP and line was darker than reference line. 2nd Beta was 375 today.

12dp5dt - Lower abdominal pressure, AF like cramps, slightly tender breasts. A little watery pink spotting.

GOOD LUCK!!! I will be praying and hoping for all of you.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Beta #2 Is In...

And it's 375!!

Which is great news! It needed to double, so it had to be greater than 302 today.

I also peed on my last stick, and the pregnancy line is now DARKER than the reference line! YIPPEE!
So everything is right on track, except for our scare this morning. I woke up to bright pink bleeding (sorry if that's too much information) and immediately thought the worst. We called CCRM right away and the nurse told me to just take it easy, and try to stay off my feet, and they would call me after the beta to let us know what's happening. She said to try to stay calm because bleeding is common with all the medication I'm on, but of course, we were on pins and needles all morning.

After she called with our beta numbers, she said everything was fine, but to try to take it easy for the rest of the weekend and keep my feet up as much as possible. Next Thursday I'll go for another bloodtest to check my progesterone and estrogen levels to find out when I can start weaning off the medication. And that in about two and a half weeks I will go for an ultrasound to check for a sac and heartbeat. The last BIG hurdle, before they will consider my pregnancy official.

So for now it's more waiting and praying and trying to take it easy.

And of course, enjoying every second!

Friday, November 28, 2008

IT'S A MIRACLE!!!!!!!!!!!!

After 4 years, 75 thousand dollars, 24 bloodtests, 183 Doctors visits, 97 ultrasounds, 12 IUI's, 4 IVF's, 50 needles, 3 surguries, and 115 negative homes pregnancy sticks --

-- WE ARE FINALLY PREGNANT!!!!!!

The nurse called yesterday afternoon to give us the news. Our hearts dropped when the phone rang and we picked it up with white faces. I have to be honest. I REALLY thought I wasn't. I have had period cramps for the last 4 days and swore AF was on her way. I was STUNNED when the nurse said that she had good news for us! I couldn't even beleive my ears. Our first beta came back nice and strong at 151!!! They like to see it at least 50, but closer to 80 is better. So she said my number looked great! I was so stunned that I had to ask her to repeat it 3 times. And then I asked her to double check to make sure that she was actually reading my chart!

We hung up the phone, clung onto each other and cried our eyes out. Then broke out into a laughing fit (i think we were both so nervous) and laughed and cried and couldn't stop. I was shaking so hard. And I still couldn't beleive it.

Then I proceeded to pee on sticks -- just to be sure!

And I have to say, when the two lines came up, I still couldn't beleive my eyes. I've never ever seen a positive pregnancy stick, and I never thought I would. I suddenly started to love those evil evil sticks as we jumped for utter joy and stared at them all night long.

Then I woke up this morning and peed again. Just to be sure, and what do you know -- it's DARKER!!!
I still can't even beleive that it happened. I'm still in complete and utter shock. Yesterday was the happiest day of our lives. And I know, that maybe I'm getting a little ahead of myself here, I know they warn us to be cautiously optimistic. I know that we still have a few BIG hurdles to cross, before it finally becomes real, but I can't help from getting excited!

The nurse scheduled our second beta for Saturday -- two days from our first. And our beta number has to double, for this to be considered real. It's possible that our beta won't double and this is just a chemical pregnancy. It's possible that things will not continue to progress. I'm just holding onto hope that this is real, and hoping and praying that our next beta doubles like it should.

But for now I'm just enjoying the moment!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Thanksgiving Beta

I'm not ready.

I wish I could stop time. I wish I didn't have to find out today. Because this is it. Today determines our future, the fate of the rest of our lives.

And who is ever ready for that kind of news?

Right now, we still have hope. We 'could' still be pregnant. The dream is still alive and our life could still turn out the way we want it to.

We just got home from our blood test, and in about 4 hours, we will either get the best or worst news of our lives. We will either be blessed beyond belief and all our dreams will come true, or we will be truly devastated as all our dreams will be completely shattered.

This is it. Our last chance. Our last hope. Our last everything.

We want this more desperately than we've ever wanted anything in our whole lives. We have done all that we can do. The doctors have done all they can do. Now it's in the hands of God, in the hands of fate, in the hands of a technician measuring the HCG levels in my blood.

Good or bad, we have decided to take the day for ourselves. We will not blog, call our families, or share our news with anyone until tomorrow. We've decided to take the news, good or bad, and cry and hold each other tight. And we are hoping with everything we have, that they are tears of joy.

I think the fact that our beta falls on Thanksgiving has to be a good sign. Either that, or it's a cruel cruel joke, one last slap in the face on the longest hardest journey of our lives. But surely, God would not do that to us. Surely tonight, we will be filled with gratitude, and thanks, and be blessed beyond belief. Our journey will end with the greatest blessing of all on a day that is meant to stop and give thanks for all that is good in our lives. We have to believe that our miracle is hours away from coming true. We have to believe that this is our time, our day for a miracle, our day to be filled with thanks.

Today is the day.

This is it.

Ready or not, here it comes...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Evil Pee Stick

Many people have asked me if I am going to POAS.

For those of you who don't speak infertility, it is known to infertiles everywhere as Pee on a Stick. It is the question asked by everyone one of us, all over the world, as we approach the little thing called our beta.

Too pee or not to pee... that is the question.

Well, I have been staring at this little white stick all morning.

And I simply cannot bring myself to pee on it.

In fact, I almost can't even look at it. The sight of it actually makes me sick to my stomach. Even the thought of it makes me break out into a sweat as I feel the blood drain from my body. Funny, such a tiny innocent looking little stick, can actually turn me into a puddle of nerves. Far worse than any horror movie I've ever seen, this little white stick, is by far, the scariest thing I have ever laid eyes on.

You see, I have a long complicated history with home pregnancy sticks. Yes, me and pee sticks go way back. I have peed on so many sticks I can't even count them. I have bought more pregnancy sticks than any one person should. Dare I say, that in fact, I was a POAS addict. I have taken it out of the box, hopeful, every single time, peed, and then waited on pins and needles for the longest three minutes in history, while my fate came into focus. And every single time, it as been as white as the driven snow. I have never, not once, seen two lines on one of those sticks. Not once. Out of all the millions of times I've peed.

I usually start peeing on the early response sticks five days before my expected period or beta. And when the first one shows up white, I convince myself it's because it's too early, which everyone will tell you that it is. So I continue to pee every single day, until finally, my period shows up or my beta confirms it. It is like a sick love affair with the wrong guy. The guy who keeps breaking my heart, over and over, but I can't seem to shake. I keep letting him back into my life, to play with my emotions, believing that this time will be different, this time he will change, and every single month, over and over, he breaks my heart into a million little pieces.

Well, no more!

I am 8dp5dt today. Which means that my beta is tomorrow -- Thanksgiving Day -- and so far, I have not given in to the evil pee stick. But my test being less than 24 hours away, means that I could put myself out of my misery right now. I could go into the bathroom, take that evil little white stick and pee on it. I could find out the fate of my future right here and now and be almost 100% certain that the results are accurate.

There are several reasons to pee. The biggest being, that I could put myself out of my misery right here and now. If I'm pregnant, I could know right now! I could start celebrating! The other big big reason to pee, is that even if I'm not pregnant, the blow will be softer somehow, coming in the form of a stick. I will have time to get used to the idea and grieve a little before the doctor calls to give me the bad news. There is nothing worse than the telephone ringing and having to hear the worst fate you can imagine from a stranger on the other end of the telephone, while you try to hold it together, try not to burst out sobbing, and fall to complete and utter pieces. But there are even more reasons, this time, for me not to pee. If I'm not pregnant, will I believe the stick? And how will I hold out any hope for my beta tomorrow. If I'm not pregnant, the torture will begin one day earlier than it has to. And like both of my other failed IVF's, I will have to continue on the medication anyway, and go in for my bloodtest tomorrow, sobbing my eyes out as they draw my blood, hope draining from my body while I wait for the call from the doctor to confirm what I already knew.

No, I cannot pee.

I just can't bring myself to go through that torture any earlier than I have to.

I don't know what my fate will be tomorrow. But I will wait. For once in my life I will not POAS.

And I will pray for a Thanksgiving miracle.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Family -- Life's Greatest Blessing

After being married for 63 years, my grandparents passed away within 4 months of each other. And even though they have been gone for almost three years now, they are still here with me every single day, in everything I do.

My grandpa once told me that the secret to a long lasting marriage was to kiss his wife and tell her that he loves her every single day -- which he always did. They still held hands, snuggled up tight every night in bed, and said those three magic words to each other.

I cannot think about what it means to be a family, without first, thinking of my grandparents. They often told me that their family was their greatest joy, that is was life's greatest blessing, and that it was their family that they were most proud of.

It's so true. The memories that we share with our families join us forever. They link us to our past, ground us in our present, and build a bridge to our future. We would not be the people we are without our family, without our memories, without the love, traditions, and moments that bind us together forever.

Dave and I want to create the same kind of love and family that our grandparents did. We want to see the love and traditions live on. We want to see our family history continue. We want our family tree to branch out, underneath us, for the love and the joy to continue for generations to come. There is a quote by Thich Nhat Hanh that discribes it well. "If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people."

My grandparents knew the value of family and their love story always inspires and amazes me. Please watch my tribute to their 63 years of marriage, that reminds us all that life is short, that life moves on, and that family, truly is, life's greatest blessing.

video

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Why Do I Want Kids?

Such a simple question, with so many answers.

Some reasons are silly, some superficial, some biological, some maternal, and some so deep and innate that they swallow me whole.

The truth is, I wasn't always sure I wanted kids. Deep down, I always knew I wanted them, deep down I always knew I'd be a mother, I couldn't picture my future without a family. But in my twenties, and when I first got married, I wanted to 'hold off' for a while. I wanted to enjoy my husband, I wanted to start my career, I wanted to buy our family house and be settled first. I was afraid. I was afraid because I didn't feel all those maternal instincts that my friends were talking about. I was afraid because I wasn't ga-ga over babies, and I didn't even want to hold most of them. I wasn't sure I was cut out for it, I was afraid I couldn't get through labor and delivery, and I was afraid that once we had our baby, I would be overwhelmed with a new responsibility I wasn't ready for.

The fact that I 'held off' will haunt me forever. The questions linger in the air. What if I had of started trying sooner? What if I didn't wait so long? What if I hadn't been so selfish? What if I wasn't so afraid? Good 'Ol Catholic guilt swoops in and swallows me whole. It surrounds me, tells me this is all my fault, that I have nobody to blame but myself. God heard me say that I didn't want a baby, and now he's punishing me. He's taken it away from me altogether. He's teaching me a lesson. And now, I'm getting exactly what I deserve.

I know these thoughts are useless. I know the guilt is not helpful. I know that beating myself up will not change anything. That I can't go back, as much as I want, to my wedding night, and start trying for our baby right then and there. That I can't go back further, and start trying when we moved in together, or back even further to when we first started dating. I can't change the past, I can only look to the future, and pray, that I have done enough, that God will hear my prayers, that I will be rewarded for all the pain and heartache we've been through, that our perseverance will finally pay off.

Along the way, people have asked, why do you want kids so badly anyway? It's not like you can't have a good life without them. It's not like you can't just adopt if you want them so bad. Why is it so important that you have a biological connection? You didn't even always want them. How can you want them so badly now that you would spend all this money and focus every single day of your life on it? Why is having a child suddenly the only thing that matters?

Well. There are so many reasons, ranging from the stupidest to the most personal, that I don't even know where to start. But I will try. Because sometimes, I find myself asking myself the exact same question. Why do I want this so badly? Why I am willing to put myself through all of the pain and torture? Why does it matter more than anything in the world?

Why do I want kids?

- Because I don't want to fail.
- Because nobody is going to tell me that I can't do this.
- Because I've come too far, been through too much, to stop now.
- So I can hold a combination of me and Dave in my arms, and be able to say, we did that, we made that.
- So I won't be left out.
- So I can buy little baby outfits.
- So I can take family holidays, go to Disney World, rent cottages, and watch my child splash in the water.
- So I can one day be a grandma
- So I can be the kind of mom, that my mom was to me.
- So I won't be lonely, and always feel like an outsider.
- Because everybody else does, so why can't I.
- So I can have fun decorating a nursery.
- So I can relate to the rest of the world, my family, our friends.
- So I don't die old and alone in a nursing home with nobody to come and visit me.
- So I can continue the family traditions passed down to me by my grandma, and mom.
- So I can create new family traditions and holiday memories.
- So I watch my child grow and thrive and see the person they turn into.
- So my house will ring with laughter and little voices.
- So I can share the most special bond of love in the world, between a mother and child.
- So I can look back on my life and know it meant something.

But mostly, because, I firmly believe that it is relationships, not money or careers or fame, that are what make us who we are. And family is the most important relationship in the world.

Because, when it comes down to it, we are nobody without our families.

Our families are the heart of who we are.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pregnancy Symptoms???

Well, it's started.

I've started to obsess about my symptoms already.

I'm 4dp5dt today, so our embryos should be implanting today, if indeed they continued to grow and divide and hatch, like I pray they did.

So that means the symptoms 'could' start any day now. Although, maybe, realistically not for 2 or 3 more days. But how would I know? I've never had any real symptoms before. Only 'trick' symptoms as I've always called them. The kind that either get our hopes up, or the kind that freak us and crush us because not enough is happening.

Right now I'm in the freak out stage. There are no tugging sensations or implantation cramps. There are no sore breasts or nausea. Granted, I know it's still too early, and some women feel no sensations or symptoms at all, but....

I can't help it. I'm obsessed already.

And I'm scared.

I just want to feel something so I know it's working.

So let's dissect them, shall we? Here are the signs and symptoms that lots of women say they experience in the 2ww.

-- Twinges/cramps/aches in the abdomen
-- Bloated abdomen
-- Gassy
-- Spotting (light brown is good, red is bad)
-- Implantation Bleeding
-- Sore boobs
-- Veins become more apparent
-- Peeing More
-- Feeling hot/elevated temperature
-- Nipples/areolas darken
-- Feeling dizzy/lightheaded
-- Indigestion
-- Fatigue
-- Sensitivity to Smell
-- Food Cravings/Aversions
-- Heartburn
-- Constipation
-- Mood Swings/ Irritability

But the progesterone and estrogen that I'm on right now can also mimic some of these signs. And some of the cramping/bloating can still be left over from the stim meds and the Egg Retrieval.

I'm going crazy!!

Ladies, please obsess with me if you will. Especially for those of you who got a BFP!

What signs and symptoms did you feel? Did you have implantation bleeding? Could you feel the tugging or implantation cramping? How many of you felt any of the above symptoms? How many of you felt nothing?

I swear this 2ww is pure torture!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Going Home To 'Our Baby'

Our dog is our baby, and we couldn't love him more if we tried!

I've come to the conclusion that there are 3 types of dog people.

1. The kind that love their dogs like babies and treat them like a part of the family.
2. The kind that have great affection for their dogs and treat them very well, but ultimately feel they are dogs, not a member of the family.
3. The kind that treat their dogs like property that are there to serve a purpose for them.

We are unquestionably in the first group.

Phinnegan sleeps in the bed with us, goes with us on trips with us, we talk to him, we understand his personality, his quirks, his happy and sad moments. We would do anything for him. And we love him just as much as any other member of our family (maybe even more!) He brings us so much joy, and we couldn't imagine our lives without him. He has been there for us through it all. We got him eleven years ago, and since that time he has moved across the country with us three different times, he was there when we bought our first condo, our first house, when we got engaged, got married, and he's been there as we've tried year after year for a baby. He has been with us through all our highs and lows, our best and worst moments. He is always there to give us a hug and a kiss and a cuddle. Granted, he is not the worlds best dog -- he has his issues, that's for sure. He's bad to the bone. But he's our baby and we wouldn't want him any other way. He makes us laugh. He sticks by our side when we cry. And dare I say, he understands everything we say to him.

He's our baby, our little monkey, our kid.

And we know, that if he is as close as we get to a 'real' baby, then we are one lucky mom and dad. Because he's given us more joy and love than we could ever imagine.

We can hardly wait to get home and see our little guy!



Devastated

We finally got the call from one of the embryologists today -- telling us that none of our other embryos made it to freeze.

Which means, this truly is our last hope.

Out of the 16 embryos fertilized, we have no frozen embryos to fall back on. And worse than that, I can't help myself from thinking, if none of the others made it, if all of them arrested in the dish, what does that mean for the one's inside of me?

I know that it only takes one. I know that they chose the best to transfer. but still, I have been here before. And I can't help from letting fear and doubt creep in.

I can't even say it out loud. I can't bear to even think it.

Yet, it's there.

And I'm terrified.

Please, dear god, please, I'll do anything...

The Dreaded 2WW

Better known to infertiles everywhere as the TWO WEEK WAIT.

For those of you who have been through infertility treatments, you know all too well that the two week wait is the most excruciating wait of the entire process. These two weeks alone cause us the most anxiety, the most up's and downs, and can feel like a hundred years of pure torture.

This is where we obsess over every little twinge, cramp and sensation. This is where you start a whole new set of medications. You take progesterone/endometrium that happens to be the most disgusting thing around, as well as estrogen patches to further mess up our minds and hormones. And not only do these drugs make us absolutely crazy, but they also mimic the signs and symptoms of pregnancy. So as if we're not already obsessively looking up pregnancy symptoms and comparing them to every twinge and sensation we feel, the drugs are playing tricks on us, convincing us, without a doubt, that we are pregnant.

We have been through 30 two week waits, which equates to 420 days, a year and 2 months. And here we are, after spending a year and two months of our lives in the two week wait, down to our very last one.

The thought is both liberating and terrifying.

Because this has to work. And what if it doesn't?

But I am pushing those thoughts (or at least trying) out of my head. Because I can't even go to that place yet.

For now, we're here, pregnant until proven otherwise, and choosing to believe that our three little em-babies (Bean Sprout, Tator Tot, and Princess Penelope) are snuggling in for the long haul.

So far I have done everything right. I have been on bed rest for almost 48 hours, only getting up to use to washroom. And today we are 2dp5dt. For those of you wondering, what happens when, let me give you the timeline of a day 5 transfer.

1dp5dt - (1day past 5 day transfer) - Blastocyst hatches out of shell
2dp5dt - Blastocyst attaches to a site on the uterine lining
3dp5dt - Implantation begins,as the blastocyst begins to bury in the lining
4dp5dt - Implantation process continues as it buries deeper in the lining
5dp5dt - Blastocyst is completely implanted in the lining and has placenta cells & fetal cells
6dp5dt - Placenta cells begin to secret HCG in the blood
7dp5dt - More HCG is produced as fetus develops
8dp5dt - More HCG is produced as fetus develops
9dp5dt - HCG levels are now high enough to be immediately detected on HPT
10dp5dt - Pregnancy Beta test

So hopefully, today, our three little guys have already hatched from their shells and are attaching to the uterus lining at this very moment.

Come on Bean Sprout, Tator Tot, and Princess Penelope --

You can do it!!

We love you. We need you. We believe in you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

We Have Blast Off !!!

Drumroll please...

We just got back from our embryo transfer where we were thrilled to learn that we FINALLY made a blastocyst!

Not only that, but we made 3. Granted, none were perfect AA grades, but given our history we are ecstatic.

I arrived with a full bladder and got cozy in our transfer room. The nurse gave me a valium to help my uterus relax, which I was skeptical of, so I only took a half a dose. Then I relaxed under the warm blankets until the sonographer came to check that my bladder was adequately full. We were waiting on pins and needles until the embryologist finally came into the room. He proceeded to give us our report:

Out of our original 11 fertilized embryos, we had 5 left waiting for us today -- 3 blasts and 2 morulas. Here are the details:

Embryo 1: advanced blastocyst, rating: 3BA
Embryo 2: early blastocyst (not rated -- looks very healthy)
Embryo 3: early blastocyst (not rated -- some noticeable fragmentation).
Embryo 4: morula (not rated, blastulating).
Embryo 5: morula (not rated).

CCRM rates the advanced blasts as follows:

The number refers to the development stage of the blast (1 is earliest, 6 is most advanced). 1 = cavity less than half the volume of the embryo. 2 = cavity greater than than half the volume. 3 = Full blast, cavity completely fills the embryo. 4 = Expanded blast, cavity larger than the embryo, thinning shell. 5 = Hatching out of the shell. 6 = Hatched out of the shell. The first letter is the grade of the inner cell mass (cells that become the fetus), ranging from A to C, with A being the highest and C being the lowest quality. A = Many cells, tightly packed. B = Several cells, loosely grouped. C = Very few cells. The second letter is the grade of future placenta. A = Many cells, forming a cohesive layer.B = Few cells, forming a loose epithelium.
C = Very few large cells.

Out of the 5 embryos fertilized on the day after retrieval:
3 are still in the running to make good blasts.
One is quite fragmented, and one is arrested.
We'll get a call about those tomorrow, as well as the other embryos to see if there are any to freeze.

Our embryologist recommended that we transfer the two best but we felt strongly that we wanted to transfer three, and given our history he agreed and confirmed with Dr. Schoolcraft that three was our magic number. He recommended transferring the advanced blast, the good looking early blast and the blastulating morula (rather than the fragmented third blast). He did assisted hatching (using a laser to shave a portion of the shell away, making it easier for the embryo to hatch out) on the morula and early blast, but not the advanced blast (the important cell mass is too close to the outer layer to assist on the advanced blast).

Unfortunately CCRM does not give out pictures of the embryos (like our last clinic did) as they feel taking a picture could hurt them in some way. But, we brought our camera and asked to take a picture of the screen right before the transfer and the embryologist agreed that would be OK as long as the flash is off. The picture is a little grainy, but we're so happy to see our 3 little beans!

Dr. Schoolcraft (the magician behind the curtain) finally made his appearance and we got to meet him face to face for the first time!. He was calm, nice and most of all quick. The embryo transfer was over within 5 minutes, and that makes me officially pregnant with triplets. In reality, we were given a 50% chance of implantation for the advanced blast, 40% for the early blast and 30% for the morula.

After the transfer I was left to rest for an hour in the transfer room. Then I was wheelchaired out of the building and back to the hotel where I'm on strict bed rest until Thursday morning (nearly 48 hours).

We are so relieved, happy and blessed that we finally made blasts at CCRM, and topped off this difficult cycle with a successful transfer.

We can hardly believe it -- we are PUPO WITH TRIPLETS !!!



Heading Out For Our Embryo Transfer!

We are so excited this morning!

We can't believe that today is the day, that our em-babies are FINALLY coming home!

I'm feeling much better today -- well rested, healthy, and hydrated -- even if still a little stiff and sore. I couldn't ask for anything more! Thank god it has all worked out like this, because we were biting our nails for a while the other night. But whatever bug I had is out of my system and it is full steam ahead.

Our embryo transfer is at 1:30pm. We are supposed to show up an hour early to get prepped and ready and calmly in our room before the big moment. And you will never guess -- Dr. Schoolcraft himself is set to do our transfer, so we will finally have a chance to meet the man who will hopefully be responsible for our future child.

We are all set and ready to go! We washed our 'transfer clothes' in soapless water last night and hung them to dry so they wouldn't smell like fabric softener. We have both had soapless showers this morning and have no creams, lotions, or deodorants on. Embryos are very sensitive to synthetic smells, and when they are taken from the tank, loaded into the catheter, they are exposed to the air for a few minutes before they are placed into the uterus. So we are nice and scent free for them this morning, doing everything we can to help the process!

We're so nervous what to expect when we get there. Wondering how many embryos have arrested, how many are still left, whether or not they are good quality? And of course, the big question, the one we can't shake -- have any of our embryos made it over the hump from morulas to blastocysts?

We are crossing all our fingers and toes, holding our breath and sending up prayers, that we will go in today and hear the amazing news that the CCRM lab helped our embryos grow to blast. We can't even let ourselves think that we are only going to be transferring morulas again this time. We can't let ourselves believe that it didn't happen. It might not have, and if it didn't we will face that reality then, but for now we are going to hold onto hope and think the best.

Blastocysts here we come!

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Night In The Emergency Room

Yesterday around noon, I started to not feel so great.

No big surprise, my body is on tons of medications, pumped full of hormones, has just survived surgury, a couple fainting spells, some vomiting, along with about 2 months of needles and bloodtests. It's not surprising that I would feel pretty yucky.

But around 2pm, I was sick to my stomach again. Thinking that would be the end of it, I laid down to rest. Boy, was I wrong! I continued to barf my guts out (sorry for being so crass, but man!) every 10-15 minutes until 10pm. At that point I was so weak, dehydrated, and couldn't even get up off the bathroom floor, so Dave called Dr. Schoolcraft. At this point, I had bared up all my IVF medications and couldn't get any more down, and felt sicker than I ever had been.

The consensus was that I needed to go straight to emergency. CCRM worries about extreme sickness, high fevers, chills, sore stomach, and a number of other symptoms that could indicate OHSS (Ovarian Hyper stimulation Syndrome). This is where fluid from all those eggs I made leaks from the ovaries into the stomach and other organs and can cause serious health risks. Going to the ER is my worst nightmare, but since I was in no condition to argue, off we went.

Dave got me to the emergency room right away, where I proceeded to barf in the public bathroom, until the nurse came and got me with a wheelchair, because I was so weak I couldn't make it down the hall. I was into the hospital bed in a jiff, and the nurse covered me up with warm blankets to help with my chills. Dr. Schoolcraft had already called (god bless him) and spoke with the doctor on call, so the doctor knew all about my medications and what we we there to check for.

The first thing they did was get an IV in me, and pump me full of fluids and anti-nausea and anti-anxiety medications. They needed to take blood -- 8 viles -- and check for a bunch of things, I don't even remember what. They let the fluids work for about three hours, and then they wanted me to do a catscan. Dr. Schoolcraft and the ER doctor were working very closely together so that no medications they were giving me would compromise a possible Egg Transfer. I just remember being so thirsty, and they wouldn't let me drink water -- just in case I needed surgery. But they did make me drink a liter of solution they need in my stomach for the catscan. The catscan of my stomach was quick but awful, especially when they put the iodine into my IV. That stuff burns and makes you feel so disgusting and hot all over. I was so glad when it was done.

Then it was back to the room, for more liquid IV and a few more tests.

Finally at around 3am my catscan results came back. Dr. Schoolcraft was still up, waiting for my results, and the ER doctor faxed them to him. Can you believe that?! What an amazing doctor he is to care about his patients so much, as I am sure he could have just left it all to the ER doctor and looked in the morning. I have so much respect for him for staying so closely linked to my condition throughout the night. And am so glad he's our doctor!

Finally, at 4am my IV was taken out and we were discharged. We were exhausted and just wanted nothing more than to go home to bed.

I woke up this morning at noon, still tired, but hydrated. And I had to go to CCRM for a blood draw (Ugh - more bloodwork after a full night of IV and bloodwork!) and and ultrasound to check about any possible fluid still in the ovaries. For somebody with a medical phobia -- this cycle has practically pushed me to my limit!

But the good news is that Dr. Schoolcraft has completely rules out OHSS, and the conclusion was that I picked up a nasty 24 hour GI track flu that is going around.

Talk about bad timing!

Today I'm feeling much better, resting, eating chicken noodle soup, and drinking ginger ale and vitamin water. I have got to get my strength built up for my embryo transfer tomorrow. Based on all the results, Dr. Schoolcraft is comfortable and confident going ahead with embryo transfer if I'm feeling up to it.

Hopefully by tomorrow I'll be ready for our embabies to come home.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Day-3 Embryo Report

Well, it looks like we are doing a Day-5 transfer!

Dave spoke with our embryologist this morning and got an update about how our little embryos are doing. We were happy to learn that CCRM gives much more detailed information about the embryos than our old clinic, as it's always nice to know exactly what you are up against.

So without further ado, here's our report:

OUR DAY-3 EMBRYOS:
Out of our first batch of our original 11 Embryos, we have 8 left, 5 being great chances, and 3 that still have a chance to catch up.
Embryo #1: 8 Cells, Grade 4
Embryo #2: 8 Cells, Grade 4-
Embryo #3: 8 Cells, Grade 4-
Embryo #4: 8 Cells, Grade 4-
Embryo #5: 8 Cells, Grade 4-
Embryo #6: 6 Cells, Grade 4
Embryo #7: 6 Cells, Grade 4-
Embryo #8: 6 Cells, Grade 3+
Embryo #9: 5 Cells, Grade 3+, ARRESTING
Embryo #10: 4 Cells, Grade 3+, ARRESTING
Embryo #11: 2 Cells, ARRESTED

CCRM Day 3 RATING SYSTEM
1. First, they grade the Number of Cells - They want the embryos to be between 6-10 cells, 8 cells being perfect.
2. Next, they grade the Fragmentation of the Embryo -- Which is the debris left behind as the cells divide. They grade fragmentation as follows:

4 : 0% fragmentation
4- : less than 10% fragmentation
3+ : less than 20% fragmentation
3 : less than 30% fragmentation
3- : less than 40% fragmentation
2+ : less than 50% fragmentation
2 : less than 60% fragmentation
2- : less than 70% fragmentation
1+ : less than 80% fragmentation
1 : less than 90% fragmentation
1- : 100% fragmentation

OUR DAY-2 EMBRYOS:
Out of our second batch of our 5 New Embryos, we have all 5 left that are within range to continue to develop and grow. They like to see them between 2 and 6 cells on day-two, with 4 being perfect.
Embryo #1: 5 cells
Embryo #2: 4 cells
Embryo #3: 4 cells
Embryo #4: 4 cells
Embryo #5: 2 cells

Our embryo transfer will be scheduled for Tuesday, and we won't get another call between now and then. We will show up on our transfer day and get our new update on the spot and hope that we have some good blastocysts to transfer.

We're excited, but also nervous, because in the past we have always had good looking embryos on Day 3, but they always started to slow down and arrest on Day's 4 & 5. But our biggest problem, is that we've never had an embryo go from the Day-4 morula stage to the Day-5 blastocyst stage. So we are on pins and needles hoping, that this time, some of our little EM-BABIES will make it.

In the meantime, all we can do is try to put it out of our heads.

And wait.

Did I mention the waiting NEVER ends??

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It's A New Day!

Why does sunshine always make us feel better? And combine that with clear blue skies, fresh mountain air, and things start to look like a whole new day.

This morning, we decided to head out and clear our heads. So we drove up to Boulder, and walked along the trendy Pearl street. It wasn't long before being out in the fresh mountain air started to make me feel better. The surgery was behind me, all the needles finished, and it was a beautiful day.
And then, it got even better!

One of the embryologists called to report the best possible news I could imagine. Of the five additional eggs that they ICSI'd, all of them fertilized and grew overnight -- OH MY GOD! So that means we have 5 additional embryos growing -- for a total of 16!!!!

Imagine me with my jaw hanging open and my hands shaking with joy. I was so stunned I could barely beleive it. I had no hope that any would fertilize, let alone all 5! I feel so extremely lucky. And it has completely erased my guilt and worry. And now, I'm back on track, mentally and emotionally. No more beating myself up! I did everything I could. I triggered on the right day. I listened to my gut and called about our immature eggs. And we got 5 extra embryos!

Things have never looked better.

Okay, yes, I'm up and down more than a yo-yo on steroids. I do realize this. I'm not crazy, really, it's just how it is in IVF-land. The highs and lows never stop. Today I'm on a high again. But I know that there are more lows to come. It's just how it is -- this rollercoaster keeps us upside down and back around again, all within hours, days, and weeks. When we're low, we're so low that we don't think we will ever get off the ground. And when we are high, we are over the moon. Still, we know, that it's all part of a process, a long long road, with only one answer at the end.

But for now, we are truly counting our blessings, and more hopeful than ever.

So we continued on with our day, and drove toward Estes Park and The Rocky Mountain National Park with a renewed sense of hope. We talked, we laughed, and we took in the beauty around us.



The scenery was amazing. There is something about being in the mountains that makes you feel so alive. They are so majestic and brilliant and make you feel like anything is possible.

And today, we believe it is!

So tonight we go to sleep filled with hope once again, and wondering what tomorrow will bring. We will be getting a call with our Day 3 Embryo report in the morning -- and aren't sure what will happen. We could be doing our transfer as early as tomorrow morning, or not until Tuesday. We are really hoping for a day 5 transfer, but for once, we aren't going to sweat it.

We'll find out soon enough :)

Worry, Guilt, And The Burden of 'What if'?

It's no secret that I obsess about things.

I obsess about even the smallest things in life, so you can imagine how I am with the biggest. I go over things and over things in my mind. Dissecting them, rethinking them, focusing on every last detail. I worry. I play things over and over in my mind. And I find it really hard to let things go, especially when I feel they could have been avoided, if only I'd been more on top of things.

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night sobbing.

I was sobbing so hard I could barely breathe. It was all Dave could do to comfort me. Sometimes infertility hurts to your very core. It's a rollercoaster. One minute you are up, the next you are so low you don't know if it's possible to bear so much pain. It sneaks up on us, squeezes, hurts so bad that you think the pain will kill you. And you can’t stop it. There is no rationalizing it. It comes fast and furious, taking hold and torturing our hearts, minds, and souls. It is a pain I wouldn't wish on anyone, unexplainable and completely devastating. It is simply unbearable.

The fear of this final cycle failing brought me to my knees last night. Even though it's now when I should be most hopeful. It's now when we've had more embryos growing in a lab than we ever have before. It's now when we are have the best chances with the best lab in the world that we've never had before. It's now when we might even have a few new embryos growing in the lab today that I should be jumping for joy. It's now when I should be celebrating that I am crying.

I hate infertility. this stupid ugly beast. She sends fear, her partner in crime into our hearts to torture us. To sap our hope. To remind us that we are kidding ourselves. That is has never worked before, so why would it work now. To taunt and laugh in our face and bring even the most hopeful person to their knees.

But my pain doesn't come from fear of failure. It comes from fear of regret. It comes from the fear that if this cycle fails, if we are forced to face a life without biological children, that I will be haunted forever, that I will never be able to let go of the guilt, of the 'what if' thinking. That I will never stop wondering if I could have done something to change the outcome.

Up until now, this was my biggest fear. I want closure. I want to be able to walk away knowing I did everything I could. That's why I put myself in a position to have no regrets. I ate all the right foods, got all the right bodywork, asked all the right questions, came to the best clinic and lab in the country, double checked my protocol, asked and reasked questions that I needed to know, scheduled regroups and extra appointments with our doctor. Up until now, I did everything I could. I dotted all our I's and crossed all our T's. I listened to all those nagging voices in my head.

Except one.

And that is what woke me up with uncontrollable sobbing, regret, and a feeling that it's my fault for ignoring the voice in my head that told me we were triggering too early. That I should have picked up the phone and questioned it. that I should have listened to that voice that told me I wanted to coast for one more night before triggering. That I should have at least called and told them my concerns.

And now it is too late. Half my eggs were immature, and I can't help feeling that if I had of listened to my gut feeling, I could somehow have changed the outcome and got us almost double the chances.

But what I'm even more afraid of, is that if this cycle fails, if we do get to the end of this and the answer is no, that I will always look back and wonder. The one thing I wanted to avoid. I will always be asking "what if?" And that is a fate worse than anyone should ever have to bear. Because I'm afraid that that question will torture me forever.

I know I need to stop. I need to focus on the good. But right now, I'm just so afraid. And can't stop asking:

What if?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Another Chance!

After my bout of depression over our lousy mature egg ratio, I just couldn't shake the pit in my stomach, and knew I needed to do something. So I listened to that nagging inner voice!

One of the great things about joining fertility boards is that you pick up a lot of valuable information along the way. And I remembered that a couple of girls, who had bad maturity/fertilization rates, actually grew their immature eggs out in the CCRM lab for another day to see if any turned mature. I'm not sure how many labs are capable of doing this, but I know CCRM has done it for a couple ladies. So I got on the phone and made the call to ask our embryologist if our eggs had been thrown away yet, and if not, could we please try to grow them out for an extra day.

He proceeded to tell me that they usually only do this is cases where the first attempt at fertilization is really really low, sort of as a back-up -- and reminded me that these eggs are usually not the greatest and mostly lead to poor embryos -- but that it is possible that they would turn into strong viable embryos, and that if we really wanted, he would do Day-2 ICSI on any of our eggs that become mature this afteroon! We ended up with 5 additional eggs that were mature. He agreed to ICSI them and let us know if any more make it. So it's possible that we will have a few additional embryos tomorrow. Fingers crossed!

I am SOOO happy that I listened to my inner voice, yet again, and made that call.

It just goes to show you that you can never let those nagging inner voices slide. If I hadn't have called, we wouldn't have this extra chance. And we are both so thankful that we do!

After the call, we were feeling so much better and went out to enjoy the day in sunny (and snowy!) Colorado. We had a fabulous day at the GARDEN OF THE GODS, and offered up a prayer to those Gods, if they were listening, to help our embryos grow nice and strong!




Fertilization Report

Ugh.

Out of the amazing 28 eggs that they retrieved, only 14 were mature.

The moment I heard this, my heart sank.

Only 50% of my eggs were usable. A really bad rate of maturity for us, as we've always had about 80% maturity in the past.

I had a sinking feeling, we might have triggered a day too early, but how was I supposed to know. I just listened to what the experts told me and silenced those nagging voices in my head.

The good news is the 11 of the 14 eggs they injected, fertilized - which is a really good rate for us. The embryologist did a great job with what he had to work with.

And comparing this to our last cycles, we are still ahead, just barely, but we are. Our first cycle we had 17 eggs retreived, 13 mature, 7 fertilized, and our second cycle we had 18 eggs retreived, 15 mature, and 10 fertilize.

Our embryologist, John, ended up using PICSI, and had a good number of sperm bind to the hyaluron. This means that Dave had a good rate of mature sperm. Next they looked at those sperm under high mag to sort out the many morphologically degenerate sperm in order to choose the best of the bunch -- and he noted that there were a lot of really bad ones to find the good. Next they did ICSI to inject our eggs, and he said that process went very well, and they didn't need to use the laser.

He still anticipates a 5 day transfer based on the fact that we have 11 embryos growing in the lab, but we will get another call on Sunday morning to let us know how everything is going, and whether we need to come in right away for a day 3 transfer.

It's all out of our hands now. I have to try to remember that. I must try to get over my disappointment and focus on the reality. We have 11 embryos. 11 chances. No more, no less. And there is nothing I can do to help our embryos grow at this point.

Dave keeps reminding me that this is good, always the optimist. But I can't help but shake this feeling in the pit of my stomach. I'm trying, but it's hard.

For now we are just clinging to hope that the CCRM lab is magic for us, and that we will finally have a day 5 blastocyst to transfer.

But for now, it's wait and see...

On Pins and Needles

I couldn't sleep all night.

I tossed and turned and wondered.

You see, the magic happens in the lab.

Ironic isn't it? This miracle called life, that is supposed to happen in the woman's uterus -- an intimate process between a man and woman, where nature creates it's most precious miracle -- actually happens in a sterile lab with petri dishes, solutions, and a team of skilled embryologists who literally play God.

Our embryologist's name is John.

Right now, the fate of our future child is in the hands of a man named John. So last night I offered up a DEAR JOHN prayer, because, hey, he might not be God, but he's pretty close to the real thing to me.

The lab process of IVF lasts anywhere from 0-6 days. And we are on pins and needles for every single one of them.

We sit, we wait, we wonder.

How many will fertilize? Divide? Grow?

How many will we lose today?

We're hopeful but we're realistic. We've been here before. We know the drill. Our embryos just aren't good growers, and they have always slowed and arrested in the dish by day 5, never, not once, making a healhty blastocyst.

We are hoping for the best, but can't help preparing for the worst. We know each day our chances will be whittled down. We know the averages, how they work, and what we can hopefully expect. But I can't help playing the 'numbers game'.

If we have 28 eggs, our best case senario would be:
*About a 80% maturity rate (22 eggs)
*Between 50-80% of those fertilize and become embryos (11 - 18 embryos)
*About 50% of those make it to day 3 transfer (5-9 strong embryos)
*About 50% of those make it to day 5 transfer (2 -5 strong embryos)

But how will it really play out? And does CCRM have the magic lab we've heard so much about? Will this time be different? Will we actually have the chance to transfer a strong healthy embryo that hatches and implants?

God (I mean John), I hope so.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Egg Retrieval Is Over!

Just a quick update, as I'm still a little woozy, nauseous, and tired after a tough morning.

This morning Dr. Schoolcraft (who I still haven’t met) got back in town today and did my surgury. And the verdict is....

28 Eggs!!! WOO-HOO!

We can't believe it, especially since my Antral Follicle count was only 13, and Dr. Schoolcraft predicted no more than 15. I think he must have been trying to keep my expectations low, because HOLY COW!! We thought this cycle we would end up with our lowest eggs retreived, but we were so wrong. Our first IVF we had 17 retrieved, and our second IVF we had 18. This completely exceeds ANY expectations we had, and all I can say is that those whopper doses of stims did thier job! and not only that but yesterday after my trigger shot, my levels came back as follows:

E2 -- 2784
P4 -- 7.79
HCG -- 334

It's very surprising to us that we ended up with my lowest E2 level ever on surgury day, after growing so many eggs. Dr. Schoolcraft sure did a great job of growing those follicles while keeping my e2 in check and making sure I don't hyperstimulate. I'm SO impressed!

We are so excited, but trying to stay level headed. Some of those eggs will be immature and some will be post mature, therefore unusable. But we will find out exactly how many were mature tomorrow, and the even bigger news of exactly how many fertilized. We're nervous because in the past we have only had around a 50% fertilization rate, but we spoke to the embriologist today after surgury (I barely remember it, except that he was really nice!) and he assured me they are on the case!

They are going to use ICSI to fertilize the eggs -- which means inject the sperm right into the egg, rather than let them fertilize on their own in the dish. And he also mentioned that they might use laser ICSI (which I didn't even know existed), in order to help with fertilization of any harder eggs -- which has been a problem for us in the past. He confirmed that he is also going to use High Mag resolution to try to get the absolute best sperm for injection, combined with a special sperm selection process called PICSI -- where the sperm are sorted and divided in a special dish by binding to a hyaluron strip as a way to select the best.

We are cautiously optimistic for our fertilization report tomorrow.

But for now, we are just celebrating our 28 eggs! And going to have a good sleep this afternoon while I recover.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dear God

I know we haven't exactly been on speaking terms.

I know I've stopped praying, and believing, and asking for your help. I know I've given up on you, thought that you abandoned me, and cursed the fact that I ever beleived in you.

I've put my fate in your hands, I've prayed, I've believed, I've bargained, I've begged, and I've promised that I would do anything, I promised to be a better person, to spend my entire life making it up to you, if only you would grant us a baby. And when you denied me, time after time, I slowly stopped asking, believing, and praying. I lost hope. I lost faith. I lost you.

But now I'm back. And I'm asking, one last time, please dear god, please be there for me tomorrow for a successful surgery. Watch over my eggs, as they are taken from my body to a safe place to be fertilized. Stay with them, and help them fertilize, grow, and divide. Help them grow into strong beautiful embryos, and viable healthy blastocysts.

Please dear god, please, watch over our embryos and protect them. Give them strength and courage to grow. Let them know that they are loved and wanted and that we are waiting for them. Let them know that they have parents who promise to love them forever, and we are waiting with open arms for them to come home to us.

Amen.

10 Reasons To Be Thankful

1. I survived my trigger needle last night.

2. I have finished taking the last IVF needle I will ever take.

3. My eggs are growing strong inside me for one last night.

4. CCRM has been so good to me, and handled my care with detail and compassion.

5. Even though we've still yet to meet the infamous Dr. Schoolcraft, he has managed my protocol with great skill and attention.

6. We have wonderful family and friends who are rooting for us and sending positive vibes our way.

7. At this time tomorrow, my surgury will be over and the worst will officially be behind me.

8. Tomorrow afternoon my eggs will be fertilized with Dave's sperm and we will have embryos growing in a lab!

9. We were able to come up with the resources to go through this process with the best fertility clinic in the country and give ourselves one last shot.

10. No matter what happens with our cycle from this point forward -- we still have each other.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Eggshausted and Eggcited!

Cooking eggs takes a lot out of a girl!

Not to mention fainting, barfing, needles, bloodtests, and another full day of appointments. I'm completely wiped out. My stomach is hard and bloated, and we're both getting ready to be done with this.

But I'm happy to announce that after the awful day I had yesterday, I didn't give up. I climbed right back up on the horse, stared fear in the face, and took my nightly needles.

My numbers came in last night, and based on how things are progressing, Dr. Schoolcraft lowered my dose to 150 Gonal F but kept the 2 amps of menopur, along with the antagon the same.

NUMBERS -- DAY 8 of STIMS
E2 - 2477
P4 - 0.7
LH - 1
Left Ovary - 5 over 10, 2 less than 10
Right Ovary - 12 over 10, 3 less than 10
Average Follicle Size -- 14mm
Leading Follicle -- 19mm

And this morning I was right back at it. Another bloodtest first thing this morning to measure my levels. I was shaky this morning, my confidence was shattered after yesterday, but I made myself proud and once again stepped through my fear.

We got to CCRM today at 9:45am and didn't get out of there until 3:15pm -- 5.5 hours! Talk about a marathon. I felt like I was at my one-day work-up all over again. It was a long day but but it was a good day. We had an appointment with Dr. Minjarez, spoke to our nurse, spoke to the counselor, Dave gave his back-up sample, we did a walk through of the surgery room, signed consents, and prepared the nurses for our surgery and anesthesiologist needs.

We finally got home, completely exhausted, and got a call from our nurse with today's numbers.

NUMBERS -- DAY 9 of STIMS
E2 - 3211
P4 - 0.9
LH - 0.4
Left Ovary - 7 over 10, 1 less than 10
Right Ovary - 12 over 10, 3 less than 10
Average Follicle Size -- 16mm
Leading Follicle -- 23mm

And get this -- our nurse just called about our dosage for tonight and it turns out we are TRIGGERING!!! I thought it would be another day or two, but here we are already. Our trigger shot is scheduled for 10pm tonight, which makes our egg retrevial Thursday at 9am.

I am SOOO scared about this trigger shot tonight. We have always used ovidrel to trigger in the past, thus avoiding the scary IM injection. But tonight there is no getting around it. Dave says he's all practised up and ready, and the nurse drew a bulls-eye on my hip, exactly where he needs to give this sucker.

We can't believe it's all finally happening!! After 24 nights of needles, tonight is the last one!

We're scared, exhausted, and excited.

THIS IS IT!!

Thank You To My Cyber IF Girls

I started this blog as a way to update my closest family and friends on our journey.

I wanted a single place where people could go to find out where we were at each step along the way, rather than have to answer questions and remember to update everyone. IVF is exhausting enough without the added burden of constantly updating people. I also wanted a place where people who were curious, but were afraid to ask, could read about our journey without the awkwardness of having to ask. And then there were our other friends and acquaintances who didn't even know we struggled with IF -- I wanted to open our journey up to all of them, so that they might see that we haven't just turned into these new not so fun, hard to be around people, for no reason.

But what I never expected was to find all of you. During most of my infertility struggles I was not interested in reaching out to others in a similar situation. I was gaurded. I was ashamed. I was in denial. I lurked on boards, I lurked on other blogs, I had no intentions of reaching out to make friends, even though my husband pushed me to reach out and try to connect. Even though he said I was slipping into a hole and needed to find support. But denial is a funny thing. I told myself that lurking was fine, but posting, meant that I was somehow giving in, that I was somehow admitting that thing I was desperate to overcome -- that I was infertile. That I was different than all my other friends and family. And that I might never have a child.

I finally, broke down, after our last failed cycle and posted my first question and comment ever on an IF board. I didn't do it for support or to make friends, I did it because I was lost. Because I needed answers to questions. Because my RE had none. And I was desperate to find my own. And that's where I found the most incredible group of women I've never even met! You answered questions, you shared your opinions, you shared your struggles, your hopes your dreams and your fears. You were a mirror, a reflection of everything I think and feel. And suddenly, for the first time in a long time, I didn't feel quite so alone. You inspired and encouraged and commiserated. But most of all, you were just there. There to listen, there to support, there to remind me that I'm stronger than I think.

I want to thank every last one of you for reaching out to me. For reading my blog, and for taking the time to respond. Your comments and support have meant more to me than I can ever say. I am simply touched that you would care and bother to take the time. That you, who don't even know me, who have never once met me, would be there to support and encourage me along this long lonely difficult road, and during the time when I need it the most. You are some of the strongest, most understanding, and truly wonderful women I've never met. You have become my biggest champions and my shoulder to lean on, and for that, I am forever grateful.

I know some of you have been through worse, I know some of you have been lucky enough to have finally crossed over to the other side, I know some of you have given up the fight altogether, and I know others, like me, are in the middle of cycles, middle of their two week waits, or suffering yet another loss and decision on what to do next. I admire and respect you all. And want nothing but the absolute best for every single one of us. I hope all our dreams come true, and all of us finally become mothers one day, but most of all, I hope that whatever happens, we are all someday able to find the peace and happiness we deserve.

Because we all deserve it.

Thank you for being there for me. I love you all.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bad Day in Denver (by DH)

Just a quick entry by David on Lisa's behalf to udpate everyone on a particularly bad day.

Lisa did ultrasound and bloodtest this morning with no problem (10:15 and 10:30) and from there went straight to her IVF physical.

While she was in there, she had a panic attack (there's a long history of medical phobia that Lisa overcame to get this far... she can tell you about it some other time). As she was getting her abdominal exam, she passed out (on the exam table). I was able to hold her on the table until she came around gasping for breath.

After that she couldn't get settled and we stayed in the exam room for about an hour with cold cloths and ice packs, trying to feel better. Then she got violently sick (in the biohazard waste container) several times. After that she felt better, and we were able to get her out into the parking lot for some fresh air (even though they wanted us to wait for Dr. Minarez [the only doctor on site this week] to come and see her).

Not long after that our nurse came out to see how we were doing... we agreed that we'd head back to the hotel and put Lisa to bed. Once we were in the hotel, she was sick again another 4 or 5 times over the next 3 hours... and just a few minutes ago she had some soda crackers and asked me to update the blog. One additional problem (not as bad as Lisa being sick) is that I missed my backup sample today. Will have to do it tomorrow, but that's really only leaving 2 days before probable surgery, still enough, but cutting it close.

We're still waiting for the call from our nurse to give us tonight's dosage, and poor Lisa's not really up for a needle, and she's afraid it's the drugs that are making her sick. She's almost feeling like we should just stop, but can't give up after coming this far. Dr. Minarez assures us that it's not the drugs causing the illness.
Dr. Minarez wants to see Lisa tomorrow, and we have to see the psychologist tomorrow as well (because of the fainting) before we can proceed with the cycle.

So it's been a bad day, and bracing for a worse night (with the needle), and more blood tests and appointments in the morning. Hopefully Lisa can get some sleep.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mile High Home!

We're finally here!

And not a moment too soon.

Saturday morning was hectic. We rushed into Seattle to do an ultra sound and bloodtest, before heading out for our flight. But once we were at the airport, things went smoothly and security let me through with all my drugs and needles, only confiscating our rubbing alcohol from the suitcase chocked full of meds. HURRAY -- One for the good guys!

We arrived in Denver and checked into our hotel just in time to check email and find out our numbers from our morning bloodwork and ultrasound in Seattle. While we were in transit the info was faxed to Denver, checked by Dr. Schoolcraft, and emailed to us, so that when we checked into our hotel we knew what dose of medication to take. And based on the numbers, Dr. Schoolcraft kept me on the same whopper doses of stims. I couldn't beleive it! I thought for sure he would lower them by now.

NUMBERS -- DAY 6 OF STIMS
E2 - 877
P4 - 0.6
LH - 0.3
Left Ovary - 4 over 10, 2 less than 10
Right Ovary - 8 over 10, 7, less than 10
Average Follicle Size -- 13mm
Leading Follicle - 17mm

After my evening doses of drugs, we crashed, thankfully, because we had to be up early for our first round of monitoring at CCRM!
It is such a great feeling to be back in Denver. The sky is blue and sunny, the air is crisp, and there is a feeling of hopefulness that has crept in and taken hold. So off we went to our first appointment, to get bloodwork and ultrasound done.

While we were waiting for our numbers to come back, we unpacked, headed to whole foods armed with our list of fertility foods, and got settled into the Marriott Residence Inn Denver (South Park Meadows Mall). It's about a five minute drive to CCRM, and right next door to a Park Meadows Mall with great shopping and restaurants. Our hotel room is perfect for us -- it's got a full kitchen, sitting area, small table, bedroom and bathroom for just $99 a night. It has free high speed internet, daily breakfast, and the staff is great, friendly, and accommodated all my extra requests for extra pillows and feather duvets for the room. I wanted to be sure to be as cozy as possible, and I'm happy to report that I am! The only thing that's missing is our dog but I know he's in the best of hands with my mom (who has already called to say they are having a ball together)!


When we got back to our room, we had a message waiting for us with today's numbers.

NUMBERS -- DAY 7 of STIMS
E2 - 1177
P4 - 0.6
LH - 0.7
Left Ovary - 4 over 10, 2 less than 10
Right Ovary - 8 over 10, 5 less than 10
Average Follicle Size -- 14mm
Leading Follicle -- 17mm

Unfortunately not to much has changed with my follicles in the last 24 hours, so Dr. Schoolcraft wants me to continue taking the big doses of stims --300 GonalF, 2amps Menopur! I can't believe it, in my last cycles, my old clinic had even started weaning me down my much smaller doses by day 6 and 7. But, I'm happy that my E2 isn't climbing out of control on these doses and happy to get the opportunity to see if I can grow some of those smaller follicles. The downside is that we are going to have to order even MORE drugs tomorrow. Oh well, what's more money at this point --- put it on our tab!

This afternoon we decided to head into Down Town Denver and look around. We walked around Market Street in Denver and along Cherry Creek Park trail.

It was great to get out together and enjoy the fresh air, but it's even better to be back in the room to crash. My stomach is getting heavy and full and my ovaries are pretty tender, and it seems to be taking a lot out of me. Tonight feels like a good TV night, and hopefully another good sleep before our many appointments tomorrow morning.

All in all, a very good day in beautiful Denver Colorado!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Getting Ready To Hit The Road!


So long Seattle!

After 20 days of needles, including 4 doses of stims, we’re finally ready to fly to sunny Denver tomorrow morning!

For those of you wondering about the nitty gritty, let me give you the update. And for those of you who don't speak 'IVF', sorry for all the technical jargon.


OUR PROTOCOL DETAILS:

I'm still on whopper doses of stims. 300 Gonal F, 2 Amps of Menopur. And taking dexamethasone at night. I'm starting to get really bloated and feeling pretty yucky, so I'm trying to take it as a sign that this is working. And since I'm doing the antagonist protocol this time I start back up on antagon tonight (this is the stuff that I have the allergic reaction to. They switched me to cetrotide but it didn't help) so unfortunately I will just have to live with the welts, swelling and itching for a couple of hours after the injection. UGH! But what else can I do? We've spent so much extra money on drugs and monitoring this week that we weren't prepared for, but other than that, we're happy to be monitored so closely and taking the right drugs for my body. I really still can't believe I'm on such high doses, when every other cycle I've been on less than half and responded even better. My fertility really must be falling off the cliff faster and faster every year and month that goes by.


LISA'S HORMONE LEVEL UPDATE:

Day 3 (After 2 stim doses)
E2 - 118
P4 - Less than .2
LH - 0.8

Day 4 (After 3 stim doses)
E2 - 294
P4 - .2
LH - 0.6

I have today off from the dreaded bloodwork, thankfully. Which means I had a dose last night and one more tonight, before I'm checked again. I can't say that I'm not worried about my E2 shooting up over the next couple of days due to the fact that I'm still on whopper doses of Gonal F, and the fact that I have a history of coming close to hyperstimuating. But I'm trying not to worry. Dr. Schoolcraft is on the case, and I must at least TRY to let go of my obsessive worry.


OUR FOLLICLE UPDATE:

So far I've got a total of 18 follicles growing! 14 follicles growing on the right ovary, but only 4 on the left. What a big and crazy difference! I can't say that I'm not a little disappointed in my left side -- it's the least I've ever had grow there. But all in all the right side has made up for it. The one problem to note so far is that I already have about 3 that are almost at 14mm, quite a few around 7mm, and the rest are straggling behind. It's never a good thing to have them spread out so far in size, because when we do the egg retrieval, they will trigger me based on the average size, which means some will end up post mature, and unusable, and others will end up immature and unusable. So I'm hoping that the stragglers start catching up and the others slow down and I have a healthy average size to retrieve when it comes time. But only time will tell, and this, really is completely out of my hands right now.


AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, OUR SCHEDULE UPDATE:

TODAY: Pack like crazy!! We'll be away for 2 weeks, and I want to make sure I have enough creature comforts, all my comfy loose clothing, and the right things to make it through this stressful time. Confirm flight, rental car, and prepare all medication for flying. Some of our medications have to stay cold, so we will be cold packing them in a cooler, along with the rest of the meds and needles and bringing them on my carry on with me. Security is going to LOVE this. A woman with a million syringes in her bag. But the alternative is to check them, and possibly risk having my bag not show up, which at this point is not an option. My nurse has given me a note explaining that I'm allowed to be travelling with these needles and meds for medical purposes, but still, I'm very nervous about how this is going to go over.

TOMORROW: Our flight leaves at noon (Thank you for the flights Sue and Jim -- we really appreciate it!!!). Our car will be picking us up at 10am. But first, I have to get up and drag my butt into our Seattle clinic for an ultrasound and bloodtest at 7am for monitoring. The results will be faxed to our doctor at CCRM while we are flying and when we arrive in Denver, we will have an email waiting for us, about what doses we are supposed to take for my needles tonight. So this'll be tight. And stressful, but I'm just hoping everything works out and the plane doesn’t get delayed and we are able to pick up the rental car on time, or we everything will get royally screwed up. So fingers crossed it all works out. I'm actually excited to finally be travelling, but I'm sad to leave our dog (but thank you SOOOO much mom for staying and looking after him for 2 weeks while we are gone. I feel so much better that he'll be loved and taken care of!)

SUNDAY: Starts our daily bloodwork and ultra sounds in Denver. We have a bunch of other appointments set up, and we will basically continue on my medication at the appropriate new doses until finally, at some point, the doctor will make the call to give the trigger shot. (And that is a brutal one!)

TENTATIVE EGG RETRIEVAL SURGURY: As of right now, our tentative surgury is set for Friday Nov. 14th. This could either get moved up or back, depending on how follicle growth and hormone levels.

TENTATIVE EMBRYO TRANSFER: As of right now, our tentative transfer is set for sometime between Nov. 17th and Nov. 20th depending on if my eggs fertilize, how well they divide and grow, and the big big question -- whether or not we have enough strong embryos that hopefully (cross fingers) grow into blasts this time!!!


I really can't believe that it's here already. I'm nervous, I'm excited, and I'm trying to build up my hope. This is it! This going to be the one! Cross your fingers and toes everyone.

Denver Here We (finally) Come!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Infertility And The Bamboo Tree

Life is often like the Chinese bamboo tree.

It can be discouraging and challenging and filled with despair. We do everything we can, we do everything right, we try our hardest and our best, yet nothing happens. And we wonder if all our hard work will ever pay off. But it's when life seems it's most unbearable, that we must persist, believe, and have faith.

And while this road is filled with heartache, road blocks, sorrow, and frustration -- it is also filled with the lesson of patience, courage, faith and hope. And that with hope, all things are possible.

So today I will hold onto hope. And I will wait, patiently for my bamboo seed to take root, and to hopefully, finally --

Grow...


Click here to watch the inspiring story of the bamboo tree.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Dream Nursery


It turns out the forbidden fruit is not the apple...

It's Pottery Barn for Kids!

And Eve thought she was tempted! Ha! I'll take her apple and raise her a designer nursery any day.

Designer baby stores are everywhere! Tempting me. Calling out to me. As if the juiciest most forbidden apple on the tree. God, looks down at us infertiles and says -- that for us, pottery barn for kids is forbidden. And we believe him. We know that upon entering we are likely to break into a million pieces and fall into a puddle on the floor, struck dead upon entering. But we can't help from peeking in, window shopping, fantasizing about our own dream nursery in our weakest of moments.

The snake is there to tempt us. Opening the door to baby-land, telling us to go in, telling us to take just one little bite. Just one stuffed lamb. One cuddly blanket. One baby outfit. It won't kill you, the snake tempts us. Oh yes it will, we say. And we know for sure, if this cycle fails, yet again, the sight of even one baby item will be a knife in the heart. That God will surely punish us for eating the forbidden fruit.

But if Eve can do it, why can't we? She survived after all, original sin and all! And everyone needs to shop, right? It's practically a survival mechanism in low times such as these. Especially when we have already given up wine, chocolate, caffeine, and all remnants of a social life.

Shopping is practically the only thing we have left!

And I have been dying to buy baby things for about as long as I can remember. I mean, who among us hasn't longed to go into a baby store and rack up an obscene amount on the credit card? Who hasn't looked at all the designer baby gear and simply salivated with the urge to buy it all. I've been fantasizing about paint, and bedding and cribs and knickknacks for years. I daydream about those big wooden white letters for the wall. I pine for those oversized nursing chairs, and those big fluffy white lambs. And have you ever browsed the stuffed mobiles? I mean, as if! And what about all those itty bitty outfits, the tiny booties, the ultra soft blankets. And don't you just find it hard to control yourself around high tech strollers, designer diaper bags, and snuggly baby carriers?

I have played both sides. I have thrown the baby magazines across the room. I have ripped them in half. I have run out of stores in tears. And stayed away like they are the plague. So far, in this journey, I have done my best to shun all things baby.

But since I'm going to let myself dream a little, well, the nursery is the place to begin!

I've always wanted to let myself go. To just start buying. To throw caution to the wind and create that dream nursery I've always wanted. But I've stopped myself, aware that the pain would be too unbearable. And even though I won't actually allow myself to start painting the nusery, to march into pottery barn for kids and charge every last item -- I will, for today, allow myself to dream.

About cuddling soft white blankets and stuffed toys and showcase nurseries that could melt even the coldest heart. And maybe, just maybe, I will tempt fate, reach out and take a bite of the ultimate forbidden fruit.

Because hey, If God strikes me dead, at least I'll have had one hell of a fun shopping spree first!