Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Boy Responds

So, my beta test confirmed what the home pregnancy test told us, of which I had no doubts.  Now I am just hanging out, getting ready to go on a lovely vacation, and waiting for my back/butt to finally feel a bit better.  Oh yeah, and I'm also busy turning 37 today!

In the meantime, here are the answers to your "Dear Boy" questions.  If anyone feels like they missed out and wants to ask him more questions or follow-up questions, I'm sure he'd be happy to answer them.

 Dear Boy:  I have heard from the super awesome alterna-famousish girl you're with that you are in many ways the solid positive anchor in the process.  Can you explain how you do it?  What's your theory (or perhaps secret)?  

I kind of do it out of necessity. There's a few layers of it. First of all the traditional patriarchal "I am the man so I am the strong one" expectation that in spite of all our radical politics I think continues to exist in some form. But mostly somebody's got to do it and Sharon's the one being filled with hormones and poked and prodded, so really it's up to me.

Sometimes I fail to be the "positive anchor" because I'm in a bad mood or feeling selfish but I hope I've kept that to a minimum. It can be hard when I am upset about how it's all going because I sometimes feel that I can't go to Sharon with it. Any of my complaints pale in comparison to her physical or emotional experience. 

The worst of it is probably that I end up turning down my emotions about the whole situation so that I can more effectively support Sharon through it. Sometimes she gets a bit of a numb bum and sometimes I get a bit of a numb heart.

I know it's totally open-ended, but I'm curious as to what his role is in all of your health stuff.  So he has to inject you in the bum, right?  But do you do the belly stuff?  and aside from that, does he come to every single appointment. or does he decide which to attend?

Until the progesterone shots Sharon was unwilling to let me anywhere near her with a needle. Until this cycle I've had an entirely non-medical role. Part of my role has been to "worry about the money stuff" which means shutting up about my frustrations with American's inefficient healthcare system and taking a new job that has some fertility coverage.

As far as appointments I come to all of the "important" ones - where we're talking with a doctor, or there's something more surgical going on (egg retrieval, embryo transfer). I think I've made it to basically all of our appointments this cycle and most of our appointments last cycle. Now that my work is an hour's drive the other direction it's fairly inconvenient to go to UCSF but I've managed to. When we were in the IUI study there were a lot of appointments that were merely a blood draw - I missed a lot of those because there wasn't a whole lot for me to provide.

For decision making so far we've been lucky enough to agree on basically everything. For things that affect Sharon's body (basically everything medical in this process) I feel like she has a veto, but for everything else I feel that we need to come to compromise or consensus.

How do you stay connected to/engaged in the process?  

As I said in an earlier answer, I end up disengaging to some extent to be able to provide support.  I'm not a writer and less into sharing my personal feelings on the Internet.

I have found that having a job this cycle (injection PIO) has made me a lot more aware of the rest of the stuff that Sharon is doing (synthroid, patches, etc.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Peed on a stick.  Was negative.  That was last night.  I slept restlessly, but I'm kind of OK.  Off to take the blood test now.  Fun.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk

I have a few vices.  Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk are not them.

My song would be more like, "Too much coffee and some red wine..."  Which I have continued to enjoy during this two week wait.  I think I'm in a lot more denial this time than I was during my last cycle.  Last night Ian and I were trying to decide when to take the home pregnancy test (you may remember this discussion from last time) and I was just like, "I DON'T WANNNNNA!!!"  whine whine whine.  It's so funny, because I see so many women who are basically addicted to peeing on sticks, and I am so the opposite.  I think there must be two camps of us inftertiles, those for whom the testing makes them feel in control, and those for whom it doesn't. This time more than ever, I just don't want to test.  In the end, I think we may do it tonight, first morning urine be damned.  If I'm pregnant, it should show up even tonight because I'm at 13dp3dt, which is a solid 2 days past when my period would be due if I wasn't on progesterone, and I have good early response tests.  That seemed less unpleasant to me than doing it either this morning or tomorrow morning before my blood test.  I think I just don't want to find out and then go to work, maybe?

Anyhow, back to my vices.  I think it's worth noting that I've continued to drink more than 1 cup of coffee most days and have enjoyed three, yes three, glasses of wine so far during these two week proving that I'm at least doing a great job of convincing myself that I don't care.  Or maybe, more accurately, I'm telling myself that I can drink wine and coffee because of course I'm not pregnant and this cycle hasn't worked in secret superstitious hope that this means I *am* pregnant and am just being a little bit naughty this time.  Cause being super good and uptight didn't do me any good last time.  Who knows.

In the meantime, I continue to have on and off cramping, which each time it happens make me even more sure that I am not pregnant, in spite of the knowledge that many many women have cramping in early pregnancy, AND that the PIO causes cramping.  It just feels EXACTLY THE SAME as every other cycle.  So, I can't do anything other than assume EXACTLY THE SAME outcome.  I don't have any other symptoms.  None.  No nausea, no sore boobs, no zits, nothing.  Ya know, other than that giant ache of a rear end/lower back that follows me everywhere I go.  But that's not so much a symptom as an expected outcome of sticking giant needles in your body daily.

I have really successfully avoided googling this time.  I've, once or twice, done the ol' 6dp3dt style googling, but it has been totally unsatisfying.  At this point I know everything the Internet says, and it does nothing to reassure me anymore.  I think I'm just hitting the point of being far enough along in this process that I likely won't really believe I am capable of being pregnant and becoming a mother until I am holding a baby.  My own baby. (Sorry other babies - I do still like holding you all, though, babies of the world).

So, that's me today.  Ian is, I swear, working on answers to his questions.  I really hope to get them up before we leave for Switzerland on Saturday.  If not, then in the new year.

Friday, December 14, 2012


See what I did up there?  Clever, eh?  What with the Progesterone in Oil injections being a Pain in the Ass, literally and figuratively??

Um, anyhow.

Not a whole lot to report around here, except that these shots suck a lot.  At first I felt like they weren't as bad as I had expected, because the actual needle going in, in spite of its giant size, is fast and not the most horrific thing ever.  Even after just a couple of days, though, I started to feel like I was wrong.  The more time that passes, the more the pain builds up and the harder they are.  Now we are two weeks in and I'm just so so so sore.  There are parts of me that I can barely touch.  There are parts that when I walk, or we go over a bump in the car, just scream with pain. There are parts of my flesh that are now numb to the touch.  (Yeah, I called the nurse about that one.  Good news?  It happens relatively often and probably just means we nicked a small nerve.  Bad news?  While I *should* eventually get the feeling back in my flesh in that region of my posterior, there is no telling how long it might take.)  There are parts with lumps and knots of the oil balled up.  There are parts where my muscle just feels sore (like your arm after an injection). Every night, regardless of what pain I'm already feeling, we have to inject again.  I just lay there and breath deeply and close my eyes and Ian makes it as easy as possible.  Sometimes I barely feel it.  Sometimes it hurts a lot.  A couple of nights ago it hurt in a new scary way and when the needle came out, blood poured out, running down my side and staining our sheets.  Ian always checks for blood by pulling back on the plunger once the needle is in before injecting the PIO, so we know he didn't inject into a vein, but clearly the needle must have passed through one on the way down.

It's not fun at all, and every night I sort of can't believe I am actually doing this every night.  In goes the needle, massage massage massage goes Ian on the spot, heat pad for a couple minutes and then I have to get back up and get on with my life.  But, ya know...what else can I do?  I have to do it.  So I do it.

So, yeah.  Fuck you, Progesterone in Oil!  Fuck you big time!

Otherwise, I'm doing OK.  I have made it past the first week of the two week wait with minimal emotional torture, comparatively  I haven't had any symptoms of anything, other than some crampyness and I'm still really delightfully distracted by my new job.  I mean, listen, don't get me wrong, I am still thinking about this every second of every day.  But at least this time it's not the *only* thing I can focus on every second of every day.  It can all share some space in my brain with other things, like holidays and work and my upcoming birthday and travel and...

Ian will answer his Dear Boy questions very soon, I hope.

I'll find out if I'm pregnant or not on Wednesday.

If I start to go insane, which I might, I'm sure I'll post more between now and then.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Time passes differently for me than it used to.  I am sure this is the same for many people dealing with infertility, and even for people just trying to conceive who haven't hit major obstacles.  Our version is just extreme.  I think of almost every date in terms of baby-making and how it hasn't happened yet.  Each significant date is a reminder of how much time this has been going on for me and how I am still not sure when it will end.  Today is 12-12-12, which would be an awesome day for a baby to be born, or so I hear as people on my various social networks have kindly pointed out over the last weeks to the very pregnant women also on these networks.  You know what that does for me?  It makes me remember how excited I was when I realized that my ovulation schedule was timed perfectly for a potential due date of 11-11-11 if I had gotten pregnant that month.  I, of course, didn't.  Nor did I the next month.  Not only did I not have an 11-11-11 baby, but I did not have an 11-11-11 pregnancy.   Now it's already 12-12-12.  Still not a mom.

For a long time I thought of events in terms of "if I have a baby then..., If I am pregnant then...., and if we are still trying then..."   Commitments to professional committees that require conference attendance, holidays that I like to travel for, potential visits from friends or family in the distant future, new job opportunities, even things like needed dental work... all fair game for that way of thinking.  It just seemed like I needed to plan my life that way because everything was so up in the air.  These days, I don't.  After two Thanksgivings have now passed by when I had wasted time during the previous year planning for them in that "if i..." way, I no longer bother.  Sometimes I catch myself going there, but I've definitely put up a wall on that genre of thought.  Now I just live acutely aware of the passage of time, and the lack of need, so far,  for me to plan my life around the major events of pregnancy, childbirth and new motherhood.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dear Boy

Remember Sassy Magazine?  Well, I sure as shit do!  Not only do I remember it, but I still have two prized possessions from Sassy.

1.  My copy of this issue, in great condition:

2.  And this record (they were completely my favorite band at the time, so I was pretty psyched):

Can you now guess exactly how old I am and precisely who I was in junior high/high school??

Anyhow, Sassy had a column called "Dear Boy" wherein you could write in and ask a real live boy real questions!  And by real live boy, I mean real super-awesome alterna-famousish-men!  Here's a bunch of the columns, actually, if you want to read them.  My boyfriend forever Greg Dulli is even in there.

Dear Boy...that's what we're about to be doing here.  This super-awesome alterna-famousish man is gonna answer your questions!

I keep asking Ian if he wants to write a post on the blog, because really this is OUR journey, not just MY journey, even if a lot of what happens is sort of happening to me.  His answer is usually some sort of a "not really" kind of response, mostly because he doesn't know what to say or how to format what he might want to say and he's just less of a writer type than I am.  So, I asked him tonight how he'd feel about answering some questions and he dug the idea.  I just thought that some of my readers might want to know what he thinks/feels/has to say about some of what's been happening with us, and I'd love to give him the format he needs for sharing some of his thoughts and feelings.

So, please please, ask him some questions or give him some ideas of things you might like to hear from his point of view.  You can post them in the comments here, or on the Facebook page  or to twitter or just in an email (which I'm not gonna link or type out cause duh spammers, but dearanxiety at gmail), if you'd rather be more anonymous.   Look at him sitting there, all serious-faced, waiting to hear from you.  Don't leave a bro hangin'.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Is Hope the Thing with Feathers?

Yesterday was, of course, my embryo transfer, so I wanted to let everyone know how it went.  There's not a whole lot to report, since the process has become so familiar to me, and I've posted about it all here before. Basically, I took my valium and had a lot of water to drink to fill my bladder an hour before the schedule transfer and went in to UCSF.  I got gowned up, and Ian got gowned up and in we went....

They thawed two embryos successfully and they both looked good, so that's great news.  It means we've still got 6 frosties left if these two don't take.  So, first the doctor (we had Tran, which was cool) did the hCG wash - putting some quantity of hCG through the catheter into my uterus.  Then we had 7 minutes to chill out while it sat in there hanging out doing whatever it was doing.  Once the 7 minutes had passed, in went the embryos (and we did do assisted hatching, so they've been poked pre-going inside me).  He said it went very well - better than the practice transfer he had done with us way back when.  So, that's good.  He also said our embryos look great.  So, that's sort of that.  Now we're back to the waiting game.

It's strange how much less into it I am this time compared to the last transfer.  I guess that's just how it works for me, though.  I get my hopes up once for a procedure to work, and then when it doesn't, I sort of don't open myself up the same way again.  I don't know.  I'm sure I'll still be devastated if this doesn't work, but I don't have the same excited floaty feeling I had after the last transfer.  I keep forgetting I have two embryos hanging out inside of me.

I'm sure some of that, too, is this new job.  I am just really focused elsewhere right now in a way I wasn't last time.  So, that's good.  There are actually moments of the day where this isn't on my mind.  Which feels pretty miraculous.  I'm sure once I start feeling more symptoms that can be attributed, potentially, to pregnancy I'll become more insane.  I do feel some hope that this was so much easier on my body so that's gotta be good for something, right?

One thing that I am acutely aware of at all moments of the day, is my ass.  So, yeah, those PIO (Progesterone in Oil) shots that I have every night?  They suck.  Ian is amazing and a total champ and we were both so scared the first night and now we're already experts.  But after 6 nights of these, I feel like I can barely walk.  It is really one of the least pleasant things I've ever had to do.  I hate it a lot.  I am every kind of sore and I have to have a giant needle shoved into my already sore sad spots every single night.  I can't even look at the needle without panicking - I have to close my eyes.  And this is after becoming so accustomed to injecting tiny needles into my stomach that I barely cared.  This is just a different ballgame.

Oh yeah ,we also found out today that Frozen Transfers are not covered by our insurance.  So that is a bit interesting.  That means we'll be paying out of pocket for this cycle and any others we need.  It is way cheaper than a full IVF, but it isn't peanuts.  

Anyhow, so, another blogger arranged an awesome sock exchange for people in this infertility world of bloggers, so I wore the socks that were sent to me all the way from England by the lovely Arwen for my transfer.  I loved that like 5 different people (nurses, primarily) noticed and commented on them.  Here I am all ready to go, showing them off.  The valium was really working at this point, by the way, people.  

This is on topic I swear, so, OK, I get this email everyday from Timehop that tells me what I was doing on that day the year before based on all my social networking.  Yesterday after my transfer I checked my email and found this photo in my Timehop email.  Apparently one year before my FET was the day I had my HSG, which was a horribly unpleasant experience wherein we discovered my fallopian tubes were AOK.  It was just interesting to see that photo of me in a hospital gown right after taking another photo of me in a hospital gown.  Just sort of put my year in perspective...  there's been a lot of nudity from the waist down, mostly not in a fun way.   There's been an entire solid year of dealing with Infertility.  A year of Dr. Tran.  A year a year a year.  It's almost 2013.

Anyhow, these are the tiny little embryos that are hanging out inside me right now.  Stick, little guys, stick!  I think you're pretty cute and I want you to hang out like forever!  Especially the one on the bottom.  Cause it's clearly the more attractive potential child.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Quickest Update

I'm all ensconced in my little office/cubicle today on my first real work day in this new position.  Wanted to take a super quick break to update everyone on my transfer, since it's tomorrow!  Don't have a ton to say about it, but wanted to at least mention that it was happening - 1:30pm.  So, wish me and my little frozen embryos luck!

I'll post more soon.  Gotta tell you how those butt shots are going, at least.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Two Awesome Things and an FET

Two awesome things happened this week (both on the same day, in fact)!  I got a pretty amazing promotion and I finally successfully ordered that damned Nexus 4 phone.  Of course one of my first thoughts was, "Wow, my luck is finally turning around!  Maybe that means this cycle will work too!"  I don't actually think it works that way, though.  So, I'm trying to celebrate the positive things in my life without attaching them to anything else. If this cycle works, it will be a truly joyous end to 2012, and if it doesn't, well, I don't want that to take away from other accomplishments and good news.

It's been quiet in blog land here because I just haven't had a ton to say.  I was with my family for Thanksgiving, which was awesome, and I'm just sort of chugging through this cycle, which has involved so much less pain stress and hassle than the IVF cycle did.  Why, you might ask?  Well, here ya go:

  • one shot per night vs three shots per night - just the lupron, which is the easiest one, really
  • not growing a million eggs - ovaries not bloated and swollen and painful
  • no monitoring appointments - because i'm not growing a million eggs, i haven't had to go in for blood work and ultrasound (poke and prod) multiple times per week

The way the FET cycle (with my protocol) works is sort of simple.  Basically I'm on the Lupron to suppress my ovaries from doing what they naturally do (ovulate) and I'm on estrogen patches (Vivelle) to trick my uterus into thinking my ovaries are doing what they naturally do so that it develops the lining required for an embryo (or two) to implant.  That's pretty much that!

So, we had our only monitoring appointment for this whole cycle this morning, and it went well.  It was merely a prod, no poke (ultrasound, no blood draw) and it was solely to check the state of my lining and make sure it looked good and I had no fluid in there.  Lining is 8mm (good, apparently) and my ovaries are quiet with no large follicles (also good). We are set to move forward with the transfer.  So, I got my next set of instructions from the nurse, signed consent forms and the transfer was scheduled for Wednesday (December 5th).  We won't know what time until they call us on Monday, but it'll be more towards the middle of the day than last time because they do the Egg Retrievals first then the fresh transfers and then the frozen ones.  These are my instructions for the next weeks...  butt injections start on Saturday night. EEEEEEEEEEEEE.  Anyone been through 'em and wanna tell me how to not be terrified?

As an aside, one thing I found interesting - I woke up this morning with symptoms of ovulation - primarily a back ache.  It made me feel a little bit concerned that maybe the Lupron hadn't worked, but when we saw that I clearly had nothing in my ovaries to ovulate I mentioned it to the nurse practitioner who was doing my ultrasound. She said that yeah, it's normal and just another indication that the estrogen is working and my body really believes I am about to ovulate.  Something about that is really fascinating to my nerd brain.  I think that I just like how this process helps me really understand how my body works and what causes each thing.  When I ovulate each month and my back aches I know now that this is clearly not actually a pain caused by an enlarged ovary or the process of ovulating.  It must be something else.

As another aside, as you can see above, I'll have my pregnancy test on December 19th, which is the day before my birthday.  For our last cycle, I tested on October 19th, which was 4 days after Ian's birthday.

If my test comes back positive, I will have a second test 2 days later to make sure the hCG levels are rising appropriately.  If I am either not pregnant, or am pregnant and everything looks good, we'll be happy on our journey to Switzerland.  If not pregnant, I will drink tons of wine and eat so much non-pasteurized cheese I explode.  If pregnant, I will eat chocolate, and I'll have to be very very careful before I get on the plane to travel back home at the end of the trip.  If I have any any any odd symptoms at all, I'll have to make our friends in Zurich help me go to an Emergency Room for an ultrasound to make sure there's no ectopic pregnancy before I get on a plane and potentially have some rupturing and death occurring during my journey back home.

The third possibility, though, is one that will totally fuck up our trip.  If my pregnancy tests show a pregnancy, but are strange in some way (not high enough, not rising appropriately etc) I will not be able to travel and my trip will be cancelled.  That will suck big old donkey balls, but Ian and I decided it was worth the risk.  (The only other option would be to cancel this cycle entirely.  No thank you.)

With that, I shall sign off.  But first, here are some fine images to show you the State of Sharon's Mid-Section (both taken in my work bathroom, cause I'm classy like that).

This is my belly (as of a couple of days ago).  Here you shall see some bruises from where I've hit blood vessels (the one that you can barely see is now as big and purple as the one that is more visible in this photo) and my 4 estrogen patches along with a bunch of leftover adhesive from the previous patches.  I finally went yesterday and got some baby oil and scrubbed all that adhesive off before applying 4 fresh patches last night. 

And here's my back!  I have one of these circles drawn with sharpie on each side (by the nurse) so Ian knows where to aim the Progesterone injections.  He was told that he has to be quick and basically throw them in like a dart (without letting go like you would with an actual dart).  Good times. You can see that this isn't really my butt, it's more my hip/almost back.  Whatevs.  Butt enough.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The No New Phone Blues

This morning I woke up bright and early to try to get my hands on a Nexus 4, 16GB phone.  I broke my phone two weeks ago and have been using an old one with limited functionality.  (It seemed super fancy when I got it 2.5 years ago).  It has almost no storage and the headphone jack doesn't work.  Since almost all of my music listening happens through my phone, this has been frustrating, but ya's just a phone.  Ain't no big deal.  Especially cause I knew I could buy the new Nexus 4 this morning and it was just a couple of weeks to hold out.

Last night, Ian warned me it sold out in Australia pretty quickly.  So, this morning I woke up bright and early and ready to go.  As soon as it was time and the phone was available, I hit the button and added it to my cart.  And the website went nuts and stopped working and it disappeared from my cart.  I hit refresh for about 5 more minutes until it showed up as available again, put it in my cart and the same thing happened.  Then it was gone.  Sold out.

Well, maybe this doesn't sound so traumatic to you, but I was, first, violently angry.  Then I got in the shower and cried my eyes out.  A little bit dramatic, perhaps?  Yes, I thought so too.  So, why?

First of all, I think there is some PMS happening here, so I'm sure everything I'm feeling is somewhat hormonal.  I stopped taking my birth control pill on Saturday night and am expecting a period any minute now and have some signs that it's on the way.

But, I think, also, this was such a little thing and such a not big deal that I allowed myself to feel a disappointment over it that I haven't really let myself feel much of when it comes to bigger things in my life.  Then, as soon as I let that disappointment in, it just washed over me along with the water in the shower (how poetic).  I have had a fuck of a lot of disappointments over the past year.  Fertility stuff being primary, but professional stuff too.  Big professional stuff.  Disappointments that I don't deserve, if I do say so myself, on any front.   Every time I start to feel like things are going my way, something else that I expected to go right, goes wrong.

I think that most days I just can't allow myself to dwell.  If I dwell on the let downs and the losses, how can I keep going forward?  How can I keep, for example, sticking needles into my stomach every night without guarantee that it just won't just lead to more of the same feeling of disappointment?  How can I invest time and energy preparing for the interview that I have on Thursday without that same guarantee?  I'm not a quitter, but disappointment sort of makes me want to quit, so, I think I push it away really quickly.  Today, though, it's sort of lingering and I feel cranky and crabby and scared and I don't know what to do with any of it.  Fucking Nexus 4.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Plans for Frosty the Embryo

I've had a cold for a week and a half and it's really tiring.  I started my Lupron injections on Monday night, and the sleeplessness/restlessness kicked in solid a couple of nights ago.  So, physically, I'm not feeling my best.   I also haven't really been in the mood to write - have been trying to get to this post for days, for example.  I'm not sure why, except I think I'm just tired and sick, so it takes a lot of energy to get done the stuff I have to do (work and professional commitments), it leaves little for the stuff that is for me.  Which this blog is supposed to be.

This morning, through bleary eyes, I'm gonna finish this danged thing up!


We met with Dr. Tran on Wednesday to go over our failed IVF cycle and to talk about our upcoming FET cycle and other potential future plans.  I have said it before, and I'll say it again, but I love Dr. Tran for his straightforward manner, his sense of humor, his honesty, and his desire to really share all of the details of things with us while guiding us in making decisions, but not deciding for us.  So, he showed us all the data from our IVF cycle - the follicles I had, the expected number of eggs, the actual eggs etc.  He said the only thing that he felt disappointed about what that I really only had 10 m2 (mature) eggs, and it had looked, based on my follicles, that I'd have closer to 15 or 20.  We were still in the range he had estimated for us (10-20), so it's not a concern, just was a disappointment for him.   My estrogen levels got pretty high toward the end of the cycle, but not high enough, obviously, to cancel the cycle, and he feels like those levels were appropriate for the number of eggs that I had.

On the plus side, our fertilization was excellent.  On this front, we out-performed averages and his estimates for us in that 100% of our mature eggs fertilized and 100% lived to day 3.  Of those 10 embryos, we transferred two last time, and will thaw and transfer two more this time.

Our clinic grades the embryos with 3 numbers, and I got to see them for all our embryos.  The first number is how many cells the embryo has.  On day 3, 8 cells is grand.  6 or 7 is AOK.  Below that is less ideal, but potentially still fine.  Ours were mostly 7s and 8s.  We had a few 9s and a couple of 6s (if I remember correctly).  The second thing they look at is symmetry and the third thing they look at is fragmentation.  On both of those scales, our embryos fared pretty well.  No amazing perfect ones, but none that were duds either.  So we have a whole batch of good embryos.  Again, he is a little disappointed that none were AMAZING EXCELLENT, but this is still a great result.

I asked him some of the things I was curious about - How do we decide what day to transfer?  (Answer: it really is much more flexible than during our IVF cycle and can be determined a little by schedule.)  How many do you thaw?  (Just as many as you plan to transfer.)  What if they don't survive the thaw?  (There is time to thaw more if that happens.)

So, our plan is to transfer 2 embryos during the first week of December (I'm hoping for early in the week, so it doesn't affect our travel to Switzerland later in the month in terms of when I have to take my beta tests).   And we are going to add a couple of things this time.

1.  Assisted Hatching - Dr. Tran doesn't necessarily think this is required for us, but it can't hurt and it might give our guys a better chance of implanting.  Because of our long history of infertility (I hate even writing that, but let's face facts, it's a reality at this point) he feels like this is not a bad path to follow.  When I asked if there was any down side he said, "Just on your wallets."  Ok, so we are in.  Assisted Hatching (AH) basically just means that the embryologist will give the embryos' shells a bit of a poke just in case a thick shell is causing implantation issues.  It's so funny to realize that we hatch out of shell, sort of like chicks, just at a much much earlier stage in our development.

 2.  hCG Wash - I can't find very much about this on the various Internets, but Dr. Tran says that they have had some success with this for FETs and it seems like it's sort of a cutting edge new thing that's being done some places.  Basically since we aren't doing an hCG trigger shot, he's just gonna shoot some hCG up in there during the transfer.  This can help to make sure that my uterus is ready for some implantation.

At our clinic, the doctors rotate weeks in terms of who does the actual procedures (monitoring, transfers, and retrievals) and we are excited that Dr. Tran will be the actual doctor on duty the week of our FET.

The only other news is good news!  Dr. Tran told me that if I get pregnant, he'll let me switch from the PIO shots back to Crinone (the Vagina Glue), so I won't have to be doing those giant needles in the butt for potentially months and months!  I was so happy I almost cried.

We also discussed future plans if this FET doesn't work.  There is the potential to thaw embryos and let them grow for a couple more days to the blastocyst stage.  At this point they can remove cells without damaging the embryos and do genetic testing on them.   This can allow for a more accurate picture of which embryos are "best" and most likely to implant and survive.  So, it's something to think about.  It, of course, adds cost, and there is also the potential of losing embryos if you keep them growing outside of the body.  But the longer you go on the path of no success, the more these costs stop outweighing the benefits.  Just something for us to think about as we move forward.

In the meantime, Ian and I have done so little travel this past year compared to a normal year, because of all of this and we realized that we hadn't stayed in a hotel together since February, when we were in Tahoe with friends.  So we are going to Sonoma tonight when I get off work, just for one night to stay in a hotel, eat delicious dinner and brunch, and pick-up wine at a pick-up party at the winery where we are members.

Here's a tiny short video about Assisted Hatching, and a tiny short video that actually shows an embryo being hatched with assistance.  I love this shit.  #sciencenerd

Friday, November 2, 2012

Box o' Drugs - The Return

Halloween was a day of excitement among my successful baby-making friends.  One friend gave birth to a spooky Halloween baby boy and another found out that her unborn baby is a boy baby!  

In the meantime, for the less successful,  the excitement comes in the form of drugs.  DRUGS.  WOOHOO!

Brand New Box of Drugs!

You may recognize this Lupron from past posts filled with drug pix.

This is new.  This is my Progesterone (in sesame oil).  I will inject this in my bum daily (and by *I*, I mean Ian) starting  around the time of the transfer and continuing through a first trimester, if a first trimester occurs from this transfer.

And this lovely photo shows the difference between the size of the needles I used in my last cycle in my stomach (the bottom needle), which I will use again for Lupron, and the size of the needle that will be used in my ass daily for the Progesterone (the top needle).  Yes, it does need to go all the way in.  Jealous yet?

Valium again for the transfer, and Medrol, a steroid, again to stop my body from rejecting embryos as foreign matter.

Vivelle is the Estrogen patch I'll be using.  I start with one patch at a time, but end up using four patches at a time.  That'll continue for 10 weeks into a pregnancy, if the FET works.

And that's pretty much that.  I haven't posted much cause there hasn't really been anything to report.  People occasionally ask me "how is the fertility stuff going?" and when they do, I am so grateful that so many people read this blog and don't have to ask.  It's just a hard question to answer.

  • "Well, not pregnant yet!"
  • "The hormones and injections are awesome, thanks for asking!"
  • "I haven't had a good night's sleep in 6 months.  YAY!"
  • "I am managing to stay out of deep dark despairs of depression, barely."
  • "So far, failure!"
  • etc.

But ya know...I'm mostly joking.  I am glad people care enough to ask and I am happy to talk about it.  It just makes me feel like a bit of a downer, and I'm just gladder that many people who care enough don't have to ask.  

Hall and Oates hope you had a happy happy Halloween!

So does this scary scary witch.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My life: November 04, 2012 - December 08, 2012

Alright, detail oriented peeps, who really like to track my every movement.  Here's my calender for the first half of my Frozen Embryo Transfer cycle.  Doesn't look that much less complicated than my IVF calender, but let me tell you that I will not miss those Menopur and Follistim shots, nor the slowly growing ovaries of doom that went along with them.  I also would not have missed the loopy Lupron that makes me sleepless and insane, but alas, apparently my stomach will not be spared those nightly injections this time around.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Where do we go from here?

The first, and very most important point of this blog post is to tell everyone how incredibly overwhelmed and touched I was by all the support I got on Friday and beyond.  I didn't reply to most of you (I don't know that I really replied to any of you) because I just sort of couldn't.  I probable never will, but I want you to know that every comment on the blog, every comment on the facebook page, every twitter reply, every text, every word or touch or hug in person and every email made my load a little bit lighter to carry, and for that I am incredibly grateful.  I am so so lucky to have so many people who care about me and Ian and I wouldn't trade my life, the good or the bad, for anyone else's.  Not in my darkest moments.   

I still feel sad and I have my moments of real grief, but I am feeling a lot better than I was, generally.  Aside from all the love and support, which was a huge help, I also felt much better after a phone call with my nurse, Olga, allowed me to start looking forward very quickly.  This provided me with exactly what I needed to stop merely dwelling on our failure, and to start looking at what our next steps will be.

Ian and I were anticipating having to wait several more months before we were able to jump into this.  We travel for Thanksgiving, for Christmas/New Year's, and I have my ALA Midwinter Meetings in January.  We figured that the clinic would want us to take a break between cycles and then all of this travel would kick in.  Well, it turns out that break isn't needed.  It seems that we can move straight into a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET).  Hurrah!  

Olga spoke to Dr. Tran and called me back and said that he wanted to give me the option of a controlled cycle or a natural one.  With a natural cycle, everything is timed with my body's own natural cycle (hence the clever name).  The only medication I would be on is the Medrol (the steroid that helps keep my body from rejecting embryos as foreign material) and the Valium for the actual transfer.   With a controlled cycle, also cleverly named, my cycle is controlled by medication.  In this case I would be on birth control pills, similar to my IVF cycle, as well as an Estrogen patch and Progesterone injections.   I would not be on all the stims I was on in my fresh cycle, as I will not be trying to create a gazillion eggs in my tiny ovaries, and will not be going in with a needle to remove said eggs.  This is just a far less invasive procedure, pretty much like the second half of my IVF cycle - everything that happened *after* the retrieval.  

Anyhow, Olga and I agreed that because of the complications of my travel, if we wanted to get started right away, we would need to do a controlled cycle.  This way we could make a calender that will work with when I'm out of town.  I was told to start birth control on day 2 of my cycle, to call her and let her know when I get my period (it should start when I stop progesterone support), and she would work on a calender.

Well, apparently for some women it can take a week or 10 days to get their period when they stop the progesterone.  For me?  Three hours after my first missed dose.  So, there's that.  What does this mean?  It means I'm already on Cycle Day 4!  Olga will send me a calender today and we'll chat about it tomorrow.  Fingers super duper crossed that she can make it work for us!  

I am super nervous about the progesterone butt shots.  They are referred to as PIO because it is literally Progesterone in Oil.  Usually peanut oil.  These are injections that are very very different than the stomach ones I did before.  They are much longer and thicker needles, and they have to go into the top side of my butt.  Every single night.   I hear they hurt like a mofo.  I really wanted to avoid them.  But, apparently I did not want to avoid them enough to postpone this process.

And I guess that's just it.  There is a lot I am actually willing to do.  If that hasn't become quite obvious already.  So, we meet with Dr. Tran on November 7th and at that point I'll have more information about how an FET works.  I am curious how many embryos they thaw and how many they want to transfer etc.  We have 8 of them frozen, but I know not all necessarily survive the thawing process.  I'm curious for more details.  I have a phone date with Olga tomorrow to go over the calender, too, so at that point I'll have more information about what the timing of this will look like.

Olga told me that she and Dr. Tran have no reason to believe that this won't work for us eventually.  I am still young.  I responded really well to everything.  Sometimes it just takes a few tries.   

So, anyhow, yeah.  FET coming up.  If it isn't successful we'll see where we go from there.  I feel willing to potentially do another full IVF cycle and whatever frozen cycles that one would provide, if we don't have success with this one.  But, at the same time, I think I'll want to start talking Plan B at that point, simultaneously.  I'm getting ahead of myself here, though.  I really do hope we don't get to that point.  Man, though, is hope a motherfucker lately.  

Monday, October 22, 2012

Stupid Stork Vlog Challenge

Ok, so this is a little silly, and I don't think anyone who knows me will want to watch this whole thing.  Or anyone else, necessarily.   But, basically, I've been becoming more active in the world of infertility blogging, and this video is a challenge that was issued by Stupid Stork.  I am doing it because it is really nice for me to see the faces and hear the voices of the women whose journeys I am following, so I wanted to give them that opportunity with me.  It really is a lovely and amazing thing - the support one can get from strangers who are in the midst of similar struggles.  Between that and the support of family and friends, I can't help but feel incredibly lucky, even through the hardest of times.

Speaking of... I do have another update coming in the next 24 hours in terms of how I'm feeling and what is actually going on with me.

But for now, embarrassing video ahoy!

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Cat is Dead

I woke up in the middle of the night last night with a migraine and knew it was over.  It's my sure-fire tell-tale sign that my period is about to come.  Until that moment I had been so hopeful that all my symptoms meant I was maybe actually pregnant.

This morning, as planned, I took a home pregnancy test.  The result was negative.  My first IVF was not successful.   I took an Exederin.  Not on the approved list.

Ian and I had about an hour together before he left for work.  When he walked out the door, I lost it.  He got off his shuttle at the next stop and came back home to me.  He took me to the lab to get my blood drawn for the hCG beta test that I know is going to come back a big fat 0.   He dropped me off at work and took the car to Google.  And here I am.  I don't know if I'll be able to answer the phone when the nurse calls with my results.  Although I do want to know what our next steps are.   I still took my estrodiol this morning.  I still inserted my progesterone.  For some reason I feel like I shouldn't stop until they actually call and tell me to.

So this, right now, is when I start to feel conflicted about how open I've been about all of this.  At least now you will all know why I am sort of not OK...why my eyes are red and I am so sad and so quiet.  But at the same time, I know so many people were rooting for us, and I feel like I've let everyone down.   I posted on twitter this morning, "First ivf = failure.  Not pregnant.  Don't really want to talk about it, so if you see me, let's not."   And I don't.  I don't want to talk about it.  I am reminded of my last major breakup, a gazillion years ago.  That sense of wanting everyone to hear the bad news at once...not wanting to have to tell the sad story over and over again.

This hurts more than I thought it would.  So very very much more than any time in the past.  I feel like my heart is breaking.  I can't really breathe.  I know it won't feel like this forever, but it feels like this today.   I don't know how many times I can put myself through this.  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ian is Smarter Than I am

Ian and I had been wondering from what point in our cycle is the % of success close to 50%.  Do 50% of people who start a cycle have a baby?  Or is it more like close to 50% of people who make it to transfer with super awesome embryos like ours have a baby?  So, today I found the page with all these very specific statistics about our clinic (linked if you are interested).  Of course, these are just averages and may have nothing to do with what our specific doctor thought our chances were in our specific case.

Anyhow, I sent it to Ian.

"Interesting.  Yet frustratingly empty of answers as to what is happening for US!" says Ian.

Instantly summing up my life the last week of frantic and near constant Internet searching.

Why is he so much smarter than I am?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I Don't Wanna Wait in Pain

This waiting is torturous.  I am now 11dp3dt, or 14dpo.  Totally could test today.  But still want to wait till the Beta on Friday.  Which makes me sort of insane feeling.  It's torture to not know, but I'm not ready to know.  Ya know?  I have had cramps off and on pretty much this whole two week wait, and as it gets closer and closer to test day, I react worse and worse to each one.  It's just hard to imagine a different outcome than the one we've had every time so far.  So, even though I know how common cramping is in early pregnancy, and even though I know progesterone also causes cramping, every time I feel a strong cramp I get a horrible sinking feeling that this did not work because it feels like every single other cycle that did not work in the past.

Other current symptoms:
* Extreme exhaustion that hits in the afternoon/evening.  This is the sort of exhaustion where I feel like I need to pry my eyes open, Clockwork Orange style, to get through the day.  It reminds me of being in my 20s and going out partying and dancing till all hours of the morning and then dragging myself to work the next day.  But without the partying and instead with the laying on the couch and the going to bed early the night before.
* Food aversion - Not to anything in particular, but sort of to food in general.  Maybe loss of appetite is a better description.
* Nausea - it's not terrible and it is in and out, but it comes, in particular, after I drink my morning coffee, after I take my Estradiol pill, and after I eat a little bit.
* Previously mentioned cramping - ranging from sudden strong sharp pains that come and go relatively quickly, to an almost constant dull ache that feels closer to how I feel when I ovulate than how I feel when I have my period, with occasional short spurts of very period-like cramps.
* Sore boobs - still.  Hasn't gone away since before my transfer.  At this point I wake up in the night because I'm sleeping on my stomach and it's hurting them too much.

I guess I'm just chronicling this for my own future reference, mostly.  I know these things could mean ANYTHING.  There are as many sets of symptoms as there are pregnant women.   And I'm also giving myself two out of the three hormones that cause these symptoms in pregnant women (Progesterone and Estrogen.  I am not giving myself hCG, which is the other cause of symptoms.)  So, I'm trying really hard to not over-analyze and to relax.  I did great over the weekend.  It's so much harder at work.  Two more days.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Peeing on Schrödinger's Cat

The other night, in the midst of a long discussion about if and when I should take a home pregnancy test, Ian remarked, when he finally really got exactly why and how I was going back and forth about it in my mind, that it was totally like Schrödinger's Cat.  

So, to start, for those who don't know who this Schrödinger dude is, and what his cat has to do with anything, here's the shortest ever summary, leaving out all the complicated quantum physics parts:

It's a thought experiment. (No actual cats are harmed in the thinking about Schrödinger's cat.  In fact, I'm pretty sure Schrödinger didn't even have a cat.)  You've got a cat, you've got a box, you've got some sort of unstable radioactive thing that could kill the cat.  Or it could not.  The cat is in the box with the radioactive thing.  The box is closed.  Is the cat dead or alive? Until you open the box, the cat is both dead and alive.  Once you open the box, the cat is clearly one or the other.  And when you add in the quantum physics, there's the idea that by opening the box you affect the outcome of whether the cat is dead or alive.  

OK, I am not a physicist (quantum or otherwise).  I'm a librarian.  So, I don't really need to understand it any further than that for it to help me resolve and understand how I'm feeling about things.

Here's the situation.  I am 8dp3dt.  When Ian and I had this chat I was 6dp3dt.  I get my Beta test (the blood test that is done to check for hCG in my bloodstream that would indicate a pregnancy) on 14dp3dt.   But 14dp is actually 3 days later than it *really* needs to be done.  It is commonly done 14dpo (days past ovulation).  My transfer was already 3 days past ovulation.  It seems, from the Internets, that many/most clinics do Beta tests on day 11 or 12pt.  This makes sense because at this point the hCG should be fully detectable.  This is the same time I had my tests done during my IUIs and it's the same time home pregnancy tests should be able to pick things up.  It's 14dpo aka the day your period is due.  If you look at the chart I posted the other day, you can see that as of today, if I am pregnant and this cycle was a success, hCG is being produced.  People start to get positive home pregnancy tests as early as 7dpt.  Some, of course, don't test positive at home until after the Beta test (which is much more sensitive).  So, false negatives are relatively common.  False positive do not actually exist (once the trigger shot is out of your system).  A false positive generally means that you *were* pregnant, but no longer are - a chemical pregnancy, or super early miscarriage has likely occurred.

ANYHOW.  That's a lot of background info.  

Ian and I have, in past IUI cycles, used a home pregnancy test (otherwise known as an HPT or POAS (peeing on a stick)) the morning of my Beta (or the morning before, if one of us was going to be away the morning of) so that we would get relatively reliable results at home together, as opposed to me getting a phone call from a doctor or nurse in the middle of my work day.  In the past, these results have always been negative.  I have never seen a positive HPT nor had a positive Beta result.  

Well, this two week wait is dragging far slower than any other ever has.  First of all, this is the first time ever that I've KNOWN we have a fertilized egg (2, in fact) in there.  This is the closest to pregnant I've ever been.  Also, obviously, the IVF was so much more of an investment in terms of time, in terms of money, physically, emotionally etc etc.  And the success rates are far higher than IUI.  And, let's be honest, I'm sort of attached to those 2 embryos.  Not attached like I love them and will mourn them as individuals if this doesn't work, but beginning to be attached the same way I imagine most pregnant women become attached to the aliens growing inside of them as soon as they are aware they are there.  I was just aware far earlier than anyone could possibly be if they weren't placed in there by catheter!   I have a picture of them!  I realize that there is a huge chance those 2 embryos won't turn into a pregnancy or into live human babies, so any hope I have is very cautious.  The attachment, however, is not really stoppable.  

So, the question that I posed to Ian was: Do we take an HPT and when?  

I explained to him all that I've explained here about days post transfer and when a home test is likely to be reliable.  We talked about at what point I would actually believe a negative result and how we would feel if we got a negative and then the Beta came back positive and how many days between those two things would we want to leave for that potential unnecessary sadness.  We also talked about the torture that is waiting (particularly for me, since I am unable to put this out of my mind, as it is happening inside of my body and I have, every single minute, so many physical symptoms, any of which could be either pregnancy, pms, or side effects from progesterone).  

At some point in all this talking Ian hit the point of, "OK, then maybe we should take the test at 12dp3dt (Wednesday) or 13dp3dt (Thursday)" and I suddenly realized how scared I was to actually POAS and I tried to explain to him why.  I explained that in a way it's total superstition, because I know that already either I am pregnant, or I am not.  That there's a little bit of wanting to delay the inevitable (because I think I can't imagine it won't be negative, because it has ALWAYS been negative), but that also I almost feel like by choosing to POAS too soon I am creating the negative result.  Clearly, not logical, but deep deep deeply felt by me.  I am basically both desperate to find out and terrified to find out and it's a constant battle going on.  When Ian suggested that we think about it and revisit this on Wednesday morning and decide if we want to do it them or wait, my brain started going crazy and I had to explain that the whole point of this conversation is that I need to decide and know so that I can stop thinking about at least this one aspect of things.

And then Ian, of course, points out the cat.  Basically, I am scared that by taking a home pregnancy test, I am going to kill the cat (make the result negative).  Right now the cat is both dead and alive (I am both pregnant and not pregnant) and the box is closed up tight.  Once I open the box (take the test) the cat is either dead or alive.  

I finally said, "Honestly, I think the most mentally healthy choice for me is to wait until the Beta test.  Or in our situation, to wait until the morning of the Beta test so we find out together."  And he agreed.  So, for now, I am both pregnant and not pregnant.  The cat is both dead and alive.  And will remain that way until Friday, 14dp3dt, 17dpo.

Unless I change my mind.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

5dp3dt - Hello Out There

Today is my first successful (I assume, although the day is not done yet) full day back at work.  I have found myself spending some downtime googling "5dp3dt" just to see what other people have to say about this day in their lives.  I don't know why it provides such comfort, but it really really does.  It's sort of funny to think that some random other person, years from now, may find this post in the exact same way.  Maybe they too will then click frantically ahead to see if this cycle worked out for me, the same way I click ahead to see what happened to the other women whose blogs I stumble upon that take me back in time to their 5dp3dt.  They might find themselves rooting for me, as if it's a sign that they found my blog on this day and what happens to me means something to them - as if it gives them a little bit of a glimpse into their own future, and they want to see that news they are dying to see for themselves on my page for the brief hint of hope it provides.  They might fear seeing that my cycle did not work and then click even further ahead in this blog for reassurance that something worked for me eventually, just as they so desperately hope and believe it will for them.

Turns out it's pretty common to feel a little bit bored with it all right now - there is nothing really to report and it seems like a long long time before it's time to take a pregnancy test.  Because I'm on progesterone and estradiol, I don't even bother to try to interpret anything I feel as anything other than side effects from those hormones.   My sleep is very interrupted again, like it was when I was on the Lupron.  Last night I had a dream that was all about my newborn baby boy peeing all over me and all over everything and I couldn't stop it and I didn't have any of the supplies you need for a baby and I was confused as to why I suddenly had a baby and I couldn't stop the peeing and get what I needed.  Sort of classic anxiety dream format, but with a baby instead of a test for a class I forgot I was enrolled in or whatever.

Right now I am pregnant until proven otherwise (PUPO).  Today my embryos might be beginning to implant.  Did I just feel it happening?   I am turning more and more into a hippie during this two week wait.  Surrounding myself with love and light and laughter and happiness and music, all with thoughts of these embryos and how much love I have ready for them if they just decide to stick around (as if they are just in there thinking about it - making a decision that I can influence by convincing them that this is the exact world they want to enter).  Thinking positive thoughts.  Lighting candles.  Feeling clean and pure and wholesome and good.  I have no control over this part of the process, and I don't know what else I can do.  I just want to protect them as best I can and give them the best chance.  It's probably crazy, I know.  But it makes me feel better.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Vagina Glue + Sticky Embryos

In case the title of this blog post isn't enough warning,  I will tell you right now that this post qualifies as #oversharon.  It's a little TMI if you find this sort of thing to be more information than you desire.  I will tell you when TMI starts and ends, at least.

So, at this point in the cycle, progesterone is very important.  It helps make the uterine lining thick and delightful, so the embryos will want to stick.  On the fertility boards everyone talks about hoping that things are "sticky" which means that the embryos actually implant which = pregnancy.  People send "sticky thoughts" and "sticky vibes" etc.  So, the progesterone helps make things sticky.  That's its job.  There are, as I've mentioned before, two main ways to take progesterone.  One is PIO (Progesterone in Oil) that is injected into the top and side of the butt with a large needle on a daily basis.  The other is in a gel that is inserted vaginally.  That's the goop I went for.  And I do mean goop.  I've started just calling it my vagina glue, because in addition to its job being to keep things "sticky" it does so by actually sticking to the walls of the vagina so the progesterone can be absorbed that way.

Skip this if you gross out easily:
But, here's what they don't tell you before you decide on the goop.  It basically stays up there and turns into these weird balls of sort of a cross between a cotton ball and cottage cheese and it just kinds of builds up until you reach in and get it out.  Which I've just taken to doing each morning in the shower - it requires a pretty deep dig and full finger sweep.  Fertility treatments are not for those uncomfortable with their bodies, that's for sure.  It's amazing to see what comes out each day - texture/color/amount.
/gross out

Anywho.  I found myself curious, pretty quickly (I'm sure you're not shocked), to figure out what my two little embryos were doing in there.  The Internet gave me this handy dandy chart for what's going on with embryos based on number of days post a 3-day transfer (which is what I had).  They also have a chart for 5-day transfers, so you can click off to check that out.  Hey, wanna learn some more lingo?  Ok!  Today I am 2dp3dt (two days past three day transfer).

Days Past
Transfer (DPT)
 Embryo Development
 OneThe embryo continues to grow and develop, turning from a 6-8 cell embryo into a morula
 TwoThe cells of the morula continue to divide, developing into a blastocyst
 ThreeThe blastocyst begins to hatch out of its shell 
 FourThe blastocyst continues to hatch out of its shell and begins to attach itself to the uterus
 FiveThe blastocyst attaches deeper into the uterine lining, beginning implantation 
 SixImplantation continues
 SevenImplantation is complete, cells that will eventually become the placenta and fetus have begun to develop 
 EightHuman chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) starts to enter the blood stream 
 NineFetal development continues and hCG continues to be secreted 
 TenFetal development continues and hCG continues to be secreted  
 ElevenLevels of hCG are now high enough to detect a pregnancy 

So, according to the chart, my embryos are morulas (yeah, I had to look it up, too, don't worry) and are turning into blastocysts.  Tomorrow they start to hatch!

This is an awesome time lapse video of a fertilized egg developing up to day 6 (aka just about where mine are now, if they're still alive in there).  Sort of rad, eh?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Super Embryos

So, we went in this morning for our transfer and got the best news ever:

All 10 of our embryos survived to day 3 and all 10 were of very high quality!  This is truly best possible scenario.  On average something like 70% survive to day 3 and the quality can be quite variable.  I had high hopes for maybe 5 decent ones, so we'd have enough to freeze for one potential future frozen transfer.  But in this case, we were able to freeze 8 of them!  This is 3-4 potential future frozen embryo transfers!  Ian and I just feel so good about what this means for us in this process.  It means that we have a lot more chances, without having to go through the injections and egg retrieval again.  It also means that if this works on the first try, we have future frozen babies to try for later if we want more children.  It means this is not our absolutely final shot.

Soooo....the process of the transfer was like somewhere between the egg retrieval and IUI in terms of how it all works.  It definitely wasn't as intense as the ER - I wasn't put to sleep and it wasn't a surgery.  It was closer to the IUI in that it was a catheter inserting something into my uterus.  But it was more involved than IUI and took place in the same part of the clinic as the ER - attached to the lab (which makes good sense).

So, I was instructed to take a Valium and drink a shit load of water an hour ahead of time so my bladder would be full and my uterus relaxed.   By the time I got there I seriously thought I was going to pee my pants.  They put me in a similar outfit to what I wore for the ER and this time I made sure to get a picture of my booties.

This time, Ian also got an outfit, since he got to come in with me for the transfer.  We had a lot of the same nurses around, which was nice, cause they all remembered us and were super friendly.  The really nice one even said she was glad she was there again so she could see this end of our process and they all wished us luck.

In the meantime, there was some sort of emergency and Dr. Rosen was running a little late and I was near tears with the having to pee, so they sent me to pee out some small amount of my bladder.  Which is not, by the way, that easy to do.  It helped, though, a little.  I felt great relief when I saw Dr. Rosen appear and minutes later they brought me into the room.  (By the way, there was a dude sitting next to me in the waiting area who had just had some testicular procedure done that did not sound fun.)  I mentioned that the bladder was still feeling REALLY full and they sent me back out to pee out a few more drops.

At this point Dr. Rosen told us about our embryos with some details of their quality and told us we would transfer 2.  They do 3 if the quality isn't great, in order to increase chances of one sticking, but in our case, 2 is the right number, because they want to really reduce the risk of multiples.  Our clinic prides itself on having high success levels with low numbers of multiples.  Which I appreciate.  Then he gave us this photo to keep.

These are the embryos that are inside me now!  So crazy!!!  Cute little guys, eh?  (Or girls?  Or girl and guy?)

Then basically they used an ultrasound on my belly so he could clearly see my uterus as he guided the catheter into the right spot and sent in the embryos.  After, he had the lab tech check the catheter and make sure both embryos had actually come out, which they had, and then he sent me on my way.  On my way equaled straight to the bathroom where I peed forever.  Then I inserted my progesterone gel for the day and left.

So, I've been taking steroids for the past 4 days and have 1 day to go (these help prevent my body from rejecting the embryos).  I'll be inserting the progesterone (started yesterday) for the next two weeks and then longer if my pregnancy test is positive.  Starting tomorrow I take 2 estradiol pills a day, also for two weeks and then longer if positive (these things are both to make my uterine lining delightful for embryo implantation).  So, side effects ahoy, still.  I take a blood pregnancy test two weeks from today, so it'll be a long two weeks.  It's the closest I've ever been to actually being pregnant in that I KNOW I have fertilized eggs inside my uterus at the moment.

I have to continue to take it easy in terms of heavy lifting and exercise for the next two weeks and can't have sex before the pregnancy test.  I feel a lot lot better today, although still a little sore and heavy in my lower abdomen.

Yesterday I felt good enough to take a little adventure into the city to see friends and meet teeny tiny baby Henry.  Made me really happy.  Tonight,  I think I'm going to go to a movie cause I'm ready to be out of this house, and tomorrow it's back to work for me.  I also am going to do a tiny bit of shopping.  This whole process has made me feel so icky in my skin - bloated, weight gained, unable to exercise etc - that I feel like a few cute new things can't hurt.

Oh, also, I got a giant bruise on my hand from the IV.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fertilization Report

Alright, just heard from the nurse.  Of our 16 eggs, 12 were mature.  And of the 12 that were mature, 10 fertilized.  This is awesome!  So, we've got 10 little embryos in a little petri dish!  Or, more likely, in 10 little petri dishes!  I dunno, actually.  Do they like to hang together or do they need their space?

So we'll go in on Friday at 10:15am for the transfer.  Some will likely not make it to day three, and we won't know the quality of the embryos until then, and that will help determine how many we transfer.  I hope they are all Grade A perfect little embryos!

It is so so weird to think that there are little 2 celled (probably) organisms sitting in a lab that could someday be our child!  Science is fucking awesome.

Egg Retrieval Reportback

So, Monday night I was ordered to "relax and have a drink", as it was the only day in this whole process where I had no meds at all to take.  I couldn't eat or drink anything (not even a sip of water) after midnight, so I had to keep remembering to not quench my thirst in the night and morning. I also had to go to bed early and rest up for the ER (Egg Retrieval), so that's pretty much what I did.  We had a friend in town (who will hopefully be moving with his family to Alameda soon soon soon) so we at least got to have dinner and margaritas and give him a little driving tour of our town.

In the meantime, the baby whose birth I was meant to be at decided to make his amazing beautiful appearance right when I couldn't be there.  I am dying to meet him and pissed/sad that my IVF fucked this up.  But, I also am viewing it as a positive omen.  Babies babies babies!!!

In other positive omens, I have two different fertility candles that have been given to me by folks who now have babies, and I've lit them both a lot in the last couple of days.  Can't hurt!

Anyhow, I woke up Tuesday morning, put on some sweatpants and headed into the city.  When we got there, we checked in and they sent us up to the 8th floor, where all the labs are (this is where Ian has always "produced").  They took us into a room where I changed into a gown, hairnet, and weird hospital booties over my socks.

I sat in a comfy chair while they inserted my IV and asked me a bunch of questions.

I met the anesthesiologist and he asked some more questions and told me all about the drugs I'd be getting during and after the procedure.  Then they brought me into the room where it was all going to happen.  It was connected directly to the lab, and a dude in the lab peered over and said hello.  The way it works is that they go in with a needle, guided by ultrasound, through the wall of the vagina and into each ovary, and aspirate each follicle in each ovary.  Each follicle's follicular fluid goes straight into a test tube and directly to the lab where they look for an egg.  In an ideal world, each follicle has a mature egg.  But that's not always the case.

In the meantime, Ian was taken to the semen production land where he produced some semen, so the ICSI could happen right away.

So, back at ER, I laid down, legs up in an unladylike position and they gave me oxygen in my nose.  Once I was all settled in the anesthesiologist said he was going to start the medication and I might start to feel sleepy.  I remember the ceiling looking a little funny and then the next thing I remember, I was in the recovery area.  I was out completely.  I remember a nurse asking if I wanted Ian to come in now, and I said, "sure" and another nurse wrote a number on my hand and said something like, "I do that because people tend to forget when I just tell them" and I was confused and out of it and it took me awhile to realize that this was the number of eggs they'd retrieved.

At some point Dr. Rosen came by and said it went really well.  He also told me that I talked A LOT during the retrieval, which was news to me because I have no conscious awareness or remembrance of anything at all.  I asked what I said - was I asking questions (cause that sounds like me) or what - and he said it was mostly mumbling and nonsense.  Awesome/embarrassing.

So, I drank some juice and ate some crackers and once I could sit and then stand without being too shaky, they sent me on my way.

By the time I arrived home I was in pretty bad pain.  There was no position that was comfortable - laying down, sitting down, standing.  Could really barely walk.  Pretty much spent the day laying around feeling sorry for myself, sleeping off and on, with Ian waiting on me hand and foot.   Cause he's awesome.  He's so awesome in fact, that right now I am watching every episode of the show he had previously forbidden from being watched in our house:

Today I feel a little better.  Still in some pain, especially when I move around or go to the bathroom.  But it's improving.  So, now we wait to hear how our little eggs fared when they met their friends, the sperm.  In an ideal situation an average of 70% will successfully fertilize.  In about 1% of cases, none will fertilize.  We, obviously, hope to be closer to that 70%, but anything can happen.  If everything looks good, we will transfer 2-3 on Friday, day 3 of their "lives".  Some will die between now and then, but hopefully many will survive and we'll have some to transfer and some to freeze.  

So, I await the call.  I will keep you posted.