Wednesday, December 31, 2008

We're Off--Maybe and New Years Resolution

I called CCRM today to ask about the packet that I have not yet received in the mail. AF is supposed to arrive soon and with the holiday weekend coming up, I thought I should find out what to do once she arrives. After trying to estimate when the witch will come we decided to schedule our one day work-up for Thursday, January 8! Depending on the timing of things, it may need to be pushed back, but for now our date is set.

We are scheduled to go to Arizona on January 10-15, so it will be a hectic couple of days in trying to get packed for both trips. Good thing my dear husband is off of work right now so that we can get everything done together. We will fly to Denver on 1/7 and fly home after our appt on 1/8. If AF arrives late then we will most likely have to reschedule and do it in February. CCRM requires us to come between cycle days 5-13 and since we will be in AZ for some of these days, it just might not work to do the one day work-up on January.

Maybe I should wear white pants so that AF arrives...

Every year for the past couple of New Year's Eve celebrations I have said to my dear husband "maybe next year will be our lucky year" or "I hope that next year is the best year ever" or "next year is going to be OUR year". So far, it hasn't quite worked in the way that I intended it to. So, this year I will NOT make any platitudinal (is this a word??) positive comments or wishes. There is nothing like getting your hopes up only to deflate like a hot air balloon.

Now, I am not saying that the last 2.5 years have been horrible. In many ways they have been great. I have a wonderful support system, my dear husband, son and I have done a lot of really fun things (too many to name) and my marriage has grown stronger through our IF struggles. The only thing "wrong" with my life is my struggle with IF. Maybe I will say this year at the stroke of midnight "next year I will try to let our IF go" or "In 2009 I will cycle my last cycle and know if I am going to be a biological mom again" or "my physical struggle with IF will be over next year". Then, I will kiss my dear husband and continue to vow to love each other as we did on our wedding day: "I, K, will take you, M, to be my husband. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life".

I hope you all have a great New Year's Eve celebration! And I wish for you what I can not bring myself to say to my dear husband and I...I hope that your 2009 is the best year ever! :)


Monday, December 29, 2008

Up in the Air

Today I finally had the chance to call my local clinic to ask about having the karotyping done on me. We are still waiting on M's results, but Dr. Schoolcraft at CCRM recommended that we have mine done also in the event that M and I both have a balanced translocation. The nurse explained that my local RE wanted to find out the results from M's karotype before he ordered mine. She explained that the karotyping is a little spendy and that he doesn't like to have us pay for them if they don't need to be done. I understand and appreciate that he is trying to be conservative with our money and doesn't want us to spend more than we have to. However, what good does the test do if it is only done on one of us? Even though he feels that it is highly unlikely that we both have a balanced translocation, why not get the test done on me too just to make sure- especially if I am willing to pay for it? The nurse explained that my doc was going to be on vacation until 1/12, so I could talk to him about it then. In the meantime, M's results are supposed to come in so we will know if he has a balanced translocation soon. If his result comes back and does not show that he has a balanced translocation, then the nurse will speed up the testing for me. I know, it is all so confusing.

Meanwhile, I have been searching our mailbox everyday for my packet from CCRM. I know with the holidays that the mail might be slower, but the packet was supposed to be mailed out last Tuesday. How long does it take for the mail to get from Colorado to Minnesota?

This afternoon I had to bring L to the allergist because he has been having coughing fits in the middle of the night for the past several nights, which is highly unusual for him. He is only allergic to cats and some dogs so we have a nebulizer for him and have been using it 1-2 times each night, in the middle of the night. Once we turn it on, he is breathing better and is more calm within 2 minutes. The allergist thought that it could be mild asthma or a cold. I don't at all believe that it is a cold because he hasn't had any cold symptoms. I have also noticed in the last couple of weeks that he begins coughing when he is playing really hard or when he goes out in the cold weather. My dear husband has the same pet allergy and also had activity induced asthma as a child. The allergist gave me a prescription for Pulmicort to be administered through his nebulizer to give to L before bed each night for the next week. Then take him off of it and see how he does. Any way you look at it, it is scary to see your 4 year old coughing to get air into his lungs in the middle of the night.

Overall, it has been a day of frustration. I feel like everything IF related is up in the air. I am hoping that we get M's results back soon and that I get my packet from CCRM tomorrow. And, most importantly, I hope that this new medicine helps my dear son breathe better.


Friday, December 26, 2008

Fears Calmed

M and I were talking on Christmas Eve about flying out to Colorado for our one day work-up. We were thinking of different options on what to do with L since I have this weird fear about getting on plane without L. We found from our friends on IVFC some great options for drop-in daycare in the Denver area, we talked about bringing someone out there with us to watch him for the day and then M and I discussed the thought of actually getting on the plane, just the two of us, and leaving L home with a family member. My dear husband said so many rational things to me about getting on the plane by ourselves without L and calmed a lot of my fears. I know that it is not likely that our plane will crash and that millions of people fly all of the time and are fine. I also know that if our plane crashed that I would not want L on the plane. One of my fears is leaving him without his parents. Now, I know that we have chosen awesome family members who would be great parents to him if something were to happen to M and I. However, for as much as we have gone through to try to have #2, if has made me more fearful of different situations concerning L. One of my other fears is of not being in control and trusting that the pilot will get us there safely (as if I could do a better job, LOL!!). After talking for some time about leaving L home and my dear husband calming my fears, we decided yesterday to ask some family members if L could stay with them or if they could bring him to daycare for the day that we will be gone in Colorado. Now, I just need to continue to trust that everything will be okay.

I have been wanting a Cricut for scrapbooking for a LONG time. I keep looking at them (and their price tag) and keep telling myself and M that I will get one when we have another baby. I have already done four scrapbooks for L and I need to start cutting back on his albums because I don't know how much he will appreciate getting 18 albums by the time he is 18:) I still have our wedding album to do too, but that Cricut is so darn expensive and then you have to buy the cartridges and accessories. Well, wouldn't you know it, M got me the Cricut Expressions for Christmas! As I was opening it and all of the cartridges and accessories to go with it M was explaining to me what everything was (thanks to a very helpful salesperson at JoAnn's) and I stopped him mid-sentence in a panic and said, "what if we don't have another baby, then what will I scrapbook?". He looked at me and said, "we will have another baby and besides you still have our wedding album to do and more pictures of L and this machine does way more that just scrapbook stuff." His reassurances and rational explanation was all I needed to actually enjoy the AWESOME present he gave me!

A BIG thank you to my dear husband, M! You put up with all of my irrational thoughts and fears and are always able to calm me down by your thoughtful words and your very funny sense of humor! I love you to pieces!


Monday, December 22, 2008

Phone Consult Update

We had our phone consult tonight with Dr. Schoolcraft from CCRM. He started out by asking us to summarize our infertility journey. After knowing that we had four failed cycles he immediately recommended that we do CGH on our next cycle to check for chromosomal abnormalities of our embryos. He said that it is possible that we have been transferring chromosomally abnormal embryos back in to my uterus. Even though they are great quality under the microscope this does not mean that they are chromosomally normal. He explained that it is possible to have a child naturally, our dear L, because in many cases only 30% of a woman's embryos are chromosomally normal. He explained that patients who have had the CGH testing done prior to an embryo transfer have a 70% success rate because they are only transferring back chromosomally normal embryos. He said that PGD is kind of out-dated (which my local RE said that they are developing more and that PGD should be in a better place a year from now) and that CGH is the new PGD. Which I wholeheartedly agree with. CCRM is one of the best, if not THE best clinic in the country. They are on the leading edge of technology. Their lab is top notch and the first in the world to grow an embryo to day 5 and they are also the first in the world to do CGH, which tests all 23 chromosomes, not just 5-9 like PGD.

He asked if we had any karotyping done to check for chromosomal abnormalities or a balanced translocation of chromosomes. Our local clinic has taken my dear husband's blood for this and he recommended that I call them to have it done on me also because we could both have a balanced translocation or I could just have one and not my dear husband, so it is important for both of us to be tested. I will be making that phone call tomorrow. This is important information for us to know if we decide to cycle there and do CGH because then they can make double sure that they are not transferring back abnormal embryos.

He also recommended some other tests that he would want us to have done when we go down to Colorado for our one day work-up. They include a sperm DNA fragmentation, ultrasound to check out "down there" and blood flow to my uterus, blood test to check hormone levels and communicable diseases, hysteroscopy, semen analysis and beta 3 integrin (like the endometrial biopsy I had done, but they would actually send the cells to a specialty lab to make sure that I have the beta 3 integrin in my uterine lining which is necessary for implantation to occur). I will also have to have my blood drawn on day 3 of my next cycle and have it freeze packed and sent to Colorado for testing or bring it on the plane with me so that it can be tested in their own lab. Sounds like fun, huh?

My dear husband and I have decided to go ahead with the one day work-up. Depending on the results of all of our testing we will then decide for sure if we want to cycle at CCRM. I have to say, though, that since Dr. Schoolcraft is arguably the best fertility doc in the country, if not the world, why would we waste any more time? I am getting to a point that I need to have an end in sight and I don't know that I am up for cycling locally again and then doing another frozen cycle and then still possibly needing to go to CCRM. I just don't think that emotionally I want to do that. We told Dr. Schoolcraft that we are in the warranty program locally and he said that if financially or logistically we needed to cycle here again, then to go for it. He also pointed out ever so eloquently that if it has not worked at our local clinic four times, then why would it work at all? Good point!

We asked him what our next steps would be to schedule the one day work-up and he transferred me over to Jackie to get more info and she is sending us out a packet. I am supposed to call them on day 1 of my next cycle to schedule the work-up. We will have to fly out between cycle days 5-13 to complete the work-up.

The ONLY hang up I have about cycling at CCRM is the logistics of my dear son, L. Over the last four years my dear husband and I have talked about going to Vegas for a couple of days or really anywhere for a couple of days to get away, but I just have this huge fear of getting on a plane without L. I love flying, but I always have that fear that my plane will crash. I just CAN NOT get on a plane without him. I told M that I would be an absolute wreck if I got on a plane without him. Unlike at our local clinic, children are allowed at CCRM. However, the one day work-up will be 6-7 hours long and I just don't forsee that going well with a child in tow. I asked Jackie if they had a drop-in day care that they contract with where I could bring him for the day and she was not aware of anywhere that I could take him. So, if anyone wants to fly to Colorado for a day with us, let me know:)

Before Dr. Schoolcraft transferred me over to Jackie he said "Good Luck". I told him thank you and that after four failed cycles it is hard to have hope that this will happen. He explained that we were great candidates and that I produce great eggs and plenty of them. He also said that he had talked to six potential out of town patients just like us today and that out of all of them that we had the best prognosis for success and to "keep the faith". It was so nice for him to acknowledge that we should NOT give up. I felt that my local doc had lost optimism and hope for our case and, to tell you the truth, it stung to hear him say some things that he did, but I appreciated his honesty. I just think that it is hard for any clinic to compete with arguably one the best clinics, which is CCRM. Having said this, to my local IVF friends who love our local doc just as much as I do, I still love my local doc and think that he is arguably one of the most compassionate docs out there. Really, I can't say many bad things about him and I would recommend him in a heartbeat to anyone else local that is considering IVF. I just think that my case may require more advanced technology that he does not have available to him.

So, the wait is on for AF to arrive! Since I have been on fertility medications for the last 18 months, not sure how regular I am anymore. Hopefully she will show her ugly side and come right on schedule the first week of January. If she doesn't show at all (Hope is creeping in...) then that will be a good thing too! Man, wouldn't a natural conception at this point just be a riot!

Here are a couple of CCRM articles for further reading:


Phone Consult Moved Up...Again!

We received a phone call from CCRM yesterday and they received all of our new patient paperwork and our records from our local clinic. They asked if they could move up our phone consult again! It is today at 5:00! Woohoo! I'll update again later tonight or tomorrow.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Baking Christmas Cookies- An Analogy

This is part of an email that I sent to some family members to help explain what we have been through on our infertility journey. For some reason I keep going back to read it and thought I would share it with all of you. I hope and pray for each of you to have strength and peace this holiday season.


Baking Christmas Cookies- An Analogy
Every year we make Christmas cookies. We go to the store, purchase all of our ingredients and plan ahead so that we have everything thing we need in advance. We spend our money on all of the ingredients. We anticipate the time that we will kick off the holiday season with laughter and yummy cookies. We look forward to making these cookies only once each year. We hope that each year the cookies turn out and that we don't have to throw out a batch due to mixing errors, oven issues, bad ingredients, etc. We are hopeful that they will turn out. We get frustrated when things don't go our way, ie., we don't have enough ingredients, our house gets messy, our hand gets sore from stirring, a task takes too long, we have to wait for the cookies in the oven to complete baking so that we can put more cookies in the oven, etc. There is so much to do in one day to complete all of the cookies, that it can be stressful at times, but well worth the time spent and the wait and work of putting it all together.

After thinking about it, this is a lot like infertility. We plan to have 2-3 kids and hope that things turn out okay. We build a home to accommodate children, ie., four bedrooms, a big mudroom, plenty of bathrooms for the teenage years, a playroom, etc. We make sure that our married life is secure and that we can provide a good home. We decide to have another child. We get all of the ingredients together each month. We anticipate that we will have no problems and that our home will be blessed once again and that we will be able to share good news soon to kick off this next step in our life. We hope that each month it will work and we will be able to enjoy our family as it expands. We take our medications, we go through treatments, ultrasounds and blood draws to find out that the "cookies" didn't work due to unknown reasons. We are frustrated that we will have to "go to the store" to start over. Month after month, we get our medications, filled with hope, go through procedures, and hope that our embryos will want to stay warm and cozy for nine months. We invest financially, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We constantly evaluate and monitor each decision, measuring out and weighing each option carefully. There is so much to do, that it can be stressful at times, but well worth the time spent and the wait and work of putting it all together.

Eventually we will be beyond the struggle of infertility- whether we have another child or not. However, it will never completely go away because it has changed our lives. We won't be able to return to the people we were before going through infertility, but we will also no longer be controlled by it either. We, at some point, will leave the struggle behind us, but we will always remember what we went through and know that good things came from this situation as well. We will have improved our skills for empathy, patience, resilience, forgiveness, decision-making and self-assessment. We feel grateful to others that have tried to ease our journey through this struggle by giving us their understanding, compassion, empathy and support.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Did I Mention...?

That I LOVE my local clinic? Even though I have four BFNs under my belt this year, I still think they are absolutely fabulous! I know some people would not like their clinic if they have not been able to get them pregnant or if they have not had success, but my mind just doesn't work that way. I think they are all great people, friendly, knowledgeable, compassionate and amazing. I called today to ask how long it would take for them to send out my records to CCRM. I was expecting the standard response that they have 30 days to complete the request. However, the receptionist knew who I was and knew that one of her co-workers had already copied my file yesterday and that they were about to be sent out to CCRM! Holy cow, my dear husband just faxed over the request on Monday!! How is that for service? Especially since the records are being sent to another IVF clinic- a competitor. Woohoo, one thing to check off of my list to do for my phone consult. Next up, heading to Kinko's tomorrow to copy all of the info that I have collected and completed thus far for CCRM so that I can retain a copy for myself.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Phone Consult Moved Up!

My dear husband and I finally had the chance to complete our new patient paperwork for our phone consult with CCRM today. As we were filling it out I had a couple of questions and had to call CCRM. As the receptionist and I were talking she told me that Dr. Schoolcraft's scheduled had opened up a little and that he had some openings on December 29, if we wanted to move our phone consult up. Woohoo! I love when things get moved up as I am not very patient, especially since I always feel like I am in crisis mode with our infertility issues.

I have to call my local clinic and ask if they will be able to send my records to CCRM ASAP. My dear husband faxed over the request for my records yesterday, but they had told me previously that they have 30 days to complete the request for records. I don't want to be pushy with them as I LOVE their staff and we have not decided if we will do our last cycle there or not. If they can't send my records over in time, then I will have to ask for some further information over the phone so that I can be prepared for my consult. Oh, the joys of IVF! :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Brother? I Don't Have a Brother

A couple of nights ago my dear son and I were eating dinner together. My dear husband was working late so it was just the two of us. We were quietly eating for a couple of moments and then my dear son initiated this conversation:

L: My friend T is a brother.
Me: Yes, he is.
L: Brother? I don't have a brother.
Me: You're right.
L: That's okay that I don't have a brother. I don't need one.

I was so stunned by this conversation. My dear husband and I have never said anything to L about wanting another baby or him having a sibling some day or our IF. NEVER. I admit that I have purposely not brought it up because I don't want him asking me for a sibling when we have struggled so much with our infertility. I mean, how do you explain to a child of his age that you REALLY want another child, but that you have not been able to have another one. You know, good ol' Dr Phil says that you should not involve children in grown-up problems, so I guess that I have never felt that it is appropriate to discuss with my dear son. Each day I wake up and try to enjoy him to the fullest because I don't know if I will have the opportunity to have another Angel.

So, if my dear son doesn't not care about having a sibling, then why do I care about having another child so much?

(okay, I have a million answers for that question, but I just wish that I could have his attitude, just for a day.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

In Limbo

"What to do? What to do?" Every morning when I wake up I think of this phrase over and over and over again. After four failed IVF cycles, I don't know what to do. I am in limbo. We had our post-IVF consult with our RE this past Thursday after our fourth failed IVF cycle. The first thing he said upon entering the room we were waiting in was "Well, you are one of my challenging patients". He told me that he wasn't giving up yet, but yet the tone of this conversation was not one of optimism either (as it usually is with him). He asked me if I was emotionally okay with cycling again to which my response was "Often times I wonder about that. I hate cycling and everything to do with cycling, but then I look at my little boy and how much I love him and I know that I am not ready to give up yet". He went on to say that he is a Christian and that some things are maybe not meant to be. He said that he can take all of his knowledge and experience and put it into play, but sometimes things are not meant to be. After thinking about this, I wholeheartedly disagree with him. I will never believe that I am not meant to be a mom again.

He said that nothing is standing out to him as to why we have four failed cycles. Everything is good on paper...I respond well, my body does exactly as it should, my embies are good quality (on my first fresh cycle I had 10 blasts still growing on Day 5), etc. He said he would cycle me again (my 3rd and last fresh cycle under the warranty program) and try to change my meds up a little. It seems that my follies are slow to "take off" and then midway through my cycle they all pop up at once when they increase my meds. He would try to alter my meds so that I would get less eggs and hopefully better quality. He also is starting out by testing DH for balanced translocation. If his b/w comes back positive then he will test me as well. He did not recommend, or endorse, any further testing. He gave good reasoning for not wanting to do further testing, but it just isn't sitting well with me.

I also told him that we are going to do a phone consult with CCRM. He seemed supportive of us doing that, but I am sure that he isn't too happy about the "possibility" of us going elsewhere. I don't even know how I feel about this...I started crying when I told him that we were looking at CCRM as I feel like he is an amazing RE whose compassion, enthusiasm and knowledge are such a big piece of why we chose to go there for our IVF cycles. I feel so disloyal, but at this point no matter how emotionally involved I am in this process and how much I love the clinic, I need to do what I think is the best thing for DH and I. At this point, I don't know if CCRM will be it or not, but I owe it to us to investigate further. He told me that he felt so bad this time when he got the negative beta and that he was in the lab that day waiting for my results. He also said that I am not just a number to him, that I am a real person and that he truly wants the best for the patient, which I have always believed in my heart. He also said that he would not recommend DE or surrogacy at this point because he doesn't know what the problem is. Our dx at this point is "unexplained IF".

And the final joke is that he said that he would not rule out another natural conception for us, LOL....I clearly think that is NOT in the cards for us at this point. After 2.5 years of secondary IF encompassing 4 failed IUIs, 4 failed IVF cycles and rivers cried, I highly doubt that would happen!

We have our phone consult with CCRM scheduled for January 8. I know that we still have one fresh and any resulting frozen transfers to do at my local RE clinic that have been paid for under the warranty program we signed up for. But as I sit here today I think...why would I cycle there again, no matter how much I like my RE, if he has nothing more to offer me really? If I really want another child and I am getting burned out on cycling, how can I cycle there again and still maybe have to go to CCRM? And, if we go to CCRM how will the logistics play out? What will I do with my dear son when I am cycling and on bed rest in a city that my dear husband and I have never been to? And what if we don't cycle again at my current clinic, but it could be the one time that I actually had a positive result and I never know because I decided to go right to CCRM? And why am I making myself so miserable over trying to have another child?

What to do? What to do?

Friday, December 12, 2008

It's All in a Name

When I was about 6 weeks pregnant with my dear son I started mild cramping that became bothersome. I call my regular doctor and talked to the nurse to ask if it was something that I should be concerned with. To err on the side of caution, she suggested that I come in for an appointment. When I went in later that day for my appointment, my doctor poked all around my abdomen and decided that I should have an ultrasound to check for an ectopic pregnancy. I was immediately scheduled for an ultrasound that afternoon and left my clinic to head to the hospital for the ultrasound. As soon as the technician located the baby she said "oh, there is your baby in your uterus and that little flickering light is its heart". I remember that moment like it was yesterday, even though it was almost five years ago.

I just had this strong feeling from that moment on that my dear son was an Angel. In fact, I called him my Angel Baby throughout my pregnancy and many times since that glorious day that I knew my baby was in the right spot and had a beautiful flickering heartbeat And, even still, I call him Angel every once in a while. After he was born we decided to combine our Christmas card and birth announcement in the same mailing. It read "An Angel was born this holiday season" and it had all of my dear son's birth stats on it (height, weight, DOB, time of birth) and then written below all of this we had written "Happy Holidays" and I signed our names.

When I started scrapbooking I included this story on the first page of his first scrapbook. I have always felt deep inside that he was truly an Angel. Not in the sense that he, and all children, are miracles, but in the sense that I just had this gut feeling that I was so lucky to have him. Like an intuition. It was always somewhat of an undescribable feeling of how I felt that he was my Angel Baby.

About a year ago, I was looking back on his first scrapbook and remembering this story. It was at that time that I felt that gut feeling again. It just hit me that I knew or had that feeling at that time of the ultrasound that I was so lucky to have him. Knowing what I know now and the secondary infertility roller coaster I have traveled thus far, I know how right I was at the time...that he is truly my Angel Baby.

It is with this story that I decided to name my blog "Looking for Another Angel". I have hope that I will be blessed again with another Angel and know how truly lucky I am to hopefully hold another child in my arms again.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hop on for the Ride

I never thought that I would be a person who blogs. Some of my friends have blogs that I would casually glance at here and there. I thought they were a point of interest, but never something that I would do. In the last several months, however, I have become a blog hopper. I have realized that I LOVE to read other peoples blogs and to hear their stories. Not because I am happy they are struggling with infertility, just as I am, but because I think about them and hope that their dreams come true. I want for them what they want and wholeheartedly deserve for themselves.

I decided that as long as I have discovered this hobby of blog hopping, that I should join in the fun of blogging. The purpose of my blog will cover many things. Most importantly, my journey of secondary infertiliy after a natural conception. I will also talk about a range of day-to-day things in my life, including my son, L, and my dear husband, M.

So, buckle up and hop on for the ride. My roller coaster ride through this crazy world of infertility in the blogging world is just beginning!