Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ultrasound Update #1

I had my first monitoring u/s (ie., appointment with the ever-so-fun dildo-cam) this morning for this cycle. I was so happy that my favorite nurse was there to do it. Not only is she really nice, but she is so quick and efficient. When you are growing all of these follies it gets really painful so the quicker they can get in there and 'git r done', the better. Here are the stats:

Lining: 7.9B
Follies: 23

I had the nurse look at my previous two fresh IVF cycles and here were the stats at the same time in those cycles:

Lining: 6.0A

For those reading this, I'll translate in really simple, non-super technical terms. My clinic likes to see the lining at a minimum of 8.0C. The number (8.0) stands for the thickness of the endometrial lining and the letter (C) is for "triple stripe", which tells you when your lining is ready for transfer.

Also it looks like my ER will be on Thursday, May 7, instead of Wednesday, May 6. I go back to the clinic on Saturday morning for another u/s.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Late Night Rambling and Surrogacy Thoughts

I am up late. I can't sleep. I was tossing and turning in bed thinking. Thinking. And some more thinking. Tomorrow I have my first u/s check, ie., date with the dildo-cam. I get to see all of my (hopefully) future children cookin' in my own personal oven. I wonder how many for sure there are and how big they are. I had 19 antral follicles. In previous cycles I had somewhere between 10-14 antral follicles and ended up getting 18 and 23 eggs, respectively.

I also have the fear of OHSS. When I had 23 eggs retrieved I was borderline OHSS and had to go in to the clinic for follow-up treatment several times between ER and ET. My ovaries hurt like hell and I was as bloated as the Good.year blimp. I am afraid that it might be worse this time with more antral follicles and I really.don' for Mother's Day...the "mother' of all days.

Note to self: buy Gatorade.

As I was clicking around on the internet tonight I saw the headline that S.J.P is expecting twins. My first thought was, "okay, so she did IVF with possible DE". I mean, there aren't many women in their 40s that get pregnant with twins with their own eggs. I have been on the IF internet boards and blogs long enough to know that it isn't as easy as a lot of these stars would like the general public to believe. To my delight, the article stated that they are pregnant via surrogate.
(Can someone please tell me how I can hyperlink something so that I can just name the title of what I want to paste rather than posting the actual link???)

After I read this article I thought, "There is no better week to announce this other than National Infertility Awareness Week", which just happens to be this week. (Another link, rather than a tile...someone please help me figure this out!) I didn't even know this was going on this week until I read it on Brenda's blog (ugh!...another long link!).

As someone who is considering surrogacy, I am so excited that a celebrity is bringing awareness to this option of creating or expanding one's family. Some of you may be wondering if I have someone that I would LOVE to carry my baby. Yes. Yes, I do. This person and I have had two different conversations about this. Really.Good.Conversations. It is someone whom I love and respect so much. Even though this person has not committed to being a surrogate for DH and I , this person has thought about it and talked her DH about it- even before I brought it up to her the first time. Now, that in itself is amazing and selfless. How would this person know that I would ask? Because. Because I have known her forever. We are so alike, but so different. This is the person who I can call on for anything. No matter what.

Even if this person chooses not to be a surrogate for us, if need be (which she and I sincerely hope I won't need), then it will be okay. I will continue to love and respect this person. Will I be heart-broken? Of course! But I will be okay. Truly, I will. I know I will be okay because I know the decision she would have to make will be hard. Really hard. A decision that takes so much thought and consideration, not only for her, but her family (whom I adore) and DH and I and L, whom I know she cares for just as much as we care for her.

If this person chooses to be a surrogate for us...well, words just won't be enough to express the gratitude for the opportunity of giving me life, the life of my yet unborn child. How could you really thank someone enough?

I hope you aren't still wondering why I can't sleep...

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Bitter Bus Has Arrived

I met my friend, P, at a previous job that sucked! It was the worst place that I ever worked and she wasn't a fan either. The good thing was that we shared an office. When one of us was having a bad day or was frustrated and we would start complaining we would joke around and say that we were getting on the "Bitter Bus". Somehow this phrase stuck and I now use it in all situations in life.

I called DH this morning and was irritated about an email that I had received from an acquaintance. Then I complained to him about another situation that happened with a friend this morning. Then I expressed my frustration over one of his employees. He lightly started laughing at me because I was just so frazzled and frustrated this morning. My response, "OK, so just to warn you: the Bitter Bus has arrived. It is driving through town this week and most likely won't leave for a couple of weeks." We both started laughing and he responded, "I see that it's here. Thanks for the warning!".

You see, since November I have not been on any IVF meds. Now, my meds are starting to kick in and make me just a wee-bit hormonal, ie, easily irritable, easily frustrated, easily get the point. I know this...and yet I can't stop it. These things don't usually bother me to the point that I would even tell him about them because they are so silly. But being on these meds just seem to intesify everything.

So, if I seem a little snappy or irritable in the next couple weeks- I am. I have at least 19 eggs cooking in the oven and I am starting to get bloated already, and it is only day 4 of stims. The vi.agra makes me feel like I am peeing my pants all day long and the doxy.cycline and fl.agyl are upsetting my stomach. And my stim shots are burning my belly.

But I am happy- even though it doesn't sound like it. How could I not be, really? I am getting ready to create new life again and make little embryos that will hopefully become my children. I can't imagine a better time to create these new little lives than in the Spring, where the world blossoms and grows. And as I watch nature change all around me, I hope that I am also watching my belly grow and blossom- for the next nine months.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Vi.agra Humor

This morning as I was pulling my Vi.agra suppositories out of the refrigerator I said to my DH in my silly, sarcastic tone, "So, Hon, what do you think about having Vi.agra in the refrigerator?" (insert slight chuckle). Being the ever-so-quick-thinker and jokester that he is, he replied, "I think it's quite uplifting, don't you?" (Too bad the Vi.agra is for me and not for him!:))

Gotta have a sense of humor on this crazy IF journey!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Thyme for Friends

I am still trying to plant my garden so that I have fun things to look back at when I am in my 2ww and doubting everything and getting on the bitter bus.

I just got off of the phone with my dear friend, S. I just have to say, I LOVE her! We met several years ago at work and we have become such good friends. She used to live in the Cities (as in Twin Cities of St Paul and Minneapolis) until her DH got a new job and they transfered a few hours north of the Cities. I was so sad when I found out she was moving last year and I cried. And I cried. And I cried. I don't even know if she knows that I cried as much as I did.

My friend, S (right), and I (left)- February 2009

So let me tell you what is so stinkin' special about her. She is so kind and has one of the most genuine hearts I have ever met. She always asks me, "How are you doing?" in that gentle voice that lets me know that she is asking in regards to our IF (which, as most IFs know, a lot of people purposefully avoid :that" topic all together). She is always honest with me and redirects me if I am off my rocker. We think so similarly that our conversations are always so easy and we have SO much in common.

Today she told me that she feels bad that she lives so far away because she wants to be here to support me through out IF struggles. The funny thing is, she IS supporting me so much by just listening to me and my nonsense. Just having her a phone call away is such a huge blessing. Now, that's not to say that I don't miss seeing her more often. I certainly wish that I saw her more and we are planning some things for this summer so that we can get together. We also had the opportunity to go to her new beautiful home in February and we met at the Mall of America last Monday since they were in town for Easter.

In addition to S, I have a couple of other friends whom I LOVE LOVE LOVE. My good friend, P, and I have laughed, cried, laughed, cried and laughed and cried. We always have such wonderful conversations... you know the kind that when you leave that person you feel lighter and spiritually lifted. We met at work a few years ago and were fast friends. We are both Italian and have so much fun together.

My friend, L, is also such a great person. We have known each other for over four years, but did not become really good friends until the last year or so. On Saturday we drove 1 hour and 20 minutes to one of her friends houses to go to a Spa party. Even though it was a long drive, it went so quickly because we always have so much to talk about.

D and I have been friends since high school and our friendship has grown over the years. We met her senior year of high school (I was a junior) and I helped her celebrate her senior year on her senior skip day (when all the seniors skip school). We ended up at the zoo. When she looked at the giraffes she asked me, "OMG! Is that a giraffes penis? It is huge!" Turns out, it wasn't his penis, but it was so funny! I will never forget that day. We laughed about it for years and still do. She loves to send mail to people so about 3 times/month I get a hand-written note card in the mail from her. Every once in a while she finds a giraffe note card to send to me. LMAO! (Ok, so I know this story most likely is not funny to you, but I have to have something funny to look back at during my 2ww!)

I have some other good friends, but these are the best. Truly.

Monday, April 20, 2009

CGH News

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that my clinic is in the beginning stages of doing a study on CGH. I have been talking with several people at my clinic to see if they would be able to biopsy our embryos from IVF #5 and do CGH testing on them to see if they are chromosomally normal or not.

The first requirement for this CGH study is that if you have a failed IVF cycle you are disqualified from participating in the study. The second requirement is that you need to do an eSET (elective single embryo transfer vs. transferring two or three embryos). So, you would think that I am out of luck, right? I am happy to say that I am in luck!

After talking to my nurse and RE they are going to allow me to do the CGH testing on the three embryos we are transferring on this next cycle! I will not technically be under the study itself, but rather they are making an exception outside of their study and allowing me to include my embryos for testing. The CGH testing is free for those that are actually study participants (and thus meet the study requirements). In my initial conversation with my nurse I told her that if they let me have my embryos tested I would pay them since I knew I would not be allowed to be included in the actual study. I found out today that they are going to charge me somewhere around $1,000 to do the CGH testing. CCRM charges $5,000/cycle to do CGH testing.

Although DH and I are really excited to even have this available to us here in MN without traveling to CCRM (at this point anyways...we may still cycle there depending on what happens), there is a down side or two. Our RE will ONLY biopsy the 3 embryos we are transferring on day 5. I think that because they are including me on this testing, even though they technically shouldn't be, they still have to follow the study guidelines that have been set up where they are only going to biopsy the embryos they are transferring.

The other down side is that we will not receive our results for 6-9 months (it takes 6-8 weeks at CCRM and then they schedule a FET to transfer only the chromosomally normal embryos). Since this is a study, they are going to collect biopsies from 45 patients, batch all of the biopsies together and send them to the lab for testing at the same time. They just did their first biopsy last week so they are anticipating that it will take 6-9 months to get collect all of the biopsies, send them to the lab and then get the results.

So, why would we do this?

Because, because, because (think Wizard of Oz here). Because we want answers as to why we have four failed IVF cycles. If we do this fresh cycle and we get another BFN, well we may just wait for the results to come back and then decide what to do...DE, GS or go to CCRM. At this point I don't want to keep wasting what appears to be good quality embryos...I feel like I am killing my babies by putting them in a place they clearly don't want to be. If it is confirmed that we are indeed producing chromosomally normal embryos and they are not implanting, then it may be time to move on to GS. Or if we are producing chromosomally abnormal embryos then it may be time to move on to DE. Or if we are still uncertain of what is going on, then it may be time to go to CCRM.

DH and I have talked about DE as option and we are both comfortable with it. We are both comfortable with traveling to CCRM to cycle. We are both comfortable with having someone else carry our baby as a GS. We just want to have something work so that we can complete our family...because it just isn't complete yet.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

IVF #5 Baseline U/S

I had my baseline u/s on Thursday for IVF #5. I had 19 antral follicles measuring less than 10. Woohoo! That's good since I am afraid that the Gan.irelix I will be on this time will stunt the growth of my smaller follicles as I begin to stim. I am really nervous about how this new protocol will work for me since I have never been on it.

I also received the rest of my calendar. I had an Es.tradiol Val.erate IM injection last night and I will have another on Monday night. I will continue with the baby as.pirin, pre.natal vitamin and dex.amethasone throughout my cycle. I will continue on Lu.pron, down from 10 units to 5 units, until 4/24 when I stop Lu.pron completely. On 4/24 everything changes. my calendar will look like this:

Men.opur- 150 IU and Bra.velle- 150 IU. These can be mixed together for one sub-q injection.
Gan.irelix sub-q injection
Es.trace suppositories- 2 X/day
Vi.agra suppositories- 4X/day
Fla.gyl pill- 2X/day
Doxy.cycline pill- DH and I both take 2x/day
Dex.amehtasone pill- 1/2 tablet/day
Baby as.piri pill- 1X/day
Pre.natal Vitamin pill- 1X/day

To sum it up: 2 shots, 6 suppositories and 7 pills each day.

So, if I seem a little crazy...I probably am!

I also have been talking to my clinic about the CGH study they are doing. I will have more info next week on this. I just need to talk a little more with my RE about the details and then I will be able to share more info in another post.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Thyme for Family

I stopped BCPs on Saturday and am waiting for my "bonus" AF to arrive. I am sure she will be here when I wake up tomorrow morning. I also have my baseline u/s tomorrow morning. Should be fun to have the dildo-cam and AF at the same time. After paying our taxes this week, it sounds like a good way to finish off the week, don't cha think?

I have been thinking a lot lately about how grateful I am to have such good family. And, more importantly, how thankful I am that L has cousins. My sister has two girls (A and A) that we see often. We only live 10 minutes from each other and my parents only live 25 minutes from us so we tend to get together often for family gatherings. My nieces also come camping a couple weekends in the summer with us and we have gone on vacations together- so lots of cousin time:)

Disney World, Dumbo ride- January 2008

My SIL (DHs sis) lives about 30 minutes from us, and although we don't see her as often, I do love that she has a son (G) who is 6 weeks younger than L. The boys always have such fun when they are together and they will be in t-ball together this summer which I am really looking forward to. She also has two step-sons (L and B) in their teens that L looks up to.

Logan's bday at the bowling alley- December 2008

Christmas 2007

My BIL (DHs brother) has a boy and a girl and they live about 45 minutes from us. We don't see them near as much as we should, but when we do have the opportunity to see them L and his cousins (M and Z) have so much fun.

Logan's bday party at the bowling alley- December 2008

My other BIL (DHs brother) got married not so long ago and I so hope that they will have children so that L (and DH and I!) are blessed with more cousins.

You see, even though L is an only child, the absolute next best thing is for him to have cousins. Others who will know and be a part of our own family, who will understand the family dynamics and who will be there to help him along in life. I always wonder what his life will be like when DH and I die (morbid, I know). It is comforting to know that even though he doesn't have siblings that he will have cousins with whom he is close to so that he is not all alone in this world, so that he will still have family after we are gone. I love all of my nieces and nephews not only for the joy they bring to my life, but so much because of what they are to L.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Doing Things Differently

This cycle we are currently doing is different. We felt that after four BFNs, that we needed to make some changes and try something different. I don't know if they will give us a BFP in May, but I just feel better about making these changes. Here they are:

Electro-acupuncture- I am going to acu 2X/week. I started out going because Dr. Schoolcraft diagnosed me with restricted blood flow to my uterus. I also love going because it is so relaxing and has brought some definite stress relief to my life.

Weight Loss- After being on IF meds for so long, I have gained weight. I was feeling well...just gross. I was at my all-time highest weight and not feeling too cute. I have lost 18 pounds and am now 5 pounds away from my wedding day weight. I know I will gain some of this back as I begin to stim and take some of my other meds, but I just feel good, for now.

Diet- After seeing my acu gal she recommended some foods that I should be eating to complement my acu sessions. I have been eating black beans, green leafy vegetables, cauliflower, wheat grass, garlic, spirulina, chlorella, blue green algae, fennel, and corn, just to name a few.

Drinks- I have never been a big drinker, maybe one glass of wine a couple of times each month . I have not had a drink since February. My DH is a social drinker. He usually has a few beers each weekend, but not to the point of being drunk. Now, I think he has had maybe 3 beers total in the last month.

Protocol- For my last two fresh cycles I was on the long Lu.pron protocol. For this next cycle I will be on a Lu.pron and Gan.irelix (antagonist) combination protocol. I will also be on Vi.agra suppositories, which I have never been on before. (As a side note, it is so weird to have these sitting in my refrigerator!)

RE- Since my regular RE will be out of the country when we cycle, I will have a different RE doing my ER/ET this time. She did one of my previous ERs, so we have met her before, but she has never done and ET for us. She will also be monitoring our cycle leading up to ER/ET since my RE will be gone for several weeks.

For now, I feel like I am doing everything possible that I can to get that ever-elusive BFP. I don't know if any of these changes will make any bit of difference, but at least I feel good, and better than I have felt in a long time.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Lettuce Love One Another (updated)

**WARNING- Sappy post ahead!**

The biggest thing I am the most grateful for in my life are my two guys. They bring joy to my life beyond measure, they make me laugh when I am sad, they make me sad when they are sad or having a bad day and they have the ability to pull me out of my darkest days. I love them in so many ways.

Orange picking in Arizona- January 2009

To my DH- You bring so much joy and happiness to my life. I love the way you come home with a smile on your face and give me a kiss. I love your sense of humor that can make me burst into laughter at any given moment. I love the way you are so gentle, compassionate and forgiving with me and with others. I love the way you work so hard to be a success because you know that this will make our life better. I love the way you clean bathrooms and vacuum. I love that you stick to grilling and let me do the rest of the cooking. I love that you do whatever you can to make me happy...and I am, more than you'll ever know.

4th of July- 2008

To my dear son, L- I am so grateful to have you, beyond measure. I love that you wake up in the morning with a big smile on your face. I love watching you sleep peacefully and knowing that you are an Angel, my Angel. I love how you are so polite, always saying please and thank-you. I love that you listen to me and rarely have temper-tantrums. I love that instead of calling me a "girl", you call me a "princess" (after hearing Daddy call me this). I love that you and I are always laughing and joking around. I love your "belly-laugh" when I tickle you.

I love you both so much and am so glad that I have "Lettuce" in my garden.

Sea World, Orlando- January 2008

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Planting My Garden

I took my first Lupron shot this morning and will be taking my first dex.amethasone pill tonight in addition to my BCP, prenatal vitamin and baby aspirin. That makes one shot and four pills each day for now.

In an effort to have enthusiasm and excitement for this cycle I am planting a garden. I will also be including some things that I am grateful for on my blog over the next month or so while I cycle. That way, when my cycle is complete and I am in the 2ww and doubting everything I will have something positive to look back at to reassure me that our IF is not our whole life, just a part of it.

1. Peace of mind
2. Peace of heart
3. Peace of soul

1. Squash gossip
2. Squash indifference
3. Squash grumbling
4. Squash selfishness

1. Lettuce be faithful
2. Lettuce be kind
3. Lettuce be patient
4. Lettuce love one another

1. Thyme for each other
2. Thyme for family
3. Thyme for friends

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Ahhh, Contentment

**WARNING: Kids mentioned a lot in this post**

We had the best time last night. My friend, L, asked me to watch her kids overnight for the first time. She has a son who is 9 days younger than L and a daughter who is 19 months. The boys played so well together, as they usually do. They were running like crazies around my house, but they weren't being naughty or "rough-housing", they were just having some really good four-year-old fun. Her daughter is the sweetest little thing. She doesn't talk much yet but she is SO full of smiles. Everything was sailing along and then it was bedtime.

When I went to put her daughter to sleep we read a couple of board books and then I layed her down. She cried for a little while and then I went up to reassure her that I was still here and that she was okay. She calmed down and I layed her down again. As soon as I started to leave the room, she began crying again. I went over to the crib and started to rub her back and she immediately settled down. I continued to rub her back until she fell asleep about 10 minutes later. As I was rubbing, I began to cry. It SO reminded me why I am going through all of our IF struggles to have another child. It was a good cry though. One of complete contentment. I want a screaming baby to soothe at night. I want a crying baby to kiss away their tears and owies. I want a cutie pie baby to snuggle with and give me smiles. I just want it, all of it. I know that if we make it to the IF "finish line" that our struggles will be well worth the wait and the work of the journey we have traveled.

Today I was thinking about how cute my friends kids are. I was thinking that if someone said to me today, "You have to take these kids today and treat them as your own", I would. It doesn't matter that they are not biologically my children. I would want them. And so the discussion of Donor Egg ensued with DH. I told him that I think I would be okay with doing this if my eggs turn out to be complete crap, i.e., chromosomally abnormal. I asked him to just tuck this thought away in the back of his head and think about it and figure out if he would be okay with it as well. To which he replied, "I would be okay with it. Totally." I got tears in my eyes. I don't know if I was surprised that he would be fine with DE or just that he didn't need to think about it at all. Either way, I am so grateful to have such a flexible, awesome DH. He went on to say, "I just want to move on with the next step of our life and get past our infertility". I whole-heartedly agree!

Some of you reading this that have never heard of DE and may be surprised by such an "alternative" way to completing our family. It's funny because someone wrote somewhere along the way that if the next option doesn't seem so scary (DE, DS, adoption, CF living, etc) it means you are ready to move on. This is so true! A year ago I never would have considered DE. Today, it isn't so scary. I have also heard that using DE is like adopting at the earliest stages of life. This makes tons of sense to me. If DH and I decided to adopt, we would face long wait times and more uncertainty. If we find out my eggs are crap and we can't have our own biological child, why not "adopt" at the earliest stages of life? That way I would get to carry another pregnancy while bonding with this child and give birth to my own child again. I guess, for us, it just sounds like a better option.

We'll see what our next cycle brings, but just knowing that this could be an option for us does indeed give me renewed *hope* that I will be able to complete my family.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Pharmacy, Microarray/CGH, and Three Embryos

I picked up my two big boxes of meds for IVF #5 yesterday. I spent about 30 minutes last night confirming the order and organizing them last night. We have a built-in storage unit/dresser in our master bathroom and everything is neatly lined up on top of it. I am hoping to take a picture and put it on my blog, but L accidentally dropped my camera last week and we need to go tomorrow to see if it can be fixed or if I should get a new one. I didn't really like my camera anyways, so I am hoping that I need a new one. Anyways, I digress. So, DH came up last night and looked at all of our meds and said, "Jeez. It looks like a regular pharmacy in here." I don't think that either one of us quite remembered how many meds are involved, nor are we looking forward to pumping my body full of them again, since we did our last fresh IVF cycle in August.

My friend, Niki, from, wrote on her blog yesterday that our RE is participating in a study to do Mocroarry/CGH*. I called and left a message for my nurse at my local clinic to see if I could participate in this study. Even though right now it looks like they are only biopsying the embryos to collect data (vs. biopsying them in order to select which embryos to transfer), DH and I decided that we want that data! It would be nice to know if we are creating any chromosomally normal embryos before we haul our asses out to CCRM to find out. I left a message for my nurse to call me back so that I can find out more info about the study they are conducting. This would potentially provide us with answers we so desperately need.

I also received the consent form from my clinic to allow me to transfer three embryos. Since this is differing from the SART guidelines, they need my signature to okay it.

Things are coming together for this cycle, but I can honestly say, I'm still not excited. After we have gone through so many failed cycles, really, how do you even get excited?

*Microarray and CGH provide essentially the same information, but are two different procedures to determine if embryos are chromosomally normal or not. Dr. School.craft did a great explanation of how both of these procedures are performed, but I won't attempt to:)