Thursday, July 30, 2009

Giving It My All: Body

1 week 5 days to transfer and I'm continuing to giving it my all. Here's the next area I've been working on, body.

I've bumped up the amount of exercise I get. I've been riding bike, taking long walks, kick boxing and doing aerobics. It's been a great stress reliever. Unfortunately I've had to give up anything that gives me a good sweat as it causes my estrogen patches to peel off. I can't take a chance of messing up my lining by not getting enough e2.

As usual, as soon as I get a workout program going, this is what happens: I have to stop for fertility treatments, I chunk up and then have to start all over again. So here I am again, starting over just in time to have to stop again. But some is better than none. I thought I better try to lose as much chunk as I can now because soon I'll be taking it easy to grow a little human. =)

On Mondays I have electro-acup with an American guy. I provided him with the protocol that CCRM recommends for improving uterine blood flow. Americans, at least the ones I've had, seem to be pretty gentle with the needles, so it's not too bad. I love the e-stim as it's so relaxing.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays I go to chiro to make sure everything is in alignment and all communication is at its best. Hopefully I have some good brain signals traveling down my spine and telling my uterus to get ready because it's going to be busy for the next 9 months! =)

On Saturdays I have regular acup with a Chinese lady, the real deal. She's excellent. She doesn't follow CCRM's protocol as she believes she can do a better job by going after my specific areas of need instead of a one size fits all type of thing. While I'm sure her session is doing more for me, she about kills me. She has needles all over me from head to toe. Every time she starts inserting the needles, I become very clammy. After she taps the needle in, she then twists the needle while moving it up and down to really get the body's electrical current flowing towards the needle. Let me tell you, it works, sometimes too well. I can literally feel the current traveling to the needle and sometimes feel like I'm being shocked. One time I swore my uterus was hit by lightening, I felt the current exit my cervix. We saw no smoke, so we continued. Once every thing's in place, all's good. If torture = baby, bring it on.

I plan on having a session or 2 of electro-acup in Denver as well.

Here's my view of my tummy. You can't see all the needles in my legs and feet because there's a pillow under my knees. While I can't see my feet, I hope soon I won't be able to see my feet for other reasons. =)

Speaking of needles... Do any of you IVFers experience tough skin after so many injections? My injections start out easy and painless and then after so many, my skin gets tough and the injects start to hurt. I finally gave up and gave Kerry the job as I just couldn't self inflict pain anymore.

I have to tell you, he has wayyyyy too much fun playing doctor! See for yourself. The dark area next to my button is an estrogen patch.

That's all for now.

Thanks mom for your comment on my previous post, you made me cry! Ditto

Monday, July 27, 2009

Giving It My All: Diet

2 weeks to transfer and I'm giving it my all. Here's the first major change I've made, diet.

My morning starts with a large glass of wheatgrass. Mmmmm....

After all the Ben & Jerry's and hormones I've pumped in me... this is how you can envision me in the morning.

For breakfast I make fruit plates or sometimes fruit smoothies. This spills over into an afternoon snack.

For lunch I make a nice salad. Kerry calls me the salad queen. At least I'm good at something as my talents are severly lacking in the kitchen. (Recipe: mixed greens, spinach, cherry tomatos, 1/2 avocado, strawberries, almonds, hard boiled egg, balsamic vinigarette)

For dinner, we have a side salad, a protein, a veggie and something tasty.

Better than canned ravioli, eh?

FET Status:

Today I had my blood drawn to check my Estradiol level. They want it >50. My nurse said my e2 was excellent at 79 and to keep following my calendar. Yeah!!!!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

FET#1 - Onto the Next Phase

I'm making good progress on the FET, but of course not without some drama from AF.

After stopping BCP, I'm supposed to wait for AF. Once she arrives, that is considered cd1. Then on cd3, I'm to start estrogen patches which will make my lining nice and fluffy. Because I was on BCP and Lupron (which basically shutdown my hormones), I had no idea what to expect from AF.

I had 2.5 days of red spotting and that was it. I had no idea if that was AF or if she was still to come. If she was still to come, I had no problem waiting. The problem was that if the spotting was considered AF, then I was already late starting the patches. After leaving my nurse a couple of messages asking what to do, I finally heard back yesterday. She said it's not uncommon for AF to be very light when the hormones are suppressed and to consider this AF. She told me to start patches, reduce the Lupron from 10iu to 5iu and start baby aspirin.

I ran and slapped on a patch and swallowed a baby aspirin as fast as I could. I'm amazed at how much better I feel already getting some hormones back in my system. The headaches have disappeared too, thank God!

I'm starting to get excited about our Lucky Seven, mixed with a dash of anxiety. If you missed my previous post, our embryo was labeled #7 by the lab, therefore we refer to it as our Lucky Seven. Part of me doesn't even want to transfer it because as long as it's frozen, I have hope. As soon as they transfer it, that's it, I either become overwhelmingly happy or the exact opposite. Dear uterus, please accept my little embryo! I have an appt coming up soon to help me through this fear and anxiety, but I'll save that for another post.

Seven has become quite the happy number in our family. Kerry and I have had this little thing between us for years where every time one leaves or when we go to sleep, we give each other 3 peck kisses. I have no idea how this came about, but we're both anal about it, it has to be 3. Last week before we went to sleep, we leaned in and gave each other 7 kisses, neither of us knew the other was going to do this. We just grinned and now it has to be 7 every time and always ends with us grinning ear to ear. Yes, we're weird!

The other day my mom calls me unbelievably excited, I could barely understand her she was so excited. She looks for 7 everywhere she goes. Apparently she looked in her side mirror and the truck behind her had a huge 7 on it taking up the entire grill. It was encased inside a blue circle. She yells, I saw 7 and it's going to be a boy! I love how excited she is for us. Oh and she's as weird as us.

2w5d until we transfer! I'm continuing the acupuncture, eating healthy and exercising. The stress level is coming down nicely, now I just need to find a way to keep it down. OMG, it's going to be here before I know it! Dear Seven, I'll be there soon, can't wait to bring you home!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

CGH Results, Part III

This post will go over the details of the genetic results.

A little 101 for those not familiar with genetics. Each human cell has 46 chromosomes in 23 pairs. One member of each pair is inherited from the mother, the other from the father. Each chromosome contains genes, or instructions, that tell each cell how to develop and function. These genes also determine our characteristics and genetic disorders. When a chromosome is missing, it is called a monosomy. When there is an extra chromosome, it is called a trisomy. Most chromosomal abnormalities go undetected because they result in fertilization failure, implantation failure or early miscarriage. Imagine missing the instruction for cells to form a heart.

Here are the results:

Embryo #Day 3Day 5Day 6CGH Genetic Results
78-cell grade 44AA Blast Normal
147-cell grade 4-Morula4BB BlastMonosomy 3, Trisomy 12, 13, 18
196-cell grade 4-Compacting4BB BlastMonosomy 19

21 (from IVF#3)

6-cell grade 4-Early Level 1 Blast4AA BlastTrisomy 1

As you can see, it was our best embryo that came back normal. It was the only embryo that was perfect at every step and developed right on schedule. If there would only be 1 normal, this is hands down the one we would have chosen. This embryo was labeled #7 by the lab. We rec’d the results on 7/7. Number 7 in the bible is the number of perfection/completion. This embryo is our lucky #7. Anytime I'm down, all my dh has to do is look at me and say "Seven" and I can't help but smile.

Number 14, 19 and 21 were not so lucky. I discussed their status thoroughly with the genetic counselor (GC). I probably asked the poor lady a million times, are you sure these embryos are non-viable? She assured me that none of these embryos would ever produce a baby. They would most likely never implant or would m/c very early.

#14 is severely chaotic having 4 chromosome abnormalities. They were really shocked that it even made it as far as blast.

#19 is missing a chromosome 19. Missing a chromosome is much more serious than having an extra copy.

#21 has an extra chromosome 1 which is very rare. Chromosome 1 is the largest chromosome and contains about 4220 genes. This is way too many extra instructions. This embryo was from a previous cycle (IVF#3).

I asked if these results indicate the reason why we haven't been able to conceive. She said that there doesn't seem to a specific chromosomal issue such as a translocation since all of the chromosomes affected were random. If there was an issue, you would see the same chromosome being affected on multiple embryos. She said this indicates what all of us women face with age, declining egg quality. It just takes longer and longer to find the golden egg the older we get. While my elevated FSH doesn't seem to indicate a quantity issue, it does indicate a quality issue. It appears that out of 23 eggs from IVF#3, none were normal and out of 20 eggs from IVF#4, one was normal. Uh yeah, Houston we have a problem. There is no way to know if the chromosomal issue came from the egg or sperm but it is most likely from the egg since my eggs are 36 yrs old and sperm are 3 months old.

I guess we got our answer as to why we haven’t been able to conceive – Kerry’s boys are swim-challenged and I have geriatric eggs dwelling in my assisted living ovaries. =)

The GC said the current statistics show that I have a 62% chance by transferring one normal embryo. There are other obstacles besides chromosomes that an embryo has to overcome such as surviving the thaw, enough mitochondria energy to keep dividing, a receptive lining and implantation. While I wish this percentage was higher, I do have more of a chance of this working than not working, so that's what I have to focus on. The GC said I do have a few things on my side that may bump that percentage up a little and that is my age and that the embryo was the highest quality possible.

Deciding to do the genetic testing was originally a very hard decision. While the results were hard to deal with, we have absolutely no regrets and feel it was a wise decision. While the chromosomal make-up of our embryos were defined at fertilization in hotel petri and the testing would not change their status, the testing gave us much needed answers and allowed us to make informed decisions that prevented more heartbreak and lost time.

Looking back, if we had not done the testing, this is most likely how it would have played out...

If you remember, I struggled whether to transfer our 1 frozen embryo from IVF#3 or cycle again to increase our odds. Now we know we made the right decision to cycle again. If we would have gone for the FET, I would have prepared my body for 6 weeks, pumping in more hormones. I would have traveled to Denver full of hope and excitement. I would anxiously await the dreaded beta only to end in another heartbreak. I would be another $6k in debt.

Next was IVF#4 where I made 3 blasts. I would transfer 1 at a time to avoid multiples since all embryos were high quality blasts. The doctor would select the highest grade embryo which we now know is chromosomally normal. Hypothetically I would finally succeed and blissfully give birth to baby #1.

In the meantime while I'm on cloud 9000, I'm paying storage fees and full of hope because I have 2 little potential playmates on ice.

The time comes to add to our family. We repeat that above and transfer one of our snowbabies. It fails. We repeat one more time with our last snowbaby. It fails. Devastation, $12k for FETs, $3600 to redo our expired workup and a whole lot of time lost that we could have been pursuing other avenues such as adoption.

While it was painful to come down to the end with only 1 chance, we believe a much more painful process was avoided.

I'm trucking right along in the prep for our FET. I've completed 16 days of BCPs. Thank God that is over with, those little pills make me eat alllll day long. Tonight will be my 8th night of Lupron, enjoying lovely headaches. I started acupuncture yesterday at CCRM's recommendation. To lower my stress level, she put 7 needles in each ear and 5 in my face. For improving uterine blood flow, she put 3 needles in each leg and 9 in my lower stomach. Now I'm just waiting for AF to show before I'm given my final schedule. I'm spotting so I assume she will arrive soon, hopefully.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

CGH Results, Part II

Reflecting on our recent journey and working through the emotions...

Our first failed cycle at CCRM left us with a perfect 4AA snowbaby. Initially the obvious next step was to transfer it in an FET. After much thought, we realized that if that embryo resulted in a baby, we would have no embryos left for a sibling. We also realized that if my eggs were crap now, they would be petrified crap by time I would cycle again. That is when we decided to cycle one last time, to increase our chances of having a baby now and a sibling later.

Our second cycle at CCRM resulted in 3 beautiful blasts, not as many as we had hoped for, but the best we had ever had. Joined with our snowbaby, we sent off 4 embryo biopsies for genetic testing.

Kerry and I had high hopes for our 4 embryos. We thought for sure at least 2 would come back normal. More would just be an extra blessing. We had become pretty attached to our embabies during the 6 week wait. They weren't just a ball of cells to us, they were half me and half Kerry, they were our potential children.

My IVF nurse called with the results. She said only 1 was normal. I took it pretty hard and cried for about 2 hrs. I told Kerry over dinner that night. His eyes swelled with tears. We had our hope dialed too high.

Let me say that we are very grateful that we have 1 normal embryo, it could have been a devastating 0 and boy did we come close to that! As I said before, while we do have 1, we are finding ourselves grieving the 3 that we had to say goodbye to. Now it all comes down to 1 embryo, 1 chance, no backup. Knowing that this is it creates a lot of anxiety that we are going to have to work hard to overcome.

Our dreams of a sibling was shattered. With time I will come to terms with this, I have to. I believe the sibling will come in another form and I believe we will love him/her just as much as our own. For now I need to focus on getting baby #1 here.

Our story is pretty sad when summed up as an addition problem:

1 vasectomy reversal
3.5 years of trying naturally
4 IVFs
72 eggs retrieved
50 mature
32 fertilized
8 embryos transferred, 0 implanted
4 blasts CGH genetically tested
1 normal embryo

For my readers that can relate to this, sending you a huge (((Hug))). For those that don't but continue to read and support me regardless, LOVE you!

The genetic counselor suggested that I take the time and allow myself to grieve the embryos that we lost and to not beat myself up for not being excited. She said this is very normal and sees this with patients all the time. It's difficult to celebrate the good news when you're weighed down with the bad. So that's what I'm doing. I'm working through all the sadness, grief, fear and anxiety. I want to get it all over with now so I can move forward with positive anticipation and not have it weigh me down.

A heart-felt thank you to all of you that left a comment or private email. Your words were very comforting and exactly what I needed. A few friends have addressed concern that they were afraid their comments would get lost in the shuffle and I'd never see them. Just know that your comments are emailed to me instantly and I read all of them, usually multiple times. It's your support that gets me through this, so thank you!

Next post I'll go over the details of the genetic results.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

CGH Results, Part I

After an agonizing six weeks, we finally received our results yesterday. I’m sorry I didn’t post right away or call anyone, but Kerry and I needed some time to digest everything. Actually, we are still digesting it but didn't want to keep you in the dark any longer.

Out of four embryos from two IVF cycles, we have one normal.

We are taking the time we need to grieve the three we lost before we can celebrate the one that we are incredibly grateful for. I'll go into more detail in the next post.

A kind request to please not say "It only takes one!".

Saturday, July 4, 2009

CGH Wait Top Ten

Top Ten clues you're going cRaZy waiting on CGH results...

#10. Not missing that elusive call is more important than taking a shower. Wash cloth baths and after hour showers have become part of your daily routine.

#9. Your outfit must have a cell phone pocket. Tight underwear makes a good alternative.

#8. You constantly check your cell display for a missed call even though the phone hasn't left your side.

#7. You have to charge your phone every day, not from talking on it, but from #8 above.

#6. You have a near panic attack when you find yourself in another room and realize your phone is all by itself. Comparable to forgetting your purse at a department store.

#5. Keeping up with your cell is more exhausting than keeping up with a toddler. You frequently find yourself back tracking your steps. Finding it on the floor in front of the toilet has become the most probable location.

#4. You find yourself hallucinating ring tones. You run as fast as you can to get to your phone only to find that the ringing is your head.

#3. You have a pure adrenaline dump every time your phone rings. More than 1 false alarm within a short time span requires a yoga session.

#2. You want to slap the person that called just to chat, punch the person that got the wrong number and completely knock out the telemarketer. Your husband values his life and has learned quickly to send a text warning "I'm about to call you".

#1. You avoid any establishment that requests to please silence your cell phone. If this is unavoidable, you put it on vibrate and plan out an escape route that's manageable within 4 rings.

I'm at 5w4d today and yes, I'm going crazy!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Five Weeks Down!

5w1d today and still no results! Knock me out already.

I start the FET process tomorrow. The first step is 15 days of BCPs. Great, BCPs make me want to eat everything in sight! I just started a very healthy diet yesterday, so this should be fun.

That's all for now, enjoy the rare short post! =)