Let the games begin!

We got the call this morning that a Day 3 transfer was in our future. Sure we would have loved a Day 5, but since I have advanced maternal age at the ripe old age of 35 1/2 (HA!), the clinic’s protocol is to go with a Day 3 transfer if there aren’t five 6-cell embryos. I had four 8-cell and two that were 5-cell. So, I just missed the cut-off. Oh well. Lucky for us, we had some choice this time. We were also part of a new study that takes pictures and video of the embryos growing, and gives a recommendation as to the healthiest ones in the batch. So with some choice and some added information, we decided to return two, grade 1 embryos to their homeland. The winners were embryo A and embryo E. From here on out, they will be referred to as Arturo and Eva. My dad thinks this is a little wacky, but I figure I should start talking to the kids as they settle in for a lengthy lease.

We did have lots of conversation about how many embryos to put back in. We are fortunate to have a doctor whom we not only respect but we also trust. He suggested two so we’d hopefully have more to freeze. Why waste a good one if all three took, was his theory. I like that. We would also be prepared (if you can be) for twins. Triplets, no way.

I saw my acupuncturist directly after my visit and have been instructed to eat pineapple daily until Sunday, and chicken once a day until my pregnancy test. I spent lots of time on the couch, watched some bad tv, napped, and otherwise told Arturo and Eva to enjoy the new location.

As I think back to my last cycle and the two week wait, I have vowed to do some things differently. I know that as my blood test date approaches (7/23) I will get anxious and crazy, but I’m hopeful some changes along the way will help me cope with the uncertainty.

1. I will not google. Well, I’ll google things like yelp reviews and stupid baseball stats and funny videos, but nothing fertility related.

2. I will do my best to embrace any and all symptoms I experience. I already have some mild and wacky cramping from the high dosage of progesterone I’m on (all confirmed normal by my doc), but bloating and boob soreness and anything else will just be part of the experience and not a sign of something bad or good.

3. I will meditate for one hour each day. I made myself a playlist comprised of some really great music my yoga teachers play. I listened to it prior to retrieval and during the transfer, and it really soothed my nerves. I have a space all set out for my meditation, some embryos to focus on, and some baby dreams to have!

4. I will practice gratitude daily. In each of my yoga classes when the teacher asks us to set an intention I say the same thing: gratitude in my thoughts, gratitude from my lips, gratitude in my heart. I have said this in every class I’ve attended since joining the local studio, and gratitude is something I strongly believe in. Regardless of what life throws us all, we must be grateful for what we have. Especially during this period of uncertainty and wait, it is gratitude that will lighten my burden. I realize I sound like a complete hippie nut job, but I’m ok with that.

For my first act of gratitude, I want to thank all of the ladies who read this blog and cheer me on. As I told my husband this morning …. if I only had the women in my real life (both colleagues and friends) you would think having a baby was as easy as getting dressed. So, it was on-line and among strangers that I learned that I was not alone. This is a gift I can never thank you enough for.

More to come. Eva and Arturo say hello!

dfb

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Egg report

Well, I am home, feeling good, and breathing a slight sigh of relief. They retrieved 13 eggs. Holy shit! I actually started to cry when the nurse told me. 13! 13! One more time: 13! This is ten more than IVF #1. Of course, we know nothing of the quality, but I have to believe that working with a larger number will only help our efforts to become parents. Let’s hope.

As is typical, we’ll get a fertilization report early tomorrow morning. For now, I am going to nap on the couch, snuggle with my husband, and otherwise relax.

Thanks for all the support. I felt it this morning.

dfb

Grapes In My Belly

My final pre-retrieval ultrasound went well. My lining has been glorious. My ovaries have been working hard. My blood work is on target. I now know all of the nurses at the clinic … and there are many. I’ve also seen my acupuncturist four times this week. I now have his cell phone number. It’s funny how IVF will bring strangers into your family as they all hope, we all hope, that our efforts will result in a baby.

So here are the gritty details: the doctor is hoping for eight eggs. There’s a chance it could be ten, but eight would be fabulous. Last time around I had four follicles and one was empty, so that gave us three eggs. Not good. This time we have way more follicles. It’s just that only 8-10 will be ready. There are some stragglers who won’t make it. (Did you know a ready-to-go follicle is the size of a grape?) I know that we have done everything we can to make this successful. My body is rested, a little heavier (ugh), a little more hormonally balanced. I have been at ease with everything in the process and am ready for what comes next. But, right now I am currently waffling back and forth between feeling great about how much better this cycle has been and feeling awful as we move out of the honeymoon phase and into the waiting phase of this process. I even bagged out of a BBQ today so I could stay home and watch RomComs all afternoon. I know I’m also remembering the last IVF and what happened after retrieval. I don’t want to focus on that, but it’s hard to forget such an intense emotional experience. So my goal for the next few days is to use that experience to drive me forward. To help me keep things in perspective. To remind me that life is good, and will be good.

I have my dorky meditation CD ready to go. I’ve got great books on my Kindle. Tickets to a ballgame tomorrow. Some dinner with friends. Plenty of small things to keep me busy.

Trigger comes at 8 P.M. It’s go time.

dfb

Being Tested

I am a teacher and I am well aware of what a test means. It’s meant to assess my skills, my knowledge, my ability to move forward with what I’ve learned. Of course, with all tests come anxiety and uneasiness. No matter the student. No matter the preparation. Everyone dreads tests. I still remember the bio test I failed junior year of high school. And the motorcycle test I failed while trying to get a new license. But as a teacher, I do believe we have lots to learn from tests. If we are open-minded and willing to embrace where we went wrong, research shows we can move forward not only more quickly but also with great success. So it is with this mindset that I am moving through this IVF. I am on a different protocol. I am going to acupuncture like it’s my job. I am just more at ease with it all. But … there’s always a but …

Sometimes I feel like I am just being tested. Not for my ability to follow directions or shoot medication into my stomach or relax. I am being tested as a human. As a woman. Does anyone else feel like this?

When my mother first had her stroke when I was 23, life as I knew it (within my family) changed. The mother I had up until that point died and I was gifted another similar yet very different mother. Don’t get me wrong, we still had adventures and lots of good fun together, but physically and mentally my mom wasn’t the same. Her left side was paralyzed. She couldn’t work. She required near round the clock care. At the ripe old age of 23, I felt like I was handed a shit deal for I didn’t want a new mom. I liked my old one. But my mother always said, it happens for a reason. I learned to be a good caretaker. I learned patience. I learned to keep things in perspective. I learned that saying I love you at every opportunity is the only way to operate.

When my mother died 3 1/2 years ago, I felt like I was being tested again, but her death tested me in new and different ways. I was 32, married, settled into a job, just thinking about starting my own family. Her death tested my resolve. My ability to move forward in the face of tragedy. I realized that little matters outside of your loved ones. And I realized that nothing short of the death of a dear loved one hurts as bad as losing your mom.

Rightfully so, I feel I have been tested enough. There are times when I think that my mom died before I went through IVF so I would always think … it’s not as bad as when my mom died. But then I also think that going through IVF without your mom just sucks. It’s a whole other kind of test because I am striving to be the one thing I no longer have.

So what’s the come of all this testing? A fellow IVF survivor said it will make me a better mother. It will teach me patience. It will teach me to see the larger picture. And while I agree with her in terms of motherhood, I really think it comes down to one simple thing: I can do anything. Now, I don’t mean to say I’ll be in the Olympics in a few weeks or running for president in the fall, but throw me a challenge, ask me to rise to an occasion, test my ability to persevere, and I will. With a strong body, mind and spirit, I will.

Ultrasound #2 showed eleven follicles growing. There is a leader and two stragglers, but I am responding better than the last time. Phew. I head back on Friday for ultrasound #3, and the doc thinks retrieval will be on Sunday. I will be on stims some two days longer than last time, so let’s hope that helps my wee little eggs ripen up.

**A small, additional note: I re-read my older posts and realized that in my first IVF cycle I only had FOUR follicles in the works. Holy shitballs! I’ve got more than double. I would shout out loud right now, but Hubs is napping on the couch.

dfb

The danger zone

Do any of you remember that song from Top Gun? It was a brilliant Kenny Loggins song called Danger Zone. Check it out and you'll know what I'm talking about. Anyway, I'm in the zone. Not in a bad way, but whenever you have a container like the one above (that's my lovely sharps container with a little photo editing for effect) you have to ask yourself, what the hell is going on? I have a container full of biohazardous material in my house. Men in white suits are going to tent my house and take crazy readings a la E.T. I should be wearing gloves and a mask, for sure. But no. This is just the life of a needle addicted infertile trying to jack up her system and get pregnant.

My baseline ultrasound went swimmingly. Nice! I've been on daily Lupron and Follistim for two days now. I can hear my ovaries working overtime. And they are. I am no Follistim lightweight. I need shitloads of the stuff to make my vintage ovaries produce. And produce they will. They must. My acupuncturist reminded me: it is not the quantity rather the quality. Of course, but more than four eggs would be nice. Really nice. The best part of this entire cycle has been the lack of ass shots. Last cycle everything went into my high haunch/hip area. Not this time. All shots are in my new layer of stomach fat thanks to my lack of running or any real cardio in six months. At least that weight is good for something, right. But sub-cutaneous shots are a dream. My hubby feels a little left out, so I let him draw up the meds and help me push the Follistim trigger. It's too cute.

Other than these exciting and hazardous events, life is peachy. It's summer. My dog is adorable. My hubby is a champ. And I'm going to get pregnant.

Next doctor's visit is on Sunday. Will check on my hardworking ovaries and adjust meds as needed. Fun times.

dfb

 

My last supper

This was it. Except mine was reheated leftovers from the night before. I had visions of my last pre-IVF meal being a hot dog with pop chips. It came to me in yoga class. The salt, the deliciousness of a good all-beef hot dog. The guiltless pleasure of pop chips. But when I got home and realized we had leftovers, I decided to dive into those instead. I hate throwing away food. And to go with my tasty reheats: two glorious classes of wine. I had previously promised myself that after a dinner party last Saturday night I would cease drinking alcohol. But then we had an amazing meal on Tuesday, and a crisp white wine was in order. So with the hubby away at guys night chomping on steak and kicking it with some high class bottles of wine, I decided to partake a bit myself. Not the best combination, reheated chinese and merlot, but it was delicious.

I lied in my previous post. Sorry. I actually inject the cetrotide today. Then I have to wait for CD1 at which time I call the doc and head in for my baseline ultrasound. Then the big meds begin. I feel both at ease and emotional about this second try. I now know that there are two outcomes: pregnancy and no-pregnancy. The first time around I expected only one. I know the routine of the meds, the sting of the needle in my ass cheek, the acne that will burst forth onto my face with the strength of ten hormonal adolescents, the weird satisfaction I get from injecting a tiny needle into my belly because it reminds me that I am stronger than I think I am. But then there are the emotions, the unknowns, the moments of grey and waiting and hoping and forward thinking. Those are the things that will drive me into the ground. But at least I know that’s coming.

So, after a fabulous last supper and an amazing last pre-IVF day (which included a 3-run walk-off home run at the baseball game I went to), I’ve decided I’m going to swing away. For you non-basebal lovers, this means I am going to step up to the plate and not worry about where I’m going to hit the ball. I’m not going to bunt. I’m not going to question. I’m going to drive the ball as far as I can and with everything I have. I have taken six months off of running, I have thrown myself into yoga and meditation, I have been drinking my mud martini twice a day (chinese herbs), going to acupuncture, visualizing myself giving birth, seeing Hubby as a father, thinking all the right things. And now, I’m going to make it happen. I’m going to swing away and come up pregnant. There, I said it.

dfb

Some random and unrelated thoughts

1. While reading the Sunday New York Times, I came across an article about the top 200 CEOs in the country. The article was about rising pay in the face of a withering economy, but that’s not what intrigued me. Of the 200 CEOs, only seven were women. SEVEN! That led me to this thought: what the fuck is wrong with this country? Nevermind that I don’t have health coverage for this upcoming cycle of IVF or that insurance covers Viagra but not birth control for some women or that women make up the majority of the population, but of the top 200 CEOs, we are nowhere to be seen. This is not ok. Women earn more college degrees than men yet we make less money. We do more of the household chores yet we work longer work weeks. We are amazing creatures, crazy at times, but we have the power to change this. Are you with me?

2. I was again reading the Sunday times … I’m a teacher, what else can I do on Sundays? The Wall Street Journal doesn’t publish on Sundays … and I came across another article. The article focuses on the Penn State troubles from the fall and wonders where our morals have gone. The line that just made me scream in agreeance was this: We’ve moved from a culture of character to a culture of personality. So true. For me, at least. And so I thought about how my character and the strong character of the other infertiles in my life are so valuable, so powerful and amazing. While we struggle with the baby thing, think of how strong we are. How adaptable we’ve become. How much character we have. Infertility is not for wimps.

3. Last Times mention, I promise. This article really hit home. The title will tell you why: Think Before You Breed. This article even got my hubby fired up as it raised the question of why people ask us why we don’t have children. I would never ask someone why she did have kids, yet I have been asked time and time again why not? Why is that ok? Isn’t that the most personal question you could possibly ask a couple? Yet why is that question socially ok to ask? Ladies, we have work to do. I’m starting a campaign against the “why not?”

4. If you want to see a fabulous movie that will make you cry and make you laugh and make you realize that companionship with good friends and good lovers trumps all else, see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Not only are some of Britains best actors and actresses in the film, but it’s also a great story that will lighten your day. Promise. And it’ll make you want to travel. And laugh. And think … I want to age like Judy Dench. And, when is the next season of Downton Abbey going to start?

I inject myself with cetrotide on Thursday, and then IVF #2 begins … it’s almost go time.

 

dfb