Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cycle Day 1 is here!

As most of my close friends and family know, I am not the most patient of people.  Lately I feel like I live my life waiting for my next "cycle" to start so that I can do yet another infertility treatment.  Back when I started my IUIs (intrauterine inseminations) I was so naive about the whole thing and figured I would be preggo within a month or two.  Unfortunately I am now much wiser and more concerned and impatient with each new cycle.

I haven't had my period since the D&C on November 2nd.  Its not like I really WANT to have a period, but thats the price you have to pay to get started again.  The doc put me on Provera (progesterone) once per day for 10 days to get AF (aunt flo) to come for a visit.  So I finished the pills and was waiting and BAM, the back pain, cramps, and general feeling of ickyness came in full force- or so I thought. 

I called the nurse line to tell them that AF had arrived. Then, the nurse proceeds to ask me questions about it..... (Talk about embarassing!) and she determined that I wasn't having "full flow" yet so I should call back on Monday and give her a "flow report."  We determined that we would wait a couple more days and see what was happening before starting the BCPs (birth control pills.) It does seem nuts that someone trying to have a baby is put on BCPs, but it is their way to control the cycle before starting treatment again. 

I talked to the nurse today and she called just to see, "if I was bleeding or not." LOL  After our conversation she had to talk to the doc and see when for sure I should start the BCPs. It all seems so complicated!

Anyways, I guess I am just excited to get started again.  I never in my wildest dreams thought that in the course of one year I would have two full IVF (in vitro fertilization) cycles, two FETs (frozen embryo transfers) one chemical pregnancy, and a miscarriage.  When I type those things they seem like stuff that only happens to people in sob story movies from the Lifetime channel or things you watch on Oprah.  I never imagined that would be my story and something that would consume my life.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

My doctor has a heart!

When Brian and I met with Dr. S. a while back to discuss what was next, he said that he would look at how much we had spent at his clinic and come up with some type of discount for our next cycle.  Last Monday, I called the lady in charge of the financial stuff and asked her what the discount would be.  She had no idea so she e-mailed Dr. S. and said she would get back to me on Tuesday. 

I anxiously awaited her phone call on Tuesday.  Finally, late in the afternoon the call came in.  She told me that Dr. S. had reviewed our files and the amount we had paid and decided to do our repeat IVF for................. drum roll please.............. $3,000!!!! Oh my gosh! I almost fell out of my chair at work when she told me this!! She said, "I knew you would be happy!!" That was an understatement if I had ever heard one.  She also said, "Well you know you will still have to pay for meds, and the anesthesiologist fee, but $3,000 is what Dr. S. is going to charge for his fees." 

As soon as we got off the phone, I ran into the office and called Brian.  He was just about as shocked as I was to hear the news. Now, we will still have to pay $2000-$3000 for medications and $400 for the anesthesiologist, but that is not much compared to what the original total would have been (about $16000.)

We had thought about switching clinics for this round of IVF, but after meeting with the doctor, decided against it.  His generosity really shows me that he is a doctor that cares about people, and their desire to become parents.  He told us before that he had to be aware of what he was doing to us emotionally, physically, and financially, and this shows that he meant it. 

The holidays are a time to give to others and show people that humankind is good and not just about themselves.  The holidays are about giving what you can to those in need and paying forward what you have been so lucky to receive. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Constant Reminders

As I said in my previous post today, I am over a month out from my d&c.  I mostly have my feelings in check, but sometimes there are reminders out there that bring back those happy thoughts of what "could have been" and the reality of what is not. 

Today I went in for an ultrasound to check my lining and my antral follicles.  The ultrasound machine says your name, date, etc.  When I went in for the u/s on the day before my miscarriage it said 7w1d meaning that was how far along I was.  Today when I went in the machine said 11w6d.  I could have cried right there and then.  It took all of my strength not to cry in front of this ultrasound tech whom which I had never met before.  The 11w6d was staring me in the face as if to say "HA" this is where you COULD have been today had the pregnancy continued.  I would have been one day away from hitting that milestone of the end of the 1st trimester.  Instead, I am back at square one.  I feel like I am no closer to the ultimate goal of motherhood than I was 1 1/2 years and $35,000 ago.

Here we go again!

It has been one month and three days since my d&c.  Since then I haven't had to do any injections, patches, large amounts of pills, doctors appointments, blood draws, etc. While this past month has been hard, it has really flown by.  I feel like I have a great support system and everyone around me has really helped me get through this awful time in my life.

Today marks the beginning of a new cycle.  (Yippee!!) Yesterday I peed on a stick (POAS) to check and make sure that all of the HCG from the pregnancy was out of my system, and it was.  Since the d&c I have not had a period.  They say it can take a while to come naturally so Dr. S. decided to take some action to get it started again.  Thankfully, the doctor's office does appointments on Saturdays so I don't have to miss work for a quick ultrasound and blood work.  Ok, so here is what the appointment will entail today:
1.) beta HCG, E2 and P4 levels (pregnancy test, estrogen and progesterone levels)
2.) Kareotyping for both Brian and I (to make sure our genes are not incompatible)
3.) Ultrasound to check if I have any lining to shed and
4.) Ultrasound to check my antral follicles (aka resting follicles)

Tomorrow I call the doctor's office for the results of my blood work.  If everything is alright they will put me on some type of progesterone pill for 10 days which will cause me to get my period (yippee! NOT.)  After that, more blood work and a super fun test where they put a teeny tiny camera in my hoo-ha to look around and make sure that my uterus is A-OK after the miscarriage.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

And to top it all off......

Lately I have been really trying to think of things to do to take my mind off infertility.  However, I feel that I have been pretty unsuccessful.  I mean seriously, there has to be something out there to do that doesn't cost loads of money to do......  I am trying to save up for my next IVF cycle which will cost about $16,000! On a teacher's salary! I know, its funny, right?

Ok, moving on.... So yesterday I was at work and it was a pretty normal day.  I hadn't been feeling the greatest since Monday morning, but mostly becasue I had been going to bed super late.  The day was going fine until about 2:00. All of the sudden, it was like the classroom was on fire! I was so hot that I thought I was going to pass out.  But of course, what can I do about this? I have to just keep on teaching because the classes aren't going to teach themselves.  I made it to the end of the day and headed down to the nurse's office.  The nurse was gone, so the secretary took my temperature using this cool thermometer that you just swipe across the forehead.  Neat! She looks at it and goes, "Uh oh!" and told me that I had a temperature of 100.2.  Great, I thought, just great.  I went back up to my classroom and made some sub plans so that if I felt crappy later that I could call in and get a sub. (BTW- thats one hard thing about being a teacher- you can't just call in sick when you are sick because school still goes on when you aren't there.) 

By the time I was done making my sub plans I was freezing cold when just hours before I was roasting. It was then I knew that this "illness" was not getting better any time soon.  I got home, fell asleep for a while, woke up and took my temp again.  It was 102.3! This was getting bad, and fast! Thats when I decided that it was NOT a good idea to go to work and risk A.) getting sicker and B.) getting everyone else sick.

While it was nice to be able to stay home and rest, the looming thought in my mind was, "Will I have enough sick time left to do IVF again this spring?" IVF requires a lot of appointments which in turn means time off of work. This is my 3rd year at my job and this is the "critical" year because if I get renewed again, I will have tenure or non-probationary status.  So, I really don't want to do anything to not get renewed.  I have talked with both principals (I teach at two schools) and they are both very supportive of my decision to start a family.  However, I still don't want to do anything to make them question hiring me on for the long haul. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Need to Vent!

I am officially sick of seeing pregnancy tickers, ultrasound photos, baby pics, preggo belly pics, and comments about how people hate being pregnant on Facebook!!  It seems like every my news feed refreshes, there is someone new saying something about their new family or their family to be.  Some days I really feel like putting something on my status to the effect of what I said earlier, or unfriending everyone with the "perfect happy family" but then I realize that if I did  that I probably would have about 12 friends on Facebook. 

Don't get me wrong, I am very happy that people are having babies, as it has happened for centuries and will continue until the end of time, but honestly I am very jealous.  It seems as though people who don't even want babies or like babies can just sneeze and get pregnant and are then like Whoops! There are so many people like Brian and I around that have been together forever and would do just about anything to have a baby. Its just frustrating to say the least.

 I know that most people do not understand the world of infertility and couldn't possibly understand how much it feels like a slap in the face every time you see babies or someone pregnant. I think that if people were educated on the issue of infertility, maybe they would be more sensitive but who knows. 

On a happy side note, I finished the literature review part of my paper that I have to write for my Master's degree! It took a long time, many distractions, and much support from my dear husband but I finally got 'er done! Yippee! =D

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Regroup Appointment

Yesterday I went to the long awaited regroup appointment with Dr. S.  I thought that I knew exactly what he was going to tell us because 60% of the time blighted ovums (aka an empty sac) happen because the embryo has a genetic abnormality.  I was certain that he was going to give us some strategies to improve egg/sperm quality, or give us a new medication protocol for next time so that we could get better embryos.  But, much to my amazement I was completely wrong.

When we sat down in his sunny office with overpriced high-backed cushy rolly chairs, he apologized for canceling our appointment on Wednesday because of his broken tooth. After that, he immediately told us that our genetic testing of the fetal tissue had come back and......... it was a normal female... he said. 

WHAT!?! I was absolutely shocked and all of my certainty of our issues went right out the window.  Now what? I wondered.  He explained to us again that 60% of miscarriages are because of genetic abnormalities and 40% are because of unknown issues.  He was very honest with us and said that he was as baffled as we were with the whole situation.  After my first pregnancy loss in June (chemical pregnancy) he ran all of the tests for Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) in hopes that we would not have to endure another loss.  I am borderline hypothyroid so he treated that.  I have one of the MTHFR enzymes which doesn't even qualify me for the true homozygus something or other issue, but he gave me Folgard (extra folic acid and B vitamins) just to be on the safe side.  I take baby aspirin to thin the blood a little so that I won't get blood clots.  I take Metformin because I "sort of" have Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) but don't even have the insulin resistance that can possibly go with that.  He stuck a camera in my hoo ha and looked at my uterus and said that I get an "A+." I have 37 antral or resting follicles in my ovaries which is way better than average.  I had 23 eggs with my last IVF and 21 were mature when some women are lucky to get 10 mature.  I ended up with 8 "beautiful" blastocysts to freeze which gave me amazing odds of having a kiddo out of that batch of embryos.  I JUST DON'T GET IT!

I left the meeting being satisfied and dissatisfied all at the same time. I now know that
1.) I had at least 1 genetically normal embryo
2.) Pretty much everything that could possibly be wrong me has been diagnosed/treated
3.) My chances for having a biological baby are still okay
4.) There are 2 blood tests and some experimental treatments that could be done (Kareotype and Killer Cell)
5.) My doctor does not have all the answers (but at least he was honest about it)
6.) Trying to have a baby is going to be A LOT more expensive than I had ever imagined
7.) I cannot control what I cannot control

I hate to admit that I am a person who likes to have control over most situations.  I think a lot of teachers are this way because we spend our days controlling our classroom environments.  However, I realize after all of this that I just cannot control what goes on inside my uterus.  Science can get my uterus ready, help make embryos in the best laboratory environment possible, and get them safely into my uterus.  After that, its not up to me, the doctor, or anybody else what happens inside there.  The embryo is either going to implant itself or its not.  The pregnancy is either going to continue or its not.  I have to relinquish my control and tell myself that once that embryo is in there it is out of my hands and I just have to believe that my baby will come to the earth when its ready.  Until then, I just wait.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

In spite of all the hardships we have endured with our infertility journey, I still have a lot to be thankful for and should not forget that.

  • My amazing husband- Brian has been my rock through all of this.  He always stays positive and reassures me that one day we will have a baby.  He even cooks me dinner every night so that is one less thing that I have to think about!
  • My wonderful family- Even though all of my family lives in Minnesota and Brian and I are in Colorado they give me lots of support.  The smallest things like an email, phone call or text message from them makes me know that they are here for us.
  • My 2 furbabies- My puppy and kitty can't talk back to me but they sure are good listeners!  Animals seem to know when you need them.
  • My friends- Sharing my thoughts is one of my coping methods and my friends have been amazing listeners!  Most people do not know a lot about infertility (I didn't either!) but it helps me to share whats going on with my treatments.  I don't think I could have made it through these hard times without those people who have supported me along the way.

For me, Thanksgiving has been a day to reflect on recent events and realize that I do have a lot to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

More Waiting

Today was supposed to be my regroup appoint with Dr. S.  The point of the meeting is to talk about what happened with my miscarriage, what tests we need to run, and what the next cycle will look like.  I even had a whole list of questions ready to go to bring to the meeting.  At about 10:00 my phone rang and it was the doctor's office.  I couldn't imagine any reason that they would have to call me today since they called yesterday to confirm my appointment.  The receptionist says, "I'm really sorry, but Dr. S broke his tooth today and has to get it fixed so we need to move your appointment to another day." Normally things like this wouldn't bother me, but I have been thinking about the conversation that Brian and I were going to have with the doctor for two weeks!!  Luckily he agreed to come in on Friday (even though it is his day off) and meet with us.  I was very happy about that because I didn't want to have to take off time from work.  I guess I just have more time to think about questions!

Because we didn't have the appointment today, it gave Brian and I time to go appliance shopping.  Our oven spontaniously died a couple weeks ago so we really needed to buy another one.  But, the deals were so good that we got sucked into buying an oven and a new refrigerator.  We have been wanting one ever since we moved in, so I guess it was about time.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Where it all began (long post)

After a long journey through the world of infertility, I finally decided to start a blog sharing my story and experiences.  Its been a long road that is still not over.  I think I will start with how it all began!

1999- In December of 1999 I met Brian at the Caribou Coffee that I worked at.  He came into the store just like any other customer and ordered a Turtle Mocha and a piece of cake.  I was the barista that day and proceeded to make his drink and make small talk.  We started talking and realized that we had a friend in common even though we went to neighboring high schools.  After talking for a bit, he sat down, drank his coffee and attempted to eat the cake, however that piece happened to be icky and stale.  He came back and told me so I offered to give him a free piece of cake next time he came in to make up for the bad one.  I didn't think much of this day at the time, but after that I saw him more and more since he worked at the Video Update in the same strip mall.  Needless to say, he came in to Caribou and ordered a lot of coffee he didn't really want and I went to Video Update and rented lots of movies that I never intended on watching. 

2002- During the summer between Freshman and Sophomore year of college at UW-La Crosse, Brian decided to take a summer job selling books door-to-door in Texas.  It was hard to be away from him for 3 months, but I knew that it was a good experience for him. At the end of August I was super excited for him to come home because I had missed him so much.  I talked to him the day before he was going to start his trek from Texas to Tennessee to finish up his business at the headquarters of the company he had worked for all summer.

 All seemed well and they had a plan for who was going to drive what car, etc. Brian drove all the way from Texas to New Orleans, where they got out, saw the sights of Bourbon Street and switched drivers to give them a break.  About two hours into the new driver's turn, she fell asleep at the wheel.  Going seventy miles per hour, the car veered off the highway, went down a steep hill, and crashed the car sideways into a crowded forest.  Brian flew out of the backseat and landed in the woods.  The other car they were driving with realized that the car Brian was in had gone off the road and called 911.  The paramedics had a horrible time trying to get the driver and Brian out of the woods since the hill was almost too steep to take the stretchers up. 

I still remember the day when I got "the call" that would change my life.  The phone rang at about 10:30 a.m. and woke me up.  A somber voice said, "Brian's been in a car accident and he can't feel his legs." I couldn't even comprehend what was being said to me on the phone.  I immediately ran upstairs, told my mom what had happened and went over to Brian's parents house to see what was going on.  His parents flew out right away to be with him and make decisions and I waited at his house with his brother and sister-in-law.  It was one of the longest days of my life, just not knowing if he was even going to make it. 

The next day, I scraped together all the money I had earned that summer and flew to Mississippi with his older brother.  On the plane ride we talked about "preparing ourselves for the worst" but once we got there, he looked worse than I could have even imagined.  He had cuts all over, blood, tubes, bandages, you name it- he had it. I didn't know what to do or say, but I felt like being there was what I could do at that point. 

After a little over a week in that awful hospital in Mississippi, Brian was transported to the Mayo Clinic where he spent 3 months in rehabilitation before being discharged and coming home.  This was the beginning of his life with a new identity as a paraplegic.

2003- February 14th, 2003 Brian took me out to a romantic dinner and proposed! I couldn't have been happier!

2005- July 30th, 2005 Brian and I got married!  It was an amazing day that we shared with family and friends.  Brian did forget the rings at his parents house, but luckily his Best Man knew how to drive like a racecar driver and got the rings before the ceremony started.

2008- Brian graduated from MSU with a Master's degree and we are off to Colorado so he can pursue a PhD in Communication Studies.

2009- We are finally ready to start a family after being settled in Colorado for a year and being married for 4 years.

July- Brian and I always knew that we would have a hard time trying to conceive (TTC) because of his injury but what we didn't know is that it would be a physically and emotionally draining journey.  In July, we met with a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) who was recommended to us.  On our initial visit the RE explained to us different treatments that we could choose and decided to try the intrauterine insemination (IUI).  This procedure is relatively simple.  They tracked my monthly cycle, ran some blood work, and made me ovulate using a "trigger shot" a.k.a. an injection (ouch!) While I was ovulating, they took Brian's "sample" and put it directly into my uterus giving the swimmers a head start. We did 3 IUIs from October-December and neither of them were successful.  That meant it was time for in vitro fertilization (IVF).

2010- In March we were finally ready for our first cycle of IVF.  This meant lots of injections, pills, patches, appointments, and heartache. 

The IVF cycle started out great! I was responding well to the medications and had lots of eggs maturing in my ovaries.  Usually a woman's ovaries produce one egg per month, but with this, I ended up with 23! On my day of retrieval (where they put you under anesthesia, and go in and get the eggs) I was super excited. I was thinking to myself, "Wow, I am going to be pregnant in no time!" Out of the 23 eggs they retrieved, 21 were mature, 18 fertilized, and 8 embryos made it to great quality day 5 blastocysts.  I was stoked!

The day before my transfer (where they put the embryos in the uterus) I wasn't feeling well.  I had horrible abdominal pain and couldn't hardly stand up.  My mom was in town visiting and eventually she and Brian convinced me to call the on call doctor to see if this was normal or not.  Well, it was not normal at all.  They had me come in first thing in the morning to check me out and see what was going on.  The diagnosis was Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS). I was devastated because this meant no transfer and that I would have to wait for my body to not be a "toxic environment" for my beautiful embryos. 

June- After waiting 3 months for my body to normalize I was finally ready for a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET).  I was soooo excited that I couldn't even contain myself.  The transfer went great, and all was well until I found out that once again, I was NOT pregnant but rather had a chemical pregnancy.  This is where the embryo temporarily implants but it is genetically abnormal and does not continue growing.  I was devastated again.

October- After waiting another 3 months I was ready for yet another FET.  I had 5 embryos left and was super excited because I thought I had a chance for at least 2 more transfers.  On the day of transfer the embryologist cane into the room to give me the "thaw" report.  He told me that they had to thaw all 5 of my remaining embabies to get 2 that thawed and survived.  I was so upset that I started crying right there and then. I knew that if I didn't get pregnant this go around that I would have to do another IVF fresh cycle which is much more invasive than the FET.  But, all I could do was hope for the best and keep myself occupied for the 12 days that I had to wait to find out if it had worked or not.  October 13th was one of the longest days of my life! I went in early for blood work an waited and waited for the nurse to call and tell me if I was pregnant or not.  The phone rang and the nurse says, "Congratulations, you are pregnant!" I couldn't even believe the words I was hearing and was in a state of shock for a few hours.  I set up an appointment for an ultrasound and couldn't wait to hear a beautiful heartbeat.

November- November 1st was the day of my first ultrasound.  I was so nervous and excited!  I couldn't wait to see this baby that was growing and that I had longed to have for so long. 

Brian came with me to the appointment and they showed us to the ultrasound room.  It was a little cramped with the 2 of us and a tech in the room, but I didn't care.  She turned off the lights and probed me with the ultrasound wand.  She didn't say anything for a while and I didn't know what exactly I should have seen on the screen.  The tech says to me, "Jessica, I am so sorry but there is nothing inside the sac." I was devastated once again.  This time I had finally gotten pregnant, but had another bad embryo that did not develop correctly.  There was a gestational sac, but that was all- no heartbeat and no baby. 

I didn't even know how to feel.  I was so angry and confused.  I just kept thinking that this must be a mistake or a really bad dream.  They put us in an exam room and we waited to talk to one of the nurse practitioners to discuss what to do about this.  She said that we needed to do a D&C to get the pregnancy tissue out of my uterus so that I could move on from this.  I was still so confused and in a state of shock.  I could have never predicted this happening and didn't know why it was happening to me. 

I scheduled the D&C for the very next day.  It was a horribly emotional day especially because when I showed up at the infertility clinic for my procedure someone had the nerve to bring her baby with to her appointment.  I lost it and started crying my eyes out.  My "baby" was going to be sucked out of my uterus and I had to look at someone and their happy little family? Seriously?  I obviously was not in my right mind but still, people can show common courtesy for other people's feelings. 

After the procedure I went home and tried to process everything that had happened in the last 2 days but it was nearly impossible.  I cried and tried to figure out why this was all happening but obviously there are no magical answers because these things just seem to happen.  So, now its back to the drawing board.  We meet with the RE this Wednesday to discuss whats next and hopefully he will have some answers for us.  All I want is a happy and healthy baby.  Is that so much to ask?