Monday, September 29, 2014

IVF Round 3/FET Round 2

Today was our WTF appointment with Dr. G.  Joe was unable to go because he is really busy with work right now and couldn't take the time off so my mom decided to join me so she could finally meet Dr. G and his team.  I was happy to have the moral support and a second ear.

We went over all of our stats, we have 5 remaining early blastocysts left, all AA grade.  I've responded perfectly to the Lupron and all other medications.  What it basically boils down to is that having multiple failed cycles of IVF in the world of science is normal and, although it's hard not to feel discouraged, we shouldn't according to our doctor.  The IVF success rate is 40% which is good, but it leaves a 60% chance of failure.  Dr. G is still confident that this will work for us.  We discussed transferring two embryos, but I told him I was only comfortable with one and he agreed with me.  

I did ask my list of questions starting with an endo scratch and an endo biopsy, neither of which he said is proven to contribute to IVF success and he does not recommend.  He said that if we did do a biopsy that we would have to wait another cycle after the biopsy was performed because the endometrium would be damaged during the procedure. 

We discussed the PDG testing of the embryos, but with only one left that was fertilized via ICSI and with it already being a day-5 embryo, we cannot test it.  We talked about another fresh cycle with possible testing, but said that since we had genetic blood work done on ourselves already that he doesn't recommend another fresh cycle because of the results of that testing, my age, and my health.  He basically said that in 36 years they've come long way with IVF, but all that they can do is make the embryo, place it back inside, and wait to see what happens, they have no control once that embryo is inside the uterus.  It's up to your body and nature to perform and if an embryo is abnormal, chances are it's not going to implant.  He said that over 50% of embryos are abnormal and most of the time the body will reject those embryos since the whole point of our reproductive system is to create a healthy baby that will eventually be able to reproduce.  There are of course, some exceptions to this, and there is always a chance that an abnormal embryo could implant. 

What we've basically decided is to move forward with another frozen transfer in the exact same way that we did with the last transfer.  I haven't gotten a date yet, but I am supposed to call tomorrow to speak with the IVF nurse coordinator and make the arrangements.  It should be at the end of October, early November.

I feel confident and happy with the consultation and the decision to move forward.  Dr. G has been in the business for a long time, he has a great sense of humor, and if he is confident in me as a patient then I am confident in him as my doctor.  Although I was a little disappointed initially about not doing any of the testing that I had inquired about, I didn't feel any doubt as I left the appointment.  We are still taking a chance by not having our embryos tested for chromosomal abnormalities, but that is a chance that I'm willing to take at this time.  Out of 7 of our embryos we have used 2.  With a 50% chance of abnormality, we are still taking a gamble.  Dr. G said that my "unlimited" insurance coverage is another reason to jump right into another cycle and after our discussion today, for now, I am OK with everything and ready to move forward with this next transfer. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Favorites & Fertility Friday

So I'm going to be combining my Friday posts this week because I think both of these link ups are fab and I want to participate in both.  Hopefully that's not breaking any rules! So, linking up with Amanda and Jessah today!

Fertility Forefront:
So this week I started BCP on Monday.  CD1 was Saturday and when I called to report cycle start, she told me to start BCP ASAP.  I know that this cycle could be postponed, but we won't know for sure until after our consultation next Monday.  I'm anxious to get some answers about some of the testing that I'd like to have done before we move on to IVF cycle #3.  

Also, just a quick shout out to my girl Rachael @ Unnaturally Knocked Up for the sweet gift after my BFN last week.  She sent me a Penelope the Piggie, it's so sweet and such a unique gift.  I love the TTC community and my sisters!  So thoughtful!

Favorite Moment:
Getting the windows and doors installed on the house!  We are going to have a lot to keep our minds off of TTC and IVF for the next few months and I'm hoping that those distractions might make this next cycle less stressful  Maybe taking my mind off of the process will be better.  I'm so happy with the way that everything has turned out so far.  Just beautiful!  Also, our 3 year anniversary was Wednesday!  Can't believe its been 3 years already!

complementary chocolate sundae for our 3 years!  thank you Bartley's!

first professional photo of us by the house right after it was excavated!  We were doing some shooting that day! 

Favorite Pin:
so in love with this jacket!

Favorite Thing I'm looking Forward To:
Our WTF appointment on Monday, dinner for a friends 30th birthday this weekend, our electric service being installed finally (I know, kinda lame!) and hopefully getting to see my bestie and baby Jase this weekend!  I haven't gotten to see or spend much time with them lately and I miss them!

Favorite Funnies:

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Happy 3 Year Anniversary! (To Us!)

Happy anniversary Joe!  I can’t believe that it has been 3 years since our wedding.  It feels like it was just yesterday and I’m actually thankful for that because it was such a fun wedding and I’m so happy that I remember it so vividly, even after all those mimosas and sangria’s I drank all day.  Our wedding was stress-free and care-free.  Of course wedding planning was not either of those things, but our actual wedding day was.  The rain held off, everything went smooth, and we had so much fun.  I danced my ass off, playing with sparklers and drinking champagne out of the bottle.  My MOH had her dress on practically backward by the end of the night, there was lots of great memories from that night that I will never forget. 

love my dress!
25 bottles of champagne drank by 7PM, reception started at 6
our rings on some giant orchids that lined the aisle

In 3 years we have been through a lot more than I ever expected.  Things didn’t go according to the plan that I envisioned in my head, and now we are on a different path that I could never have imagined.  It’s a path that is making our marriage, already built on a strong foundation, even stronger, but today I don’t want to focus on infertility because that is not what defines our marriage.  There’s a lot more to the Ridley’s than that!

love that we incorporated our bike, this is the bike we'd wreck on 6 months later...
loved my dress and my cascade of orchids so much!
my handsome husband, so proud to call him MINE!
my favorite picture of me... ever.
all the groomsmen rode their motorcycles to the wedding
our grand entrance, sparklers and all! 

If I had to pick some words to define our marriage I would pick strong, adventurous, fun, & loving. We've had to endure some tough times as a couple, 6 months in as newlyweds we got into a motorcycle accident, it was a lot to deal with and something that helped strengthen us as a couple as I relied heavily on Joe and his family, his dad especially, to help me get around, help with the dog, etc. since they were our neighbors and I’m so thankful to them and the rest of our family & friends for all they did for us during that time.  I consider us to be adventurous because we absolutely love to take the bike and go, I wish that we got to do as much riding this summer as we did last.  It’s something that we both find true joy in and we experience that joy together.  We love to travel not only on the bike but also take vacation, cruises especially and explore beautiful destinations together.  We've always had lots of fun together, it just comes naturally for us and I think that's how you know you're meant to for each other.  At this moment we are having so much fun building our house and picking out all the details.  It has been majorly stressful too, but it’s been more fun and more rewarding than anything I can imagine and I can’t wait to see it all come together.  And of course, last but not least loving, I think that’s a word that should describe any successful marriage.  We have lots of love for each other that grows every single day with each struggle, with each fight, with each laugh, with each accomplishment.

our first dance
 me and my dad
we danced
 and danced...
and danced...
 and danced some more!
this is one of my favorite pics from the wedding, all of my favorite ladies in one photo!

3 down already with so much more in store for us over our lifetime.  I don’t think that we’ve even began to scratch the surface of what is to come for us.  Between seeing our house being built and finished and hopefully welcoming some children into our lives, I can’t wait to see what else our future holds.  We’ve faced challenges from the beginning and there is no one else that I’d rather face those challenges with than Joe.  He is such a genuine person who has always been himself and allowed me to be myself and that is so important in a relationship.  Our marriage has grown over the years for the best and I know that will continue as we make this journey together.  Here’s to 3 down and forever to go!

Monday, September 22, 2014

CD1 & More on our next cycle

Going into a 3rd cycle with a positive outlook is going to be the most challenging it has ever been.  I know that it's only been a week since our BFN and it's still very fresh in my mind and I'm sure that my attitude towards this cycle will change just like it has in the past.  But with each failure, it gets harder and harder to stay optimistic.  A few days ago I was scrolling through my Instagram feed when I saw a quote that really spoke to me and I really found myself agreeing with.  Emily Dear Heart is a gorgeous tattoo model and she always posts such inspirational words.  She says, "what a difference our souls would feel if we allowed failure to be freeing"... then this was her caption... "No risk, no reward. Each and every failure we are blessed with is yet another chapter to grow and become more prepared for the future we are destined to live. Let your failure make you free, it's here to teach us all we can handle more than we think. Failure is a tool. Let it lead you to where you are going, not stop you in your tracks." I couldn't agree more with this statement and I'm going to try hard to remember this while we figure out what will happen next for us on this journey.  

This first weekend after another BFN was bittersweet.  Although last weekend I was fairly certain that our 2nd FET was unsuccessful, I still held onto the last shred of hope that my beta could prove the HPT wrong.  Saturday was CD1 which is a good sign and typically means the start of another cycle, but I'm not sure if this cycle is going to happen right away if the doctor will agree to some of the testing that I am going to ask about.  We won't know until next Monday the 29th, I'm anxious about our appointment and I really hope that we can take some new steps to get some answers that I think are completely necessary before we move onto another cycle.

This weekend was also Vintage Illinois, it's the biggest wine festival in the state and it's always the 3rd weekend of September.  Last year Jessica and I volunteered which was so much fun.  We basically just welcomed people in at Will Call and handed them their glasses and tickets, and drank free wine all day.  A few months ago I was asked to volunteer again this year, but I was sure that I would be pregnant by the time the event rolled around so I decided not to.  I was again proved wrong and ended up going to the festival with my mom and Jessica.  It was a lot of fun, but it was also something that I was so certain I wouldn't be doing so it was a little disappointing as well.  What I've finally realized is that over the last three years I have told myself, I will be pregnant by this time or that time so I don't want to commit to certain things, I base my plans on the "well, if I'm pregnant", what I really need to do is just stop setting expectations about when I think I will be pregnant because it's only led to A LOT of let down.  I should've learned this a long time ago, but I guess it's just now starting to settle in that I may never meet those expectations that I've set for myself.  

On the positive and less depressing side of things, our 3 year anniversary is Wednesday!  We decided no gifts this year because of the house.  No gifts can compare to the one we are giving ourselves right now by building our forever home, but we are planning on dinner at Bartley's on Wednesday to celebrate.  

I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend and enjoys this last full week of September.  I can't believe that it will be October in just a few short days!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Taking Our Infertility to a Whole New Level

What has come from a second IVF BFN is more frustration and lots more questions.  Reviewing my cycle on my own (my WTF appointment isn't until the 29th) and going over everything in my head made me realize that there has to be more to it.  My lining was 12mm at my ultrasound prior to the transfer so I imagine the day of transfer it was around 15-18mm, the necessary thickness for a successful implantation.  We used the embryo that was farthest long in development and they assisted it in hatching.  Joe and I both had genetic testing done prior to our fresh cycle to rule out any genetic abnormalities that we might carry.  I really thought that this would all be a recipe for success and I was wrong.  

The outcome of this cycle has raised lots of questions, many that I didn't even know that I would be asking until I took to the wonderful world of Instagram and reached out to my TTC sisters for what I should be asking at our WTF consultation.  The biggest question that we need to answer before I would move forward will be is it the embryos or is it me?  From what I am understanding from the doctor, PDG testing isn't necessary on the embryos because our genetics testing came back as negative (although I am CF carrier, Joe is not), but I am still going to ask if it's something that we should reconsider doing.  I'm also going to ask about PGS testing, basically testing for chromosomal abnormalities in the embryos.  Those are two important tests that I feel we need to do to rule out the embryos that could have issues.  There is no sense in transferring embryos that are abnormal because they won't implant or could implant and end up causing birth defects in our child.  The only problem with these kinds of testing is that they can only be done on embryos that were fertilized via ICSI and I'm not sure how many of our 5 frosties were done that way.

There are also a multitude of testing that can be done on me to determine if I'm the problem.  One would be testing for Natural Killer Cells (NK Cells) and other immune system issues.  They can cause the body to react abnormally to an implanting embryo.  To treat issues with NK Cells an infusion called an Intralipid infusion can be done.  From what I've seen online this is an infusion that takes anywhere from 90 minutes to 4 hours.  It's made up of natural fats containing egg yolk and soya oil and it's commonly used to treat patients with MS and cancer, but can also be used to aid IVF patients with immune disorders.  

Two other options are an endometrial scratch and an endometrial biopsy.  An endometrial scratch to me sounds awful, but it is something that I really hope Dr. G will consider.  The only downside to this procedure is it has to be done on day 21 of a 28 day cycle so this could require waiting another month since I'm at CD1.  During an endo scratch, a catheter is used to "scratch" the lining of the uterus which will cause the uterus to go into "repair reaction" which can help aid the embryo in implantation.  An endometrial biopsy, or E-Tegrity test is used to detect the presence of Beta-3 integrin which is a protein for the embryo to successfully implant.  I asked about the E-Tegrity test already and the nurse says that our clinic does not offer that testing, but we are welcome to ask Dr. G and possibly have it done elsewhere.  

These are some issues that I never knew even existed.  I had never heard of any of these things until my friend Beth mentioned the E-Tergrity test which then prompted me to seek out the help of my lovely TTC sisters & find out what else I need to be asking.  I am afraid that they will push transferring 2 embryos as the solution to our problem and I am not willing to do that at this point. We want to do what we have to for a healthy pregnancy not what we have to just to get pregnant,  I am certain that if this 3rd cycle doesn't work we will probably be seeking out a 2nd opinion which I would not look forward to doing.  I like our clinic, and our team of doctors and nurses, they have been great, but sometimes a situation just needs to be reevaluated and looked at by a fresh set of eyes. We have a long road ahead of us before we have to come to making that decision.  I am hopeful that our doctor will really listen to our concerns and take them into consideration and hopefully agree to some, if not all, of this testing.  I don't see the point in going through another round and doing the exact same thing, it just seems like a waste of an embryo and a waste of our time and money. Hopefully we will be able to get some solid answers, if nothing else to rule out some of these potential issues.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Story of Us - Our Engagement

I thought I'd continue the story of us sharing our engagement story.  You can check out the abridged version here but there is a longer version too that's a little funny, and a little sad at the same time. 

We had this cruise planned for about a year. It was during Valentine's Day week of 2011. We were going to Nassau, St. Thomas, & St. Maarten and Joe's sister Melissa and her husband Emery were going to come with us.  This was our second cruise together and I was excited that another couple would be joining us!  They had never been on a honeymoon or anything so we were really excited that they would be able to experience their first big vacation with us!

I was really hoping and praying that Joe was going to finally propose on this trip.  We had been living together since August of 2009 and I was more than ready to be married let alone just be engaged!  I had a good feeling, but I honestly did not know for certain if it would happen on this vacation, a celebration of our 3 year anniversary and Valentine's Day, I mean you couldn't ask for a better time to be proposed to!

We flew down to Orlando the day before embarkation got a few drinks and dinner, and went to bed early so that we could be up and ready in time to take the 50 mile trip to Canaveral where we got on the ship.  So far we were having an absolute blast!  Once we got to the port we got in line and before you can even go inside a lady asks for your passport.  Joe and I had passports from our previous cruise, but Melissa and Emery decided to use their birth certificates (which was Ok'd by the travel agent) to board.  Everything went fine until Emery was asked for his ID.  He ended up having the wrong birth certificate, it has to be the one with all of your vital statistics on it, not the commemorative one.  Immediate panic mode set in, it was a Saturday and we had no idea how we were going to get someone to find Emery's certificate and get it down to us.  We called all the family that we could, we spent a few hours trying to make arrangements to get his paperwork, but we just couldn't pull it off.  We ended up boarding at the last possible time that we could and had to leave them at the port.  It was the saddest thing to watch them standing while the entire port was deserted as we left for our vacation. They ended up getting a really nice hotel room for free at the Orlando airport because Southwest felt so terrible for them.

this was our sad faces for Melissa & Emery
then we quickly realized we couldn't let it ruin our vacation

A couple days into the cruise was Valentine's Day.  We were at sea that day traveling from Nassau, our first stop, to St. Thomas, our second.  It was a little cool and cloudy that day but we spent the afternoon on the deck trying to catch some rays before dinner.  We went back to the room to get ready, Joe jumped into the shower while I took a nap.  I got in the shower and while I was in Joe went down to get some roses and a bottle of champagne.  I got out and started getting ready, Joe came back to the room with the Valentine's Day surprises which I thought were really sweet.  I was sitting at the vanity applying my make up and combing my hair, sitting in a pair of shorts and a bra, to my right I look over and Joe is down on one knee, I was totally caught off guard!  And of course I said YES!

please excuse my awful, unpolished fingers, my manicure only lasted like a day...

He told me that Melissa actually had the ring in her carry-on bag the entire time and he had to sneak it from her while we were at port and keep it in his pocket all afternoon until he could get a second to put it away.  I couldn't believe he pulled it off.  I immediately fell in love with my ring.  The diamonds are from the engagement ring and band that my dad gave my mom.  Joe brought it to a local jeweler a year prior in February of 2010 and started working on redesigning it.  I couldn't believe that he took so much time and put so much thought into making my ring special and something I could call my own.  It's not the most romantic story, but it's definitely memorable and one I'll never ever forget!

St. Thomas 
St. Thomas
St. Thomas
St. Thomas
St. Maarten
St. Maarten
 St. Maarten

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