Thursday, December 31, 2015

Final beta...


My HCG level dropped to a 4 as of today.  I was instructed to discontinue my meds as of today.  You know the saying “trust your intuition”, well it is the truth, trust it and it will not steer you wrong.  I knew when Tuesday’s results came back that the level has stayed the same that this was going to take a turn for the worst, and it did. 


When I think about this journey I think back to the beginning and how na├»ve I was.  Back in October 2013 we were fresh in the fertility world I had no clue what was in store for us.  And almost 2 years to THE DAY, I am miscarrying again for a second time.  Its very heart breaking to think we are still basically stuck in the same position that we were at that time except for in 2013 we hadn’t committed as much as we have at this point to infertility.  Are we just a bunch of suckers?  Kind of seems like it. 


In 27 months we have had 2 IUIs, 6 cycles of IVF, and 2 miscarriages.  We have consulted with 4 doctors and have been treated by 3.  We have transferred NINE embryos, NINE!  And only one of those has implanted, and only just barely.  Although we have come a long way, when I look at it on paper, we have made very little progress and now I am more heartbroken than ever.  I have watched so many women get pregnant and that is part of being involved in the TTC community, you see the success stories and it’s truly amazing, but you always wonder if you’ll be on the other side of it.  The side that gets to say “I beat infertility”, and you just never know if you will. 


We have a phone consultation with Dr. Sherbahn on January 26th to discuss the IVF fail and hopefully determine what could possibly come next for us.  I am not sure if I want to gamble with my own eggs again if the outcome is going to be the same as it was this cycle and I know there’s no one that can guarantee to me that that won’t happen.  I am very curious about what he has to say and what his suggestions are.  Luckily that is about a month away so that will give us some time to take our minds off of infertility & IVF (oh come on who am I kidding) and focus on other aspects of our lives.  Then hopefully we can come up with a little bit of a plan while we are on our break. 


I am not getting any younger and all that is happening with my age is my fertility health is decreasing so I don’t want to wait too long before taking our next steps.  I know that we may need to adjust our sails a bit and start considering a different route.  I just feel in my heart that is what our next steps are.  Do we keep beating our heads against a wall over and over or do we pick a new route and a different plan of action?  Maybe things aren’t going to ever happen the way we wished them to, maybe it’s just not meant to be that way.  The dysfunction of my body may never allow me to carry out things the way I think they should be carried out.  Do I keep working against it or do I start to work with it?  So many questions I never thought I’d be asking myself at this stage in my life. 


Peace out 2015.  Although it was an amazing year in so many ways with our beautiful forever home finally being completed and all of the joy that that has brought into our lives, we are still fighting a battle that I know I spend many hours of my day thinking about, obsessing about, worrying about, & wondering about.  2016, please be good to us.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Beta Hell...

You may (or may not) have been wondering what our beta results for IVFx6 were after it all crumbled to pieces before our eyes over the last couple weeks.  My scheduled beta day was December 26th so I got up early and headed to the lab to get my blood drawn.  I really had no clue what the outcome would be, but I knew that things weren't really in our or our embryos' favor so I assumed BFN and sulked around the house most of the morning waiting for the call.

Around 11 the nurse called to tell me that my HCG level was an 8.  They wanted to see over 50, but she said I needed to continue taking my meds and go back Tuesday for a second beta.  I was in fact, pregnant, but just barely as the lowest pregnancy level of HCG is 5.  My progesterone level was also only a 26 which is low for a pregnancy.  I was devastated, but I thought maybe since we transferred our embryos in their early stages, I thought they could just be lagging behind in implantation too.  I tried to keep up the positive spirit and soak in the fact that I was pregnant, even if it was just a teensy bit.

It seemed like it would take forever until Tuesday until I went into work Monday and we were having such a bad ice storm I ended up being asked to stay at work.  I work for a gas and electric power company and we had lots of outages and broken poles due to the heavy ice that was accumulating.  I welcomed the extra $ on my paycheck, but overnight storms always make for a slow night.  Once 6am rolled around and I had put in 24 hours of work, I went to the hospital for my 2nd beta before heading home to crash.  

The office didn't call me until after 2 which was frustrating, but I was certain I knew what the answer was going to be.  I had been having some light brown spotting on Monday which I almost always have with each period & was also the exact indicator with my last fresh cycle that it hadn't worked.  I hadn't had really any cramping or any other indications of AF, but I was just convinced that it had gone negative and I was going to miscarry.  The nurse said that my level was still an 8.  It hadn't dropped, but it also hadn't doubled which is what they want to see to determine a viable pregnancy.  I was instructed to, once again, continue my meds and go back for a 3rd beta on Thursday and if things don't begin to increase, we will stop meds and I will miscarry.  

I can't believe that this is happening to us.  What I foresaw as such a successful cycle quickly turned into an absolute nightmare & now I am stuck in beta hell waiting for another 2 days.  I feel like we are just delaying the inevitable by continuing the meds, but we also have to keep hope that something could happen & things could change.  I am eager to meet with Dr. Sherbahn to see what he has to say about all of this.  I hadn't planned on doing another fresh cycle at all because I thought we would be successful with this one, but now I think I need to start thinking about it and possible other options such as egg donation or even embryo adoption as someone has offered me their last remaining embryo.  Joe and I have never really discussed either option because we have always believed that we would be able to beat this with our own eggs and sperm, but I'm not sure that is the case anymore.

If I do end up miscarrying then we will take a break and I will let my body have a couple of natural cycles before we pursue anything else.  We also still have 2 frosties in Peoria so that is always an option as well, but Joe really wants to take some time to focus on us and not have to be committed to anything like constant doctors appointments, and I agree.  

When I think about what I did different this cycle compared to our first fresh cycle 17 months ago when we ended up with our 7 blasts, the only thing I can come up with are the supplements that I took religiously for 3+ months.  I can't see how they would cause any harm, but I'm not sure I will continue to use those as that is the only thing that I changed and the outcome was just very disappointing.  Once again, we won't know much about what's really going on until "cycle completion" when we can finally meet with our doctor.

I have to give a huge shout out to all of my TTC sisters who have been supporting and loving on us so much these last few days.  I seriously have the best tribe and I cannot thank them all enough for everything that they provide for me on an emotional level.  They're all truly amazing.  I also need to thank my husband for his love, support, and continued positivity as we navigate this journey.  He is my rock & my strength.  And thank you to all of my readers who continue to stick around, even though I'm a terrible blogger these days.  

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Everything is falling apart...



It was a week ago today that we got the call, 11 of our 16 embryos had fertilized!  Things were sounding soooo promising for this cycle and we were just elated at how everything had been going. Was this going to be it?  Could it possibly be THE cycle?  I really truly hoped so based on how well things seemed to be unfolding.  Then on Thursday when we received our 5-day embryo update we were shocked to find out that none of the 7 out of the 11 original fertilized embryos had made it to blastocysts, the 5-day cellular stage that they should've been at on that day.  We were devastated and faced with a decision that had to be made very quickly & without much guidance from our doctor.  

We decided to go ahead and transfer 2 of the embryos that were one stage behind blastocyst stage, compacting morulas.  Although this wasn't at all part of the plan and we were completely heartbroken and stressed that things were happening so quickly, what I've learned from this process over the years is that nothing ever seems to go as planned.  There are many variables that have to be exact and precise in order for a cycle to go smoothly & be successful and many times something happens that can throw everything off.  For us, we aren't sure what has happened.  We don't know if our embryos were just a little slower to develop or if their quality is just that bad that they didn't progress as they should.  

I tried to be excited.  Typically transferring & being PUPO is supposed to be such an exciting time, but it certainly wasn't feeling that way at all.  The whole thing just was stressful, rushed, and completely shocking.  Since we had transferred 2 we still had 5 potentials that could make it, although we knew that probably only 2 of those embryos had any chance of making it to biopsy or freeze.  Our plan was to biopsy anything that we had so that we knew what we were making was normal or not.  If they were, then great, we'd freeze them and hopefully have them for later use if need be.  If they weren't then we would know there was other issues at hand.

On Saturday I was feeling much better about things and just trying to be as positive as I could.  I posted a pic and a thank you on Instagram stating that I was so grateful for everyone's prayers and support that had been sent our way over the last few days as we dealt with the situation.  A couple hours later I was on my way into town to get my hair done, eat lunch with my mom, and do my errands when the doctors office called.  They told us that NONE of the 5 remaining embryos had made it far enough to be biopsied and frozen.  Not one.  I broke down and just cried for pretty much the entire day as I just felt as though I was living in some kind of nightmare.  I couldn't have anticipated any of this at all to be happening the way it has.  

Everything seemed so perfect and now it has all just crumbled so quickly right in front of us.  How could we go from creating 7 blastocysts our first cycle in July 2014 to having NONE just a year later? The outcome is similar to our second cycle, but I had just assumed that because we had so little retrieved and mature (5) that the numbers just weren't on our side.  I am even more confused now than I was before we went into this cycle which is the opposite of what I was hoping for.  If my egg quality was poor I wouldn't have expected to make any blasts my first cycle either, could my eggs turn bad within a matter of  year?  I don't think it's possible, but I'm not a doctor so I don't know.

At this point we are holding on to hope that the 2 embryos that we did transfer are snuggling in for the long haul, but it's very hard to keep that optimism when none of the others survived.  It just doesn't seem like the chances of the 2 we transferred making it is very high, but you never know.  I am anxious to talk to our doctor and see if he has any insight into what could have happened.  At this point I have no idea what is in store for us or what our future holds.  We could end up pregnant and this nightmare could quickly turn into our dream coming true, or it could continue to fall apart and put us again in a position of uncertainty and frustration. 

For over 4 years now we have been trying to expand our family.  We have tried every trick in the book and done so many different types of infertility treatments and had so much testing done & never have been given a reason as to why.  I watch people around me have babies, some planned and wanted, some unplanned and unwanted.  I see Christmas cards with pictures of babies on them and I wonder if that will ever be us.  I wonder if we will ever become parents, will I ever carry a pregnancy, will I ever make my mother a grandma, or Joe a father?  I wonder why we have put so much time, money, effort, and hard work into this and have gotten absolutely NOTHING out of it. Not a glimmer of hope, none of the 9 embryos that we have transferred have resulted in a pregnancy, and no answers as to why.  For 4 years now all I have thought every single day of my life is this, of course it didn't start out so bitter and sad, it started out excited and hopeful that it would happen for us quickly and naturally, and then when it didn't, we accepted it for what it was and hit the ground running with treatments and surgeries.  Now here we are, over 2 years of official infertility treatment and we have nothing to show for it.  I am sick and tired of being strong, I'm sick and tired of putting my body through this without any guarantee that it will work.  I want this for us so much, and I'm not sure I will ever be able to let that thought go and move on with my life, especially after it's all you've thought about for so many years.  Will we ever get to be on the other side of this disease?  Will we ever get to say that we beat it?  If only we could take a peek into our future to know that what we are putting so much effort is actually worth the time.  I never thought that we would still be on this road and I wish that it would just come to an end for us.

Friday, December 18, 2015

IVFx6 Update - Embryo Transfer



On Thursday I received a call from the doctor’s office that we had 7 embryos, but that they were lagging behind.  4 were at what is called Compacting Morula stage which is the stage right before blastocyst stage which is where they should’ve been yesterday, day 5.  There were 3 that were also only at morula stage (day 3) that I don’t believe will progress any farther.  I was in complete shock and was so devastated at this news.  I was expecting 5-7 blasts to send off for testing and by day 5 we didn’t have any blasts.  .


They told us that we could do a 5 day transfer but it would have to be TODAY.  I’m at work, Joe is at work, and we are 2 hours away and have no idea if they could even get us in.  I wasn’t anticipating this to happen at all so I was just completely mortified and had no idea what to do.  I called Joe who was at work which makes it nearly impossible to get ahold him.  I finally decided to call his boss and tell him I needed Joe to call me as soon as possible. 


After a very confusing and tear-filled discussion we decided our best bet was to transfer 2 and let the other 5 try to catch up and still have them biopsied and tested if any of them happened to make it.  At this point we have no idea what, if anything, our remaining 5 will turn into.  I am very hopeful that the 2 compacting morulas that we did not transfer will develop into blastocysts and be biopsied for testing. 


Once we made the decision I called the doctor’s office back and they told me we had to be there by 12:40 for a 1pm transfer.  It was already 9:45 and we have a 2 hour drive plus Joe was working an hour away from home.  Talk about stress.  I rushed home to change, rushed to meet Joe, and rushed like crazy to get to the doctor’s office.  We were a few minutes late but there was no one else in the procedure area so I wasn’t too worried about it. 


The transfer went super smooth.  It was relatively painless, we got to watch the embryos be transferred on the TV screen, and then I had to lay down for about 60 minutes.  We made the drive home and I relaxed for the rest of the night and was told I could resume my normal activity today. 


For as long as I’ve been on this journey, I know better than anything that there are lots of twists and turns and unexpected things that can happen, but so far this has probably been one of the biggest plot twists that we’ve had happen to us.  Everything about this cycle was going so well, our numbers were looking so good; I never ever expected them to say what they said to me on the phone yesterday.  Now we just have to hope that at least one of our two babes will make itself comfy for the next 9 months. 


What is supposed to be a time of excitement has just been stressful and heartbreaking.  I had such high hopes for this cycle and now I’m just so unsure of everything that is happening.  I want to be hopeful and excited that these embryos still have a lot of potential to develop & implant, but I just can’t convince myself.  With each cycle it gets harder and harder to convince yourself that anything is going to work.  If this cycle doesn’t work and we end up with no other embryos then I don’t know what we will do or where we will go from here.  I know I shouldn’t even be thinking that far in advance but it is impossible not to.


I am going to try and take this for what it is, embrace the fact that we are PUPO, and enjoy the Christmas celebrations during this dreaded TWW.  At this time I cannot be that beacon of positivity and optimism that I normally am because I am still just numb to everything that happened yesterday, but I do have everything crossed that this will finally be IT for us. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Retrieval & Fertilization Report



After my monitoring appointment on Thursday I got a call from the nurse that they wanted me to trigger that night for retrieval on Saturday!  I was shocked, I figured I wasn’t triggering until Friday, but I was glad I wouldn’t have to take any unpaid/sick time at work.  Dr. Sherbahn wanted me to do one last shot of FSH ASAP on Thursday so when I got home from work I did one last injection of 150iu of Gonal & then did my trigger of 10,000 HCG that night at 11:30.  Our retrieval was scheduled for 10:30 AM on Saturday.


We got up early Saturday and made the drive towards Chicago.  It was really foggy so we left a little earlier than we needed to & the drive really wasn’t bad so we got there about 9:30.  They got me in a recovery room right away & had me give a urine sample and get changed into that lovely hospital gown with the open back.  They were running a little bit behind schedule, but not much.  We got all of our post-retrieval instructions and met with the anesthesiologist.  He got the IV hooked up and shortly after they took me back to the procedure room.  The best part is they give you the anesthesia right away and you have no idea what’s going on.  You don’t have to suffer through the torture of the speculum & the poking and prodding for once.


After the procedure I woke up pretty quickly and was very talkative as always.  I also go a bit nauseous so we stuck around for a bit longer than I had expected we would.  Dr. Sherbahn came back and told us that he retrieved 16 eggs!  I was sooo happy with this number as I was hoping for between 15-18.  I wanted to meet right in the middle of our other 2 cycles and that is exactly where we were.  He said that we would treat this as though we will do a fresh transfer, but he expected enough of my eggs to fertilize and that we would more than likely be able to do the PGS testing.  I slept for most of the ride home and relaxed on the couch feeling bloated and sore for the rest of the day.  Joe made me a grilled cheese and some soup and I went to bed early.


On Sunday I got up and did some errands.  I was nervous about hearing our fert report.  By the time I got home from town the doctor’s office had called to tell us that of the 16 eggs retrieved, 15 were mature, and 11 had fertilized with ICSI!  Once again I was so happy because I was hoping for at least 10.  The embryologist said that we are right on track to do the PGS testing and that we will hear back from them on Thursday.  Fingers and toes crossed that our embies continue to develop & progress!  I’d really love to have 6 embryos to send off for testing, if not more!


A lot of people have been asking about when our transfer will be, referring to a Christmas baby, and curious as to what PGS testing is so I thought I’d just quickly explain how that all works.  PGS testing is a screening for chromosomal abnormalities within an embryo, it tests for certain conditions like Down’s Syndrome.  Only 5+ day embryos can be tested so there is never a guarantee that testing will be done, it can only be planned for.  If there are embryos that make it to day 5/6, then those embryos are biopsied & the cells are sent off to a genetic testing lab.  The actual embryos are frozen and kept at the doctor’s office. It will take about a week to get results.  Because of this process we will actually be doing a frozen transfer in January if we have embryos that end up tested. 


Because there is a chance that the embryos may not develop and progress to day 5 as we would like them to, they also prepare us for a fresh transfer so we have started all the necessary meds like progesterone shots just in case.  In the end it is up to us whether we want to have what makes it to day 5 tested.  If we only had 1 embryo make it that far, then the $5000 out of our own pockets for testing is probably not worth it, but if we have a nice number (like the 6 that I’d like to see), then we would feel more confident about spending that kind of money to have this done. 


As always, appreciate all the sweet comments, thoughts, prayers, love, and support over these last few days!  Fingers crossed for good numbers on Thursday!

Monday, December 07, 2015

IVFx6 Update...




So far this cycle has been moving along at lightning speed.  Today is already day 7 of stims and for a typical IVF cycle stims usually happen for 10-12 days.  We are inching closer and closer to retrieval and I think we will more than likely be set for that this coming weekend!



So far I’ve had 2 monitoring appointments since starting stims last Tuesday the 1st.  At my first appointment on Friday the ultrasound tech said everything looked good.  I didn’t ask how many follicles I had at the time.  They called me Friday afternoon with further instructions & told me I would need to come back on Sunday.  We got up before sunrise & headed back to Gurnee (a 2+ hour drive from home) for another appointment.  Once again I was told things were looking good.  When they called me for further instruction I asked about my follicles.  She said so far I have 20; 4 of them were 10mm, 2 of them were 9mm, and 14 of them were >8mm.  I am happy with the number, but we need to see some major growth over these next few days.  Only follicles 14mm and higher are considered “mature”. 



They upped my dose to 250iu x day (125iu AM & 125iu PM) from 200iu and upped my low-dose HCG from 7 to 8, I started with 6.  I think I am on a pretty good track, just praying for all of these follies to start growing more!  Last night I also added Ganirelix to the mix.  I have to take it at 10pm so I have to set a separate alarm for it because I’m always sleeping at that time.  Ganirelix is used to suppress the LH surge & prevents ovulation.  I will continue this each day until trigger. 



So far I’m feeling pretty good about this whole cycle.  Honestly with work, Thanksgiving, and Christmas in the mix I haven’t really been able to dedicate much thought to any one thing.  It’s honestly a nice distraction.  I know that I am in good hands and I’m in the best condition that I have been during a fresh cycle so I don’t think I have much to worry about anyway.  What I’d really like to see is between 15-18 eggs retrieved & mature so that we have a nice number fertilize for testing.  I am hoping for at least 6 to be sent off to testing.  I hope that I’m not being overzealous with that number. I am also really hoping that the 3+ months of Ubiquiniol CoQ10 that I have been taking is helping increase the quality of my eggs.  From what I’ve seen, most people who have been on CoQ10 have had much more successful cycles so I hope the same goes for us as well.



Everything else in my life has been good.  We’ve been decking our halls & it has been so much fun finding places for everything.  I am obsessed with how cute my whole house turned out.  I am really proud of myself this year (tooting my own horn here!) but I really enjoy Christmas decorating.  We recently adopted a new pet in the Ridley home too.  We got a cat from a farmer and named her Scout.  She’s a little shit, but she’s so cute and cuddly we just love her.  Franks not really sure what to think of her. 

 







I hope everyone is having an amazing holiday season so far!  Remember this time of year is about spending time with family & be thankful for all that we are blessed with. 




Tuesday, November 24, 2015

IVFx6 Update & the Holiday Season...



Once again it’s been too long since I’ve blogged.  I remember a time when I was determined to get 3-5 posts out a week, now I can hardly muster 1 post a month.  I’m not sure what has changed, maybe the fact that I feel as though I never have anything new to write about because we are still stuck in this same horrible storm of infertility that we have been for so many years now.  Sharing my favorite stocking stuffers or a new recipe just doesn’t even seem worth it to me anymore.  I wonder if I will ever be able to make this blog what I had originally intended to over 3 years ago.

On top of my lack of motivation to write, work has been absolutely crazy.  I work for a gas & electric power company and we have had a couple major storms in the last few weeks and on top of that we are down a person in the office and she happens to have the most pressing responsibilities that we can’t let pile up.  I also happen to be her back up for almost everything she does so in her absence, I have been swamped.  We don’t expect her back for several months due to medical reasons so there really is no end in sight either.  Between work, traveling for doctor’s appointments, prepping for the holidays, and everything else life throws at us, I’m ready for a break!

As most of you know we recently started seeing another doctor that we are hoping will finally get us where we want to be.  This is our 3rd doctor & our 4th opinion in 2 years.  I was very happy that our new doctor, Dr. Sherbahn seems to be on the exact same page as we are with what we want for this cycle.  Last week I had a “mock” transfer and hysteroscopy which came back all normal, Joe submitted a sample which was normal, we had all preliminary blood work done & my meds will arrive today.  We are all geared up to start our 3rd and final fresh cycle. 

When I say final, I not only mean that I hope that this is the last fresh cycle that I will ever have to do, but for now, this is the last fresh cycle that I’ll willingly subject my body to.  If this cycle (and any frozen cycles to follow) doesn’t work, then we need to move forward with another option.  Of course this is subject to change, but what I have decided for myself at this time is that I will not let infertility be my entire life, I won’t give it any more time than I have to.  At some point it has to come to an end.  I hope it comes to a happy end where I can carry my own pregnancy with a healthy baby created by both mine & my husband’s genetics.

Things are progressing very quickly as next Monday the 30th is our baseline ultrasound and stims start on Tuesday the 1st.  My first monitoring appointment is the 4th, & retrieval is slated for the week of December 13th.  We decided that we’d like to do the PGS testing since it’s something that we haven’t tried that will rule out a lot for us and give us the peace of mind that we are transferring normal embryos.  The PGS testing will be costing us $5000 out of our own pockets because it is not covered by insurance.  Having just built a house, this will be a bit of a challenge for us, but we will make it work. 

Because we chose to have the testing, we will be doing a FET in January after the cells are tested.  The way that PGS is works is they retrieve the eggs, fertilize them, and then biopsy them and send a tiny sample of cells to a testing facility & freeze the embryos while the cells are tested.  The results take about 5 days & because of this, a frozen transfer is required the following month rather than a fresh transfer.  Because there is a chance that not enough eggs are retrieved or not enough fertilize to be sent for testing, a fresh transfer is a possibility.  I don’t expect that to happen since I am a great responder, but we are prepared for that if it comes down to it.

I have high expectations for this cycle and I really feel as though Dr. Sherbahn’s protocol for us will get us the best results.  I couldn’t believe how quickly they were able to get me into their schedule, the time is just flying and I can’t believe we are already celebrating Thanksgiving this week!  I am excited to decorate my new house for Christmas, go cut down our tree, and enjoy time with friends and family over the holiday season.  It really is the most wonderful time of the year. 

For Thanksgiving we have 3 stops.  It usually makes for a long day, but it’s always well worth it to see our families.  One of my favorite parts about this day is when we finally get home after our whirlwind day we sit down with a couple mimosas and officially kick off the Christmas season by watching Christmas Vacation, Elf, and any other Christmas movie we can stay up to watch.  It really is one of my favorite traditions of ours.  We will cut down our Christmas tree over the weekend too and start decorating.  We have an ugly Christmas sweater party to attend and I’ll be doing some Black Friday shopping as well.

As always, I really appreciate you guys sticking around for the long haul, and boy has it been a loooonnngg haul!  I know that I’ve been practicing terrible blogger etiquette as I’ve been slacking on commenting and reading as often as I used to so I really do appreciate those of you who still like to read, comment, and support us on this journey.  I hope everyone has the happiest of Thanksgivings.  Don’t forget to count your many many blessings.  I know that I am blessed beyond measure to have such an amazing husband, family, friends, dog, home, job, health, support group, and more!  Thank you all again! 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Our Newest Plan...


I would love to go back and try to find how many times I have typed the word “PLAN” on my blog.  How many plans have we had over these last 4 years of TTC?  Probably nearing the hundreds at this point.  Once again, we have a new plan.

We decided to switch doctors for a 3rd time and I am extremely confident (even more so than with my 2nd doctor) that he will help us get pregnant for real this time.  His name is Dr. Sherbahn and he works at the Advanced Fertility Centers of Chicago.  We had to travel over 2 hours in the direction of the city (YUCK) and it took us over 3 hours to get home, but we were very happy with what he had to say.

I went in first for an ultrasound and they said everything looks great as far as my uterus and ovaries are concerned.  I do have 2 small fibroids in my uterus (small tumors) which are not impinging so they’re nothing to worry about.  I have 30 antral follicles (follicles that sit in the ovaries) which is a great number for my age. 

Once the ultrasound was over we sat for a bit then we got to meet the doctor.  He is very serious but has a very dry sense of humor too, his personality is different, but he knows he is good and he has the numbers to prove it.  The national average of live births with IVF is 40, he is at 58.  That number alone was enough to get my attention.  We discussed my previous cycles and he showed us where our current (our first clinic) rates on the SART charts and it’s not very good.  Their live births were only 26, well below the national average.  We determined that I was more than likely overstimulated, which we already knew, and that the lab quality may not be up to par.  Looking at my stimulation sheets from my first cycle he was very concerned that they only monitored me on day 5 and on day 8, & that on day 5 my estradiol was a whopping 2000, he said it should’ve only been about 300 and that I should’ve been monitored daily with a number that high.

With my second clinic we determined that I may have been understimulated in an attempt to keep my follicle numbers down and help the quality, he wants to find a happy medium between my 2 cycles, somewhere along the lines of 15-21 follicles rather than the high number of 34 and the low number of 10.  I was thrilled because this is EXACTLY where I was at.  I made no mention of this to him, and was very happy that he seemed to be on the same page as I am about stimulation.

The other big topic he covered was PGS testing.  He told us that for our age and their success rates it’s not something we would necessarily need, but with 5 failed cycles he completely understands if want testing done and is more than willing to let us do that if we’d like.  There are 2 testing facilities, one called Genesis in Detroit that has a 5 day turnaround so that we would be able to have our retrieval, freeze the embryos, send the cells off for testing, and then have our FET the following month.  Their cost is $4000.  The other facility is called GoodStart Genetics and they just recently got into PGS testing.  They are proven with PDG so I have no qualms about them not yet being proven with PGS, in fact I know a lovely lady who works at this facility so I am very confident in their work.  The plus side to this facility is that they only charge between $1500-$2000 so it’s more affordable, BUT their turnaround time is 6-10 days so we would end up having to wait 2 months to do our FET rather than just 1.  I told Dr. Sherbahn that I have waited over 4 years, I can certainly wait an extra month if that is the route that we decide to take.  

We aren’t 100% sure if we will move forward with the PGS testing but I think we are both leaning more towards having the testing done than not after all that we have been through.  To me this is the end of the road.  There will be no more doctors to seek out or treatments to try after this.  Although I think Dr. Sherbahn will help us get where we want to be. 

The success rates he gave us based on our history are, a 63% chance with 1 PGS tested embryo, a 45% chance with 1 untested embryo, or a 65% chance with 2 untested embryos.  Although the chance of transferring 2 untested is higher, it still has a higher risk of multiples which we are trying to avoid if possible.  Anything is a blessing, don’t get me wrong, we just know the risks associated with twins and don’t want to increase our chances if we don’t have to.  With a PGS tested embryo we would have peace of mind that it is normal and there is no reason it shouldn’t implant unless I have some type of uterine issue that we have yet to discover (which I don’t believe we do), we would also know the gender of our PGS tested embryos. 

I found out this afternoon that we should be starting this cycle as early as tomorrow!  My nurse, Deena told me she would submit a protocol to him for his review and that I would hear back tomorrow about whether or not I need to start BCP.  We should have baseline November 30th or Dec 1st and start stims on Dec 2nd.  Our retrieval would be scheduled for the week of Dec 13th but since we are early starters we would probably go the weekend before that!  I can't believe how quickly this is happening, but I am excited that it is.  

I need to thank you all again for your love and support as we continue to fight this path of infertility.  It has not been easy and we would never be where we are today without the truly amazing support system that we have in our lives.  I hope that you guys can stick it out with me while we venture down this new path & hopefully this final path to our baby!

Friday, November 06, 2015

BFN X 5


For the 5th time now (actually the 7th if you count our 2 IUIs, and many more if you count natural cycles) we are experiencing another failed cycle.  I am more perplexed and more heart broken and I'm desperate for some answers as to why this keeps happening to us when things are "seemingly perfect".  I know that just because things look perfect doesn't mean they are, but we cannot seem to catch a break on this painstaking journey and it's overwhelmingly exhausting and frustrating. 

We have been pursuing parenthood for over 4 years now.  We have seen 2 doctors, consulted with another via phone and we are about to speak to another doctor on Wednesday, if we can't get this accomplished between 4 doctors then I'm throwing in the towel and moving on with something else. I spoke to the nurse at my current clinic at length today via email and she is as perplexed as we are about why this is happening.  What has inevitably become the most frustrating thing is that almost 2 years ago in late December 2013, Joe and I did an IUI and we ended up pregnant,  That means that his sperm fertilized my egg on it's own and it implanted and we achieved (a very brief) pregnancy.  But when we go through all of this IVF crap and have already made embryos transferred, nothing happens!  It's so irritating and seriously raises so many questions about the quality of the embryos that we have had so far.  

Here are my thoughts about it, and remember, I'm not a doctor, but I'm a stressed out, multiple cycle failure, passionate, PMS'ing woman with a deeply rooted PASSION for conquering this disease so... here's my thoughts: I strongly believe that of the 34 eggs we had retrieved, the 7 that fertilized are all of abnormal quality.  I don't think that one of them will implant and I don't have any desire to even transfer our last 2 and put myself through this again feeling the way that I do about them.  It sucks, but it's what I believe.  My 2nd doctor explained to me that typically anything over 20 eggs significantly decreases the quality of the embryos & that is what I think happened.  With my second cycle where only 10 eggs were retrieved I don't think that was enough of a batch as only 5 of them were mature and usable so they really didn't stand a fighting chance to develop which they didn't and we transferred 2 day-3's which failed.   Does this sound like it makes sense to anyone else?

We are planning on seeing Dr. Sherbahn at AFCC next Wednesday and I have several questions for him and I'm hoping that he can provide yet another perspective on our situation.  What I'd really like to see happen if we do another fresh cycle is CCS testing of our embryos (Comprehensive Chromosome Screening), I want to know if he will treat me for the Beta 3 integrin deficiency, and if he is willing to add a low dose of prednisone to the stimming cycle.  Other than that I don't have much more to ask.  I might even see what he thinks about reverting back to IUI because I've gotten farther with that than I have in a year of IVF cycles.  

There has to be an answer.  I need an answer.  If I could get an answer than maybe I could make a better informed decision about what to do next.  Is it even worth it to keep going?  Would it be better to pursue another avenue now rather than waiting and doing yet another fresh cycle?  I don't think anyone truly knows and I don't think any doctor will be able to ever give me a solid answer as to what is causing this for us.  

We still have some fight left in us for us to be able to have our own child by me carrying that pregnancy, at least for now.  I know that I want to exhaust all avenues that we can, but I also refuse to give my life to infertility, I will not do it.  I've already given int 4 years, which is 4 years too many, but I know that I will do all I can for some answers and hopefully a final solution to this issue.  I appreciate everyone's sweet thoughts and suggestions and love and prayers that they have shared with me as I had to announce yet another negative cycle for us.  It means the world to me to have so many people from so many wonderful places near and far rooting for us.  Thank you all so much, your words give me so much strength and determination & so much of my bravery comes from the inspiration that you all give me to keep up the good fight.  FUCK INFERTILITY! 

Monday, November 02, 2015

November...FETx3 Update


You guys, Thanksgiving is seriously only 3 weeks away!  Can you believe it?!  I know I sure can't. I always feel bad for Thanksgiving, it definitely gets overlooked because once Halloween is over the Christmas craze starts and it's kind of sad that people can't really take a few weeks to be thankful for all of the blessings in their lives.  I personally love Thanksgiving, I love the food, I love seeing my family, I love having a couple days off to relax, and I do love to kick off the Christmas season, but not until AFTER all the Thanksgiving festivities have been attended.  

So today I am 4 days post 5 day transfer (4dp5dt) and feeling the effects of the progesterone oil that I have been taking each day.  If you're not familiar with PIO, it's an oil based form of progesterone that is given via intramuscular injection so that means the needles are scary and the shot is a literal pain in the ass because it has to be given in the top, outside quadrant of your butt cheek.  No f'ing joke. These are by far one of the worst parts of IVF.  I make Joe do mine & right now I'm on 2cc's which is over half a syringe full.  The worst part about PIO is that it mimics pregnancy/premenstrual symptoms like sore boobs, cramping, fatigue, vivid dreams, etc. which makes it really hard to not think that something is going on in there!  Now that I've been through this 5 times, I noticed this cycle it's easier for me to accept that all of the symptoms that I've had (all of the above) are just that of PIO.  Other than that I am feeling fine and I'm trying to stay positive & optimistic, even though I am terribly jaded.

  
If things with this cycle don't work out we have another appointment with a new doctor on 11/11, but I have all my fingers and toes crossed that I'll be able to cancel that appointment.  I am prepared with my questions though and I have been continuing my supplements (all safe to take during the cycle) just in case we end up having to do another fresh cycle or maybe even try naturally for a change!  It truly sucks to think that we have almost exhausted all of our frosties (we have 2 left out of the 7 we had originally fertilize) and maybe even all of our options.  I'm really interested in what this new doctor has to say, I hope that it's similar to what I heard from CCRM because we just don't have the 20K that is due up front in the budget plus travel expenses to make that work.  I think that if I could find a doctor that would be willing to do something similar to what my CCRM doctor recommended that we could get this done here in Illinois and be successful.

I don't really have much more to report.  I'm just trying to keep my eye on the prize, but I'm also guarded and trying not to let my heart get too hurt at the same time if things don't work out.  I keep trying to tell myself that there's a good chance this one could work, we have never transferred two 5-day blastocysts yet, and since we are nearing the end of our supply of embryos I feel like one of these 4 that we have left (2 at home/2 frozen) have to be our baby/ies!  If not it will be a devastating blow and will more than likely lead to many more questions than answers, but we will deal with that only if we need to and at this moment I am PUPO for a few more day and planning to enjoy it!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

FETx3 t-minus 1 day...


Wow, I can't believe it, my 3rd FET is tomorrow!  There are a few reasons why I can't believe it, one of them being that October has flown by in the blink of an eye and I'm starting to panic that the holiday's are literally right around the corner!  The other being that I never thought that I would still be writing these posts about trying to get pregnant.  We have been actively TTC for over 4 years now. Of course that doesn't really mean every single month of those 4 years, it was actually a lot of waiting around for cycles and down regulating to the point that we couldn't even try for natural conception if we wanted to, but we have been pursuing parenthood for over 48 months and it is getting exhausting.  
The worst part about IVF and infertility is that you don't have a guaranteed chance of success.  No one can tell you for certain that it will work or it won't.  I know that people have done twice the amount of cycles that I have in order to become pregnant, and I'm not saying I wouldn't, but failed cycle after failed cycle creates an inevitable numbness and skepticism to any chance that you'll ever achieve your dream.  By this point, shots don't scare me, PIO doesn't scare me, I don't care about tiny little details that I might once have because I know that they're insignificant and mean nothing.  I know that every twinge I will feel after transfer is just PIO side effects, I can't be shocked or surprised, I have little fear or insecurity, I have hardly any feeling at all towards this cycle (and others to come) because I don't know anything different.

Have you ever heard that quote by Albert Einstein, "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"... I feel as though I have reached that point, x5.  Yes, we have changed some things about each of our cycles, meds, # of embryos, hell, we even changed clinics and doctors trying to avoid "insanity", but in all reality, an IVF cycle is an IVF cycle, and 5 IVF cycles has become my borderline insanity.

I really hate to sound like a Debbie Downer to anyone new to the world of infertility reading this and being excited for their first round of treatment, or to anyone who thought that I was a beacon of positivity and optimism, normally I am, and I am trying to be (I promise) for this cycle because, and I've said it 100 times over, positive attitude=positive outcome, but I've pretty much proven this theory wrong time and time again as we have traveled on this journey and it's really kind of a shitty realization to have to accept because I have based my life on that theory.  

What I promised to myself with Tuesday's full moon was to release what no longer served me and cleanse my space by removing any negativity and toxicity.  So...going forward from what I just wrote, I will be as enthusiastic and optimistic as I possibly can about this cycle, with every fiber of my being, I will go in with a clear head and a heart full of love for the 2 potential babies that I could be bringing home, permanently.  When you want something so badly, when it's on your mind 24/7, when you dream about it, you fight for it.  You try your damnedest, you make sacrifices, you take risks, you do the impossible for that thing until you have exhausted every possible option and have traveled to the four corners of the earth for that thing.  Tomorrow I will go to my transfer full of positivity and love.  

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Moments of Weakness


By now, you all know that I’m a positive and happy person about 95% of the time.  You know how important that a positive outlook is to me and how, even at my worst times, I try to look for the silver lining or on the bright sides, or whatever idiom that best describes being positive.  But, you also know that I am human too.  That means that I have my bad days, I have moments of irritability and anger, or sadness and weakness.  On top of that, you mix human emotion in with some fertility drugs and you can have a lethal concoction that can certainly result in a roller coaster of emotions, often tipping the scales of sanity. 

Last Friday we were at a wedding where children were invited to attend.  I don’t think I have ever been to an event with more babies, children, and pregnant women.  It was a truly beautiful wedding, but I could not get my mind off of the new mom next to me with her 7-week-old son Emmitt, who I accidentally referred to as a girl, the ready-to-pop mom-to-be showing off her bump in her skin tight dress out on the dance floor with her beautiful daughter dancing alongside her, and the adorable ring-bearer with his little cowboy boots on, shy at first, until from behind, dad says, “ there’s mommy, go up to mommy”, and he get the biggest grin on his face, and runs right to her.  Many many precious moments were being had by others that I was so envious weren’t being had by me as well.  Had I not been hopped up on hormones would I still feel this way?  I’m not sure.  Anymore, these types of situations do not get to me, but this was a moment of weakness, completely warranted in my mind, and I couldn’t let it go.  Here I am a week later still thinking about it, writing about it even…

Normally I have a pretty thick skin and I’m not a super sensitive person, I don’t take things personally and I don’t let too much get to me, I’m not offended easily, and in general, I’m usually the voice of reason.  It’s just who I am, I’m a realist most of the time.  Don’t get me wrong, I have BIG DREAMS too, but I can pull myself back into reality pretty easily.  But we are all due for a good crying jag or a scream into a pillow now and then, maybe even a thrown punch or two…we are ALLOWED to have these moments without having to explain them because we are human and sometimes we need to release all those things that we tend to bottle up inside.  We shouldn't have to apologize or be ashamed of our sensitivity.  

To survive this journey (and so many others in life) you have to stay strong and be brave, you’ll end up taking risks you may never thought you could, you’ll constantly be pulling yourself up by your boot straps because there is so much heartache and disappointment, but you have to keep moving, and you’ll certainly feel as though you’re losing your mind more often than not, but you will only visit Crazytown briefly and then you’ll come back to normalcy.  You will be strong and brave whether you like it or not, & probably more so than you ever have before in your life.

But along with being brave and strong and putting your big girl panties on, you’ll have moments of weakness.  I’m here to say that those moments are totally normal and totally needed too.  You can’t be strong 100% of the time; if you are then you’re certainly not human.  We all need a good cry or a good mental breakdown sometimes, whether we are dealing with infertility or just life in general.  Haven’t you seen this meme?



The point is we all have moments of weakness on our journey, whatever that journey may be.  I think sometimes these moments of vulnerability actually help strengthen us in the end.  I think it's important to share these moments, to show that life isn't always perfect and we all struggle with certain situations.  I know that I am blessed beyond measure, and I know that I am a stronger person today because of the challenges that I have faced in my life.  I just hope that we can all understand and welcome these tougher moments of our journey's because they truly do make us stronger in the end.  

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Fall Faves so Far...

Now that we’ve actually put a little bit of time into the actual season of Fall, (because I’ll be honest, I was pretty much considering August fall) I thought it would be fun to do a little Fall Favorites sesh here on the blog.


I got this sucker for 60% off!  I paid $30 for it from Hollister and I’m in love.  I’ve wanted a fringe jacket forever, and although its faux leather, this will definitely be a staple in my fall wardrobe for as long as possible.  It's still on sale but not as good of a sale... sorry guys!


I ordered these during Ugg’s Labor Day sale and I got them for $99!  I was so pumped.  They’re super cute and I love the little pink and gold embellishments on the back.  I have been a fan of Uggs since Britney Spears was wearing them in 80° weather when they first came out.  My first pair is over 10 years old and I still wear them, but they’re falling apart!  I also have a knit pair and a tall pair in a sandstone color.  I wear them all constantly and they are well worth the money here in Illinois once the cold weather hits!  Bonus, they're still only $99!


My last 2 Rocksbox’s have been amazing.  Both of them had super cute pairs of KS earrings, one had this pair of studs, and the other had these… I ended up buying the studs which came discounted through Rocksbox plus an additional $10 is given by them to spend so I paid $26 for them!  They’re in rotation as my every day earrings and I’m loving them for fall.  And who doesn’t love the classic Elle earrings?  Through my Rocksbox subscription I can get these for $34!! 

Target had these large candles for $8 and they had so many yummy scents, but this one in particular I couldn’t put down, Pumpkin Cheesecake!  I wanted a spoon so I could dig in and eat it, that’s how good it smells. 


Starbucks has their anniversary coffee and accessories out right now and wouldn’t ya know it, all the packaging has a mermaid on it!  If you follow me on Instagram then you know that I pretty much love mermaids.  Our local Sbucks had this super cute mermaid tail coffee cup and I had to have it.  Isn’t it just precious?


My sweet house guest had just gotten these boots for her birthday and I immediately became obsessed.  Up until this point I hadn't jumped on the combat boot bandwagon, but had been wanting to.  These were the ones I had to have!  The color is perfect, they're light weight, and I was able to get $10 off plus free shipping for Columbus Day so I only paid $40!  

I'm so obsessed with my new warmer!  I love it because of the Edison bulb which goes perfectly with my lighting in my kitchen!  It's a mini bulb and it's just so cute!  

What are you guys loving this fall?

Friday, October 02, 2015

Friday Favorites




Do you guys remember when I used to do these posts every week!?  I can’t even imagine making that kind of commitment at this point in time, but I thought it would be fun to do one since I haven’t in so long!

Favorite Moment:
This was a very quiet week and I’m not mad about it.  I was able to go straight home after work every day and enjoy my house, make yummy dinners, binge watch Netflix, and even do a little working out.  I did start Lupron injections (I know, how can daily injections be exciting?) yesterday so we are one step closer to our FET!  Our target transfer date is 10/29!



Favorite Workout:
Speaking of doing a little working out, I’ve been horrible since our last cycle failed.  My eating habits have been really bad and I have had 0 motivation to do any form of physical activity except for walking.  Luckily my Fitbit has been keeping me moving, but it’s definitely not enough.  I started back up with Jillian Michaels Yoga Melt and then added the 7 Minute Workout that Biana had mentioned a few months ago to the routine as well.  Also, you guys need to try this 3 minute workout if you like to whip & nae nae.


Favorite Blog Post:
Again on the topic of working out, I loved this post from Kristen at See You in a Porridge!  I seriously made me feel so much better about how unmotivated I have been lately.  It definitely sounds to me like we all have the struggle more often than not!  Plus, she totally killed it with the GIFs as usual!


 Favorite Recipe:
Along with increasing my physical activity, I am trying to really be better about eating.  My eating habits aren’t terrible but there’s definitely room for improvement.  This week I made ravs (tortellini) and spinach in “alfredo” sauce but I used cauliflower (and my husband had no idea and said it was awesome) as the base of my sauce.  I’ve made this many times before but this time it turned out the best.  It’s a great way to add vegetables to your meals without people really knowing.  I like this recipe from Detoxinista but I add about a cup or so of cheese to mine!


Favorite Purchase:
Oh the purchasing!  I’ve got about 5 shipping notification emails in my inbox right now which means that my spending is out of control once again.  I’m supposed to be working on paying down my debt and instead I get sucked in to Hollister’s One Day Only 50% off denim and free shipping on over $50 so of course you’re going to buy 2 pairs sale!  I ended up with a new pair of jeggings and a new pair of high rise flares!  I’m so excited that flares are coming back in full force this fall.  I’ve been wearing the shit out of mine.  Here are a few of my favorite looks so far: 

  
Favorite thing I’m looking forward to:
This crazy weekend!  Not only is it the annual family camp out on Joe’s mom’s side, Joe’s sister and her husband are also renewing their vows on Saturday in an outdoor ceremony at a local horse ranch.  Tonight Frankie and I will make the hour drive to family camp and stay with my bestie & SIL, Jodie and her family for the night.  We will head back tomorrow morning to get ready for the vow renewal.  It’s going to be a chilly night but it will be so fun!
 
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