Thursday, January 29, 2009

Just relax

Argh! I had a conversation with a good friend of mine yesterday. She is a great person but for the last few months I haven't spoken with her much because she tends to be one of those "just watch, you will stop all these treatments, maybe adopt and then you will get pregnant. You will see" people. And, as a result, I really just don't want to talk with her much. I'm not obsessed. This isn't really killing me. I am just doing all that I can do to get pregnant and it didn't work the natural way...what is wrong with that? I've even stopped talking about it with people hoping that they will just talk about OTHER THINGS. But, no. I felt bad not calling her for the last few months so I finally returned a call yesterday and again I got this statement. We were talking about CGH and what that means for me. She is older and never experienced infertility but is very curious and wants to learn what I am going through. Well, she said, so you have a couple of months in between having your eggs taken and when you transfer them back? I said yes. Again, she said, "oh...great! then you will get pregnant then! You will see! When you are finally off of all of these medicines and your body can do its regular thing, it will happen. I am so excited for you!!" Okay. is that not annoying? I had to raise my voice again and tell her that yes, you do hear about those people who take a break from IF and end up pregnant or those who finally adopt and then have a child of their own and you hear about them alot. But that is because their story is interesting so everyone wants to hear about it but once again...they are the exception. The rest of us, when we stop doing this IF thing end up old and without children!

I am writing this post because this happens all of the time to all of us and there are several people who read my blog who are just friends or are yoga students of mine and I would like everyone to understand that this is not what you say to someone who is experiencing infertility. It doesn't help. I am not mad at you or even upset but if you say this once or twice to me, it is fine, but if you say it every time I talk to you, I'm not going to want to talk to you anymore. It is hard repeatedly explaining the same thing to you every time.

Speaking of that, I have another friend who is terribly sweet but also says something along those lines...even worse. She said "you know, once you stop all this IVF you will get pregnant, this is all just a waste of money. you should give up". NOT HELPFUL. I have spent years on the infertility boards and, to be honest, have seen my share of women getting their BFP's through IVF or other fertility methods. I have seen lots of BFN's. But I've only seen a blessed few BFPs occur during a break. I can name 3. Um, out of thousands of women. Those 3 are very lucky and I am so so happy for them. But those odds aren't good enough. If I can't get pregnant when 4 live embryos are put inside my uterus, what makes you think it will happen when the sperm may not even reach the egg? Argh.

I apologize for the rant. For those friends of mine who read this and realize that they've said these things to me, please don't get upset. I just needed to vent. And, now I have to go because one of my dogs just walked in here and farted. Bad. I need air....

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sometimes I just don't care

Did you guys ever read Bridget Jones' Diary? How she constantly refers to her married friends as "smug marrieds"? Well, I feel that way sometimes about my fertile friends lately. I'm not usually upset with them, I don't usually get upset when I hear my friends are pregnant- for some reason, I understand that their pregnancy has nothing to do with me (at least I've reached this point after a lot of time and consideration). But, lately, my friends who are pregnant and/or have young children are just my "smug fertiles". Does that sound bitchy? I mean, they are wonderful people, but, as many of my fellow IF bloggers know, you lose friends over time with the 'real life friends'. So, when I talk to them, I get tired discussing their children, or find myself refusing invitations to go out with them and their babies or shop for baby clothes with them at the mall. Worst yet are those friends who have completely lost all sense of self at all. I mean, I have a friend who refuses to go out to dinner alone with her husband (be it her birthday or New Years) because these times MUST be spent with her children (she has 2 11 year old girls and 2 3 year old boys). She cannot have a conversation that doesn't revolve around her children at all. Its strange and sad to me. After one long phone conversation with this friend, I got off the phone and said to DH, "If this is what it is to become a parent, maybe I don't want to really be one?". That starts my whole philosophical post today...

So, I love my husband. I wouldn't give up finding him for all the children I could carry (eeek, visions of that Duggar family in my head). I still badly want to have children but probably half of that want is to see him be the incredible father I know he can be...the father I've imagined him being. I know he had a wonderful father himself who he lost at a young age, and I know he has wanted to be a father himself for as long as he can remember. So, I treasure my husband more than any other relationship in my life. I know when we have children (be they adopted or genetically ours or not), I will still cherish him. I would never want to be that woman who has kids and forgets she has a husband (you know these people, right?). So, at times I feel like I just don't want this enough...which sounds crazy after so many IVF's right? But sometimes I just wonder if maybe I am putting too much stress on this aspect of my life. In reality, I know that DH and I will be happy together regardless of what happens. But, I wonder if it is just a deep animal part of myself that so badly wants to have children to raise and have a family.

I'm probably not making sense, huh? Oh well, I know some of you understand what I am trying to say. I had my D & C on December 12 which was a Friday, on the following Monday, DH had to go on a business trip out of state. While he was away, he got really really sick. So sick that he had to be rushed to the emergency room. I tried to figure out what to do...should I drive the 5 hours to meet him there and find someone to watch the dogs, should I just stay here and panic? In the midst of his morphine induced haze, he told me to stay here and he would be fine. I cried my eyes out. I couldn't imagine that God would be this harsh...I was worried that I would lose my husband right after losing our baby. And I prayed that he'd be okay...but part of me felt that I was being shown a lesson. That in my heart, I knew I'd be okay after the D&C because I had DH and we'd be okay together. But when he got sick, I just broke down again. I think this event taught me a lesson and maybe I will not stress the baby thing so much. I'll still go forward and do IVF and do all that we can, but I won't think my life depends on it.

But, one last thing, just note that I feel like this every time I am on a break from the medicines, lol. I feel like I can do anything and that this process is not overwhelming and that we don't need children to be happy. THEN I start the meds, and it all goes out the at least I know the craziness is hormone-induced, right? Oh and DH is just fine, it was just some really really bad virus or food poisoning or something...

Friday, January 23, 2009

First shipment in...

So, the Saizen arrived yesterday. I am somewhat thankful for that since I've heard that it is really hard to get. I guess the Federal government does not approve of its use for infertility. It is supposed to be prescribed only for those with HGH deficiencies. So, our usual pharmacy wasn't allowed to dispense it! I had to call my nurse who called another random mail order pharmacy and they were willing to do it. The nurse said this always happens...jeez, doesn't that make you nervous? But, I've heard all good things about it and unlike all the other stuff I am on, this one decreases fat and increases muscle (ah beautiful right?). Pair that baby up with my steroids and I'm going to be bulking up in muscle AND fat:-)

But, something occurred to me yesterday. Now that I am getting close to cycling again I was online and thought I'd look up fibroids. Apparently during my one day workup in August, CCRM found a small fibroid on the back of my uterus. My RE checked it out during the hysteroscopy and declared that it wasn't in the way and wouldn't affect implantation so we should just go ahead and forget removal. Apparently removing them can sometimes cause more problems than it solves. However, for the last few months I've had lower back pain and I thought I'd research if the fibroid could be causing it. Well, according to Dr. Google, Yes, it can be causing it. Then I read further about fibroids. They can cause lower back pain and disturbances in the bowel. They also grow with estrogen so tend to grow quickly with pregnancy and, shocker, they can cause you to not be able to carry a baby past a certain month. I immediately called CCRM and talked to my nurse. She said that my RE will do the hysteroscopy during ER since I am not transferring this time and if they see that it has grown or is likely to interfere, that they will schedule surgery to remove it a few days after ER. This sounds like a solution, right? But then, recall that the surgery center is NOT COVERED by insurance. I'm not sure that if I do need surgery they will allow me to do it at home. And, maybe I don't want my GYN doing it and would feel safer if Dr. G did it. Can we afford it? I feel like calling up the financial department to get an estimate just so I don't freak out...and I probably don't even need the surgery. But, part of me worries that my "normal, female" fetus couldnt' get decent blood flow because of my stupid fibroid! eeek. Oh well, I think I am just stressed. Stressed and on a budget.

Anyway, things are moving ahead I guess. If anyone has experience with fibroids, please comment and give me some info. I'm going to assume that my RE knows what he is doing and if he doesn't think it will interfere with pregnancy, then we will leave it. If it has grown a lot then we will price out surgery and see what we can do. By then, we will hopefully have a bunch of embies growing in the lab. In the meantime, maybe my back just hurts because of all this snow shovelling I am doing?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

scary yet educational story

I know I've told a bunch of you about how my old RE didn't really help us much. I don't like to pick on them too much because I really love his office and I know that he really does help a lot of people. Not to mention, they have been generous with me regarding discounted cycles, etc. However, some of you have voiced surprise at how 'all over the place' he is or at the fact that he put me on strange medicine protocols and wouldn't listen to my pleas for a long lupron cycle or, even better, how he absolutely refuses to grade embryos. But, here is a short example.

I have a friend here who is in treatment with my old RE. She has had a couple of failed cycles with no explanation from him (keep in mind, these are out of pocket cycles). So, after her last failure she insisted on the WTF? conversation with him about what really went wrong and what they can change to have a better outcome. Well, she and I talked and she asked about some of the steroids I had been put on at CCRM and my protocols and how I had a much better outcome (sort-of). She then researched the use of one of the steroids and went in to talk to my old RE about it. She brought it up and he said he'd absolutely be willing to try it, asked her what dosage she thought he should give her, wrote a prescription and handed it to her and told her to start it immediately. Even though she doesn't know exactly when she will be starting a cycle.

He did something similar to me. He doesn't research the use of the medicine so much, just throws a bunch of stuff at you and you do it. You don't take it in the right way, at the right time, and you don't succeed often. Of course, I get ticked at this from her standpoint, but I did this kind of thing without even asking. I took 2 weeks of prednisone the month before my IVF cycle, once I even did IVIG even though my immune testing came back normal because he said he's seen success with it. I think this is just one of those instances where you yourself become the RE, you do the research, and you get them to put you on the protocol you think will be best. Isn't this kind of scary?

Anyway, just a story to say that sometimes you really do need to be your own advocate and sometimes a second opinion is definitely in order. (oh, and sometimes it takes some of us about 5 cycles to figure this out. ouch)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Here we go again

So, I have my calendar. Eeeek. We are adding saizen for egg quality so after I write this post, I'm going to scour the internet for information about it. I think I saw something on IVFconnections about it the other day. But, it is also another shot. So, this cycle I will be happily injecting into my poor belly 4 shots a day! wow.

So, here is what I do this time. I started antibiotics today. Then, in about 18 days (on CD20), I go to my local RE for a blood test to see if my progesterone levels are good. If so, I start lupron. Then wait to get AF. As soon as I get AF, two days later I go into my local RE again for an ultrasound and bloodwork. If all is good, I start stims in the next day or two. I will be starting with 1 menopur AM, and in the evening I do the saizen shot, 150 gonal-f, and my .5 lupron. I have a few days of that, one more trip to the local RE and then I am off to CO. They are estimating retrieval for February 24th, though I personally think it will be later. Last time we were almost a week late, but I also know each cycle is different, so who knows? Then we go for retrieval, take a day to recover and then come home. The embryos we make will be grown in the lab to blastocyst stage and then a cell will be taken and they will be vitrified (frozen, really, just in a more technologically-advanced way) and we will wait 6-8 (probably 8, from what I hear lately) weeks to find out how many normal embryos we have.

So, we are on our way. I had a minor freak out yesterday because it seems like all of a sudden there is so much to do. I was just coasting along, starting to enjoy being normal, doing yoga again, eating healthy, running sometimes, and trying to forget all this stuff...though we all know that really it was in the back of my mind the entire time and I was just PRETENDING to be normal...but once my conversation with CCRM yesterday came up, I was off running with a list of things to do. For one, I have to have another hyseteroscopy so was going to schedule that but now have decided to let CCRM do it during ER, easy fix. I needed to get recent bloodwork sent to CCRM and we need to arrange to have blood taken from Brett and frozen and shipped to CCRM for CDC testing again. In the meantime, we took a loan from our Citibank card for 3.99 percent for $20K, so that we can fund this cycle. After this, anything we do absolutely has to be covered 100% by insurance. We also cashed out one of our small investment accounts (we don't have much left at all) and I am going to use the rest of my little savings for one last chance. Isn't this tiring? Anyway, here we go. Lets hope things go well, huh?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Feeling old.

This past weekend Brett and I drove to New Paltz, NY for a family party. For me, it was intense because I received my undergraduate degree in English Literature from SUNY New Paltz and haven't returned since. That was over 12 years ago! So, when we got to town, we decided to go to lunch at one of the places I used to "hang out" for Monday night football and cheap beer and free food, P&G's (or "pigs" as we used to call it...). Well, P&G's looked the same...but the rest of town has just grown. The first thing you see when you hit downtown now is Starbucks. It is HUGE. The town itself has changed a lot and looks slightly more expensive than it used to, but, thankfully, there are still at least three storefronts on Main Street that are names something that references a Grateful Dead song. Don't ask me how I know that - to put it lightly - I used to be a fan. So, of course, I got nostalgic and took Brett down memory lane. We drove down my old street, I showed him the restaurant I used to work at and I drove him down Huguenot Street to see the 17th century stone houses and cemeteries that make up New Paltz's historic section.

But, that is not all that makes me feel old. This June I turn 35! As most of you know, this is considered the "fertility cliff" but, ironically, I probably shouldn't worry, because I'm not so sure I've made it high enough up the fertility mountain to actually fall off a cliff. Yet still, the very idea of 35 makes me sick to my stomach. We were supposed to have one child and one on the way by now! I know this isn't useful thinking. This will get me nowhere, right? But still I feel fear at the very idea of it. That is probably why I am pushing to do the first part of the CGH cycle ASAP. I want to know if my eggs are bad. My old RE told me last year that my eggs are great but my uterus must not be working and, if I ever wanted to be pregnant, I needed a gestational carrier. Well, as we all know, he was WRONG. So, as Dr. G says, it must be my eggs. The irony is that when we first went to my old RE it was just a few months before my 33nd birthday and they actually suggested that I should consider being an EGG DONOR. HA! Wouldn't that have sucked for some poor woman who shelled out thousands of dollars to get younger eggs...? Anyway, I'm rambling, but you get the idea...feeling old.

Then, just to make this worse and maybe use this blog as therapy...I feel old just because I feel so boring. I stopped working in the fall when I was pregnant because I was teaching yoga at the time and I was put on bed rest because of the blood clot. When I miscarried, I decided not to go back to work because I just didn't want to revolve around infertility ALL THE TIME (I worked mostly at the healing arts center run by my old fertility clinic). I was getting overwhelmed with being surrounded by infertility and just wanted a few months to pretend to be normal. But it has given me time to reflect and I realize that my whole life for the last 2 years has been about trying to get pregnant. It is miserable and makes me boring as hell. Brett disagrees and says he still thinks I have some fun in me...but I don't see it. I just hope that I will get some of my personality back soon....

In the meantime, I just have to move forward and get this part of the CGH cycle done so that I can relax for a few months, try to be healthy again, spend time with my family and husband, spoil my dogs and forget that I am TTC. Though, from a comment from another CGH person at CCRM the other day, I realize I'll probably feel anxious during the wait for CGH results because I'll feel like I'm not doing anything and after all of these months of cycling, I'll be feeling like I need to do something to move forward. That sounds like me. Oh well...

Friday, January 9, 2009

Mostly wordless post...

hehehe...she is such a ham.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Talk

I had an follow up appointment with my ob/gyn yesterday. I had no idea what I was going in for...but found out it was simply to get 5 minutes to talk to the doctor about what "female, normal" means...or more specifically "46, xx", and to find out if I've stopped bleeding. That was it. And, I waited over a half an hour for that. Then I found out that they still hadn't faxed the results to CCRM, even though they promised to do so on Friday and then again on Monday and I had spent all day yesterday with my cell phone attached to my hand waiting for CCRM to call to discuss. I was annoyed. Anyway, even though he didn't receive the faxed results, Dr. G called around 4 pm.

The plan is set. I will wait until I get my period, which should come in a week or two. Then at CD 20 I start lupron and start stimming after I start my next period. He said it is fine to do now since we will definitely do CGH or microarray so that my uterus has time to recover. He hinted that I could take more time in between cycles, but to be honest, I just want to get it over with. I'd like to have the medicine/stimming and egg retrieval over so that I can have those few months while I am waiting for the results to relax and be "normal" without constantly worrying about the state of my eggs. Maybe I'll go crazy and allow myself to ingest some caffeine.

I asked him about whether or not my Hashimoto's could have caused a problem with the pregnancy and he said no b/c my thyroid levels were under such great control. I also had to ask him what he thought of the "female, normal" thing- b/c my ob/gyn said that there is almost no chance that the lab results were from my own tissue- and he explained that it could be the fetus but it definitely could have been my cells that responded and thus were tested. He called it an inconclusive result and said we could go right ahead with another plain old IVF cycle - or we could try some genetic testing. I am going for the testing. I just don't want to go through this again and will do whatever is in my power to try to prevent another m/c in the future. Oh -and even better- they are going to thaw my 2 frozen embryos and take a cell and then re-freeze so that they can send those in with the batch for testing. He said there is some risk that the thawing could cause them to fail....but, I guess, the thing is that if they are abnormal I don't want to put them in and if they were to fail to thaw properly then I wouldn't put them in anyway. I'd rather have strong embryos to transfer. So, we are going to go ahead with this, so far, we have 2 to test.

So, it sounds crazy, but I am really excited to get this started. I hate just sitting and getting older and worrying about my fertility. I really want to know what is going on and what I can do to move forward. So, I still have at least 4 weeks of semi -normal (no shots). I've had some wine over the holidays but am stopping entirely when I get my period so that the month prior to IVF is entirely alcohol free (and I am already caffeine -free). In case some of you are wondering, I read an article a few months ago that said that even one alcoholic beverage the month before IVF can decrease your chances of success by a rather large percentage. However, I've been searching and searching for the article and I just can't find it. But, I'm being cautious.

I'm wondering if I am crazy to be rushing into this again. I seem to respond well right now and as long as my ovaries are well-rested, I should be fine, right? Emotionally, I can handle it...I mean, I still won't be transferring until sometime in May it is not like I am insisting on being pregnant immediately. The last time I had to have a D&C (when they couldn't find the fetus from my ectopic), I had to wait for the first 2 periods and then I did a flare cycle. So, this is kind of the same thing -2 cycles until I start stimming. It just seems sooner I guess b/c it is a long lupron protocol so I start shots sooner.

Anyway, add me to the list of CCRM-ers who are doing CGH or microarray! I think there are a bunch of us on here blogging now (at least 3 come to mind immediately). For the non-IFers who read my blog - sorry about the technical stuff - if you have questions email me or comment. I've been so bogged down in this terminology for the last 2 years I don't even know when I am speaking in tongues anymore!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Not a real update

I know you are all waiting on pins and needles to hear my update from Dr. G...(kidding)...but they were out of the office on Friday and then yesterday I found out that my genetic report was faxed to someone else so the ob/gyn had to re-fax it to the correct number and now today I am expecting a call from Dr. G. Though, he did answer my I'll update later/tomorrow.

In the meantime...did anyone else take DHEA? or try to take DHEA? I had to tell Dr. G that I just couldn't do it anymore. I've heard from hundreds of women who took this with great results and had no symptoms at all. I, on the other hand, had every one in the book, plus a few not listed. I decided to stop it on my own and then told my RE, because I considered just lowering the dose to 1/3 of what I was taking and he said no way, just get off it entirely. So, if you do start taking it, here are some of my side effects - the first week I noticed that I couldn't sleep barely at all. Hard falling asleep and hard staying asleep. I then started getting awful headaches (way worse than those famous lupron headaches!). I figured I could handle this until the side effects stopped affecting me. Then I noticed that although I am exercising and eating healthy, I gained 10 lbs in one week! Okay, still willing to stick with it for the good of quality eggs! However, I started noticing my hair falling out more and more (no, not in clumps, but just lots of hair coming out), and then, last, I started getting heart palpitations. Within one day of going off of it, I had no headache. Started sleeping better the next night...and am so much lighter and less depressed. So, if someone recommends this for you, think about it...and pay attention to how your body reacts! I mean, it is over-the-counter health food store stuff, but it seems to have some serious effects! Oh, and in 3 days, I've lost 5 lbs. It must have been water weight?

More later...

Friday, January 2, 2009

Argh. Normal? WTF?

Okay, so we got the results back on the chromosomal analysis of the fetus and it came back "female, normal". Argh. So either we had a female who had no (that they could detect on this test...)abnormal chromosomes or they tested a blood clot of mine and (as I suspected...) I am normal. So, completely inconclusive. So so frustrating.

Now, I had a major freakout about something like this happening a few weeks ago...but it went something like getting a test result that said "male, normal" because then we would KNOW it wasn't my tissue and we actually had a normal fetus. The doctor warned me that if it came back "female, normal", we wouldn't actually know anything at all b/c there is a good likelihood that it was my tissue being tested by mistake. However, a fellow IFer has had 2 prior miscarriages from her 2 prior IVF's and they both came back normal...then she did PGD (a form of genetic testing prior to transfer) and she is now past her first trimester with a singleton. I've also read an article that said that if it comes back "normal" it doesn't really mean that it was "normal" - just that the test that they use to test fetuses counts chromosomes, so it was normal in that it had the right number of chromosomes, but not that they were arranged properly or working properly. So, still no answers.

I know some people think I am in a decent position - I get a lot of eggs, they fertilize great, and we get a good number of very nice embryos. I've now gotten pregnant 3 times (1 natural chemical, 1 ectopic, 1 m/c at 8.5 weeks) so we know I can get pregnant. No doctor has found a single thing really wrong with me in the fertility department (well, barring the hashimoto's thyroidosis), so I should be happy. However, I am really of the opinion that I wish they could tell me it is definitely my eggs or something- I wish they could have told me this months (years?) ago so I can move on to a donor cycle. I have been considering doing a donor cycle even though they don't actually say it is my eggs. I just don't care about genetics. At all. Its just I hesitate to do it b/c my eggs seem fine. I think the plan is that we will do this CGH cycle. If it is a BFN or we get no normals then we know it is something with eggs, we will start researching embryo adoption. There will be no rush anymore because age then isn't really a factor. Then we can maybe one day move forward.

So, the doctor here is forwarding the test results to CCRM and I am expecting to talk to them sometime today. I'll update if it is anything interesting...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Hello 2009!

Warning- I just wrote this and re-read it and it jumps all over the place, but I think that is what happens when you get used to blogging and then don't post for 2 weeks and everything just gets said in one big, I just left it. Welcome, 2009.

I had hoped that this year would be different from the last two New Years in that we'd be looking forward to our baby in the upcoming year, but, we were relegated back down to the "this year will be it!" stage again. Desperately trying to hold on to hope for the new year. My hope has been slipping a little bit but Brett has been good at keeping me above water. So, I am approaching 2009 with hope dammit!

We will go ahead with a CGH cycle, if that is what Dr. G says is our best bet. We had hoped to have insurance cover everything, and the new insurance said it would, but then we found out that it covers everything BUT the CCRM lab and surgery center don't participate in our insurance, so the only thing being covered are ultrasounds and physician fees - which beyond sucks. CCRM has the paperwork and will get me a breakdown on what is covered, but what crap, right? So, though we went out of our way to find insurance that would cover IVF, it is not covered at the particular facility we chose, even though our doctor is an in-network provider. However, we have one more in us, or at least our credit cards do...After that, we will have to regroup.

On an up note, Dr. G does rock. He sent us a great email on Christmas eve, telling us that he knows how hard this year has been for us and what a terrible thing happened, but we should still be optimistic for the new year. It was very very kind of him and actually did give me some optimism (after a strict talking to from Brett, when I chose to mentally dissect the email and come up with bad things that could be read into it).

So, 2009 will be better. We will learn something from this painful event and we will move forward to learn more and hopefully, by this time next year, I will be very very pregnant and very very content. Many of you who read my blog are fellow IF people, experiencing many of the same painful things that I've been through over the last few years. Many of you are now finally pregnant and are entering the new year with great excitement and optimism. For the others, like me, trying to start 2009 hopeful again, we probably should be just as excited and optimistic as the pregnant women...we have great, strong families and husbands and partners, and have each other to lean on, encourage, and cry with. We are really doing alright. And, this will be our year.