here we go

off to the clinic.

embryos three and four better be the ones….cause my butt is already protruding with nasty oil welts. Yes, I am permanently attached this go around to the heating pad. It is quite comical. I hate progesterone! :)

I am anxious to hear how the thaw went, and how many baby blasts are left.

Wish us luck!!

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bursting…

with excitement!

I am not nervous this go around. Just anxious and excited. I guess that is because I know what to expect. And if we didn’t have any hope, we wouldn’t be going forward.

So I am just excited. What will be will be. We will take it as it comes. Hoping two little embryos (blasts) survive the thaw and implant nicely!!!!!!

In other news, we have decided to not pursue the sibling group of five. I cannot disclose all of the reasons at this point, but soon!! :)

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round two, good to go

lining: 10.5

estrodial bumped to .4 ml.

starting PIO shots and antibiotic today.

February 6th is a go! Blastocysts thawed in the morning…transfered in the afternoon. Will thaw till we have two viable.

Everything looks great!!!

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a date

February 6th

*crossed fingers and toes.

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a second chance

Tomorrow it begins!

Estrogen. Dexamethosone. Progesterone. Shots and pills.

Thawed embryos. Bed rest. Blood draws. And lots of prayers.

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

And then…maybe a baby.

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how many did you say?

So…there is a group of five children that need a home. Yes, they are legally free for adoption. Yes, that would make our total kid count 12. Yes, we will still pursue having a baby. (Hello, frozen embryos!) And…Yes, we are completely crazy for considering it! *insert blog title for confirmation*

The funny thing is, I am totally at peace with whatever we decide. It is kind of like I have been preparing for this my whole life…very difficult to explain. It is not the placement we envisioned we would take at this stage of our lives. There are two teenage boys involved. I have nothing against teens. I love them. And they could turn out to be the best thing we have ever done. I have no doubt of that. It is just that I am not sure I am totally ready to make the jump in parenting. And I am not saying we are going to do it. But we are on the placement team’s short list and I am anxious to hear if we get to meet them.

The short of it–there is always room for one more (or two, or ten) around here. Period! :)

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no news is…

not good news in the fertility world. :(

We did get pregnant. The transfer worked. We saw a heartbeat at seven weeks. We saw a another heartbeat, and growing baby, at 8.5 weeks. We went in at 10 weeks for a final ultrasound before we were to be sent off to the regular OB. No heartbeat. The baby had died a few days before. d&c performed the next day. That was three weeks ago.

We started with two sacs. One stopped progressing and was passed around eight weeks. It did not harm the other baby so we are still stumped as to the cause of this miscarriage. Everything looked great. We were measuring on target. Strong heartbeat. Religious about my meds and hormones. In fact, the doctor’s face dropped at the ultrasound…completely perplexed. He had brought us into the big room with the nice monitor so he could play around a bit and enjoy our last visit. Needless to say, he was just as shocked as we were. Doctor Fisch suggested a d&c so that we could test the fetus for abnormalities. I went with his recommendation, and am glad I did. I have always passed pregnancies naturally, but this time was different, and I have no regrets about taking care of it immediately.

We will get the results of the fetal testing at our consult next week. We’ll see where we go from here. If the tests come back normal, we’re not sure what changes will be made, but we’ll at least know if that was the cause. For now, I take great comfort in knowing we actually had a growing baby in a sac in the right spot with all its parts. That is something that we haven’t had before. The loss stings more because of this, for sure. But we are hopeful that we are one step closer to having a baby.

Our hope and prayer now is that our frozen embryos are chromosomally normal and viable. That at least one of the four of them survives the thaw and makes it to term. We’ll probably cycle in December or January. But for now we are in limbo until my own female cycle decides it wants to join the party.

I’m not sure how many more losses I can take this year. It’s a GOOD thing 2o12 is drawing to a close! :)

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the final step…egg transfer

August 31st 2012….the day we had two little embryos implanted!

Unlike egg retrieval, this procedure is relatively short and painless. Of course, I do use the word relative because I did have an ice cold speculum (yes, they ice it first) inserted so that a catheter could be inserted up into my uterus. That is how the doctor guides the embryos into their home. There is no sedation, although I was given a Valuum about 30 minutes before the procedure. I did not feel any effects from it, but then again, maybe it would have been more painful if I hadn’t had anything. I don’t care to find out. :)

Adam was able to be in the room for this particular procedure. And we were able to view what was going on inside on the ultrasound machine. Holding Adam’s hand was helpful since I am a pansy, and I was scared! I, the patient, am on a table just like for a routine pelvic exam. The doctor performs the actual procedure, which is quite amazing. It takes skill and finesse, of the highest level, to guide the little guys up inside and burrow them in a really good spot without damaging the little guys or getting them stuck somewhere. Go Dr. Fisch!

After the doctor had me prepped and ready, he opened the door to the embryology lab, which is so cool, and the embryologist brought the tube forward that has our potential babies inside. He, the embryologist, verifies that I am who I am and that my name is on the tube. (kind of creepy thinking there have been monumental mix-ups in the past)

The doctor then guides each embryo up the tiny catheter line. My second embryo got stuck in the tube, which is common. So the embryologist took the tube back in the lab to verify and reload it. Dr. Fisch said it was a “sticky one,” which could be good. :) The second attempt was successful, and both embryos were buried inside of the lining. We also ended up with four more viable embryos that we chose to freeze (five and six day blasts).

The whole procedure took about 20 minutes. Quick and easy compared to egg retrieval. The coolest part of the procedure was the end when Dr. Fisch drew a little heart around the embryos on the ultrasound. So sweet. He also came to the side of my bed, rubbed my belly, and said he was putting the rest in the hands of the man upstairs. Love that! Oh, and he also wears a charm around his neck of Kokopelli (fertility deity), which he rubbed for me. And lastly, he hugged both of us. I could not have asked for better care on all accounts. No matter the outcome, we know we were in the right place at the right time with the right people caring for us. No regrets!!!!

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OHSS

OHSS is short for Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome. It is a complication that can arise when egg production is being stimulated. And yes, I got it. Doctor Fisch told me I was at risk for it with the amount of eggs I was producing coupled with how long they had me on the stim meds. But there isn’t much we could do about it except to stay hydradted. So we waited, and about two days after egg retrieval, when I should have been nearly recovered, it hit me.

I’m not sure exactly how it works, but the extremely high levels of estrogen made my body retain fluid. The fluid swells typically in the abdominal region. I felt like I had a watermelon in my stomach. It is painful to move, to sit, to walk. The only thing that made it slightly better was lying down. There is also stinging pee that accompanies this syndrome because of the extreme amounts of dehydration the body is experiencing. Not  pleasant.

On rare occasion, the fluid also fills the chest cavity and the docs have to go in and drain the fluid out. I never had any problem breathing so my case never breached into severe mode. All I could do to combat it was drink as much gatorade and water as possible and lie still. It was awful! :)

By the third day of this complication, my stomach finally felt like it had a cantaloupe instead of a watermelon in it. This was also the day of embryo transfer so I was grateful to be feeling slightly better. Doc said the worst of it should be over, and it was. By the time I had done my “mandatory 24 hour bedrest” after the embryo transfer procedure, I was almost back to normal.

Doctor Fisch also said that if I got pregnant, the OHSS would likely come back. Guess what???

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egg retrieval and such

Egg retrieval was on Sunday, 8/26/2012.

Egg retrieval means: a procedure where all of the eggs the doctors have been growing and stimulating in my body over the past month are harvested. I had many mature follicles with 23 eggs ready to burst out of me by the time retrieval day came. Some women only have one or two follicles and only one or two or three eggs. I was supposed to retrieve on Friday or Saturday, but because I had so many eggs, most of them were not stimulated quite enough so the doctor had to keep “cooking” me a little longer. Translation: more stimulation meds, more trips to the pharmacy, more money, and more pokes in my belly!

There is a lot of bloating and cramping throughout the week of stimulation medication. It progressively gets worse as the ovaries are pumped full of estrogen and the follicles grow in size. By Sunday morning, I could barely stand upright; the pain in my right ovary (which is where the majority of eggs were) was so great. It was greater than any pain of any impending miscarriage I had felt. I had to keep reminding myself that this was a good thing! Counter-intuitive, if you ask me. I felt like both ovaries would burst open at anytime. The retrieval came not a moment too soon.

Logic would suggest that the more eggs you produce the more embryos you end up with. This is not the case. Most women who produce a lot of eggs have issues with egg quality. So even though a lot of eggs are retrieved, very few embryos survive the incubation and fertilization process. But, as my sweet doctor always says, it only take one Good Egg to make a baby.

Of the 23 eggs they retrieved on Sunday, 17 had fertilized by Monday morning. By Wednesday, we had only 10 left. And by yesterday, Friday, there was a small handful of precious “good embryos” in tact.

Dr. Fisch transferred the best two yesterday morning, and froze one that was ready to freeze. There were a few more embryos still growing so he hopes for a total of two or three frozen little embryos by this Tuesday. (I will detail the transfer procedure in a later post.)

The Procedure

Yes, they put you to sleep for the procedure because it is quite painful. You are strapped to a bed (no joke) with your legs in the air. It’s just like lying down for a pelvic exam except the stirrups are for your legs, not your feet. Black leather straps are tied around your legs and the stirrups to keep the legs in place as you conk out.

After making a few jokes with the nurses about feeling like I was in some medieval torture chamber–jokes they have heard a hundred times before–the anesthesiologist put an oxygen mask on me and pumped me full of the good stuff. Before I knew it I was dreaming of carpools and soccer practice and all things back-to-school related.

The doctors guide a tube with a tiny needle up through the vaginal canal and past the uterus. It lands right next to the ovary. The needle then makes a tiny hole in the ovary and sucks the eggs out. Amazing, huh?

I woke up a little while later…Adam safely back by my side, in the recovery bay. He had his own contribution to attend to during my procedure. Can’t make this baby without him!

Sidebar: There’s a room, in the clinic, where the men leave their semen sample. Adam took pictures of the room for me because I was so intrigued. I mean, I’m in a sterile operating room with a needle stuck up inside of me sucking out my eggs, and he’s across the hall collecting a semen sample. Why do the men ALWAYS get the better end of this deal???

Apparently, the guy in line before Adam took a really long time. The nurses kept looking at each other saying, “He’s still in there?” as they looked at Adam with a “not sure what to tell you” kind of look. He said they all just laughed! The guy took so long that Adam barely got back to our recovery bay in time to see me wheeled in. The magazines must have been super interesting. :)

My procedure was scheduled for 9:30, and we were home by 1:00. I had been prepared by a few different friends to expect pain, and take it easy. Some women are ready to go back to work after 24 hours. I find that unbelievable! But the doctor also said that the more eggs retrieved, the longer the recovery time, which makes sense. Some women take three or four days to recover. I had moderate pain, probably a three on the pain scale when I woke up from surgery, and about a five or six by the time I got home. Luckily, I was prepared and had cleared my schedule to be down for a few days. (MUCH thanks to amazing friends and VT’s who repeatedly cheered me up, brought me food, and helped with my kids last week!)

What I didn’t see coming: OHSS! Ovarian Hyperstimulation…a possible side effect to egg retrieval and the stim meds.  I had been warned by my doctor that I was at risk for it, but I didn’t give it much thought. I will talk about this in my next post. I think anyone considering IVF should know about it.

Soooo glad it is over. I have already sworn to my husband that I will not be doing anymore fresh retrievals. However, I can already feel myself wanting this to work so I am not going to say, Never. But if there is one thing that would stop me from doing it again, it would be the memory of the egg retrieval. Yuck! Glad it’s over.

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