Eric comes home today!

It’s been a long week with Eric away. I keep thinking I’ll get better at this parenting alone thing. Who knows. I did get a ton of laundry done yesterday, but of course there are more piles today. It’s like the most unforgiving task ever, the gift that keeps on giving, usually in the form of poop streaks compliments of Nora. I’m treating myself with a very pretty mocha at my favorite downtown cafe before I pick up groceries.

I’m working on MOMS Club stuff, like the agenda for our next business meeting, planning our next board meeting, and finding committee leaders for holiday gatherings. I like this part of my role as president, the managing, organizing, leading part. With almost 50 members though, it’s sometimes hard to keep track of everyone’s demands wishes.

A friend of mine is getting ready to have her fourth baby. And I seriously can’t imagine. I’m still finding two a challenge, ever single day! One minute I’m thinking, I have these two perfect little ladies who complete our family. And then the next I think of our tiny embryo… just waiting for its chance to grow. Can I handle three? What if it splits and we get twins, as this is more common with IVF transfers? I can’t handle four alone so much… I’d have to hire help at home, which would completely change our family dynamic. So the question, how does one know when they are finished having children? My case isn’t typical though. I probably shouldn’t carry our embryo, as we know my chances of carrying to term are extremely small. A gestational carrier is a completely different ballgame. One we can afford financially, but what about emotionally? I was just reading about how traumatic experiences change our brain structure, possible forever. This could explain my anxiety and heightened depression since birthing two preemies. Will I ever find calm again? (Am I getting too deep for a Friday?)

A mom friend posted on Facebook how the day her babies were born were the happiest of her life. That is a completely foreign idea to me. Those days, and the weeks that followed each of my girl’s births were not happy or special. They were sad and terrifying and stressful, full of tears and longing to hold my alien-like babies. I was sent away from Nora’s NICU suite on an almost daily basis so they could gather more spinal fluid to see if her meningitis was improving. I left the hospital every night to sleep, waking to pump every three hours. Hardly exciting, happy times. It’s still hard for me to see new moms with their babies… Is that why I want another? Another chance at all the things I feel I missed out on with Nora and Nadia? The baby shower pictures with the big belly, the kicks, the visitors in the hospital…

Or am I just dreaming any of this is possible?

Bad Day

I seriously don’t know how I can keep doing this to myself.  The whirlwind of emotions.  The highs and lows.  Oh, the lows, the sadness, the frustration.  Saying this is difficult for me is an understatement.  I’m extremely thankful for those of you who have been here, are here now… you get it.  For those of you who haven’t been here, I honestly don’t know how to accurately describe the despair I felt today.

Today our final embryo report was released…

A recap for those of you just joining…  Last cycle we retrieved 6 eggs, 4 fertilized, we transferred 2 embryos at day 3, had none left to freeze, got pregnant with 1 but miscarried at 7 weeks.  This cycle we retrieved 12 eggs, 6 fertilized, we transferred 1 embryo on day 5, we have 1 embryo to freeze, and we’re awaiting our beta next Tuesday.

Yes, one freaking embryo to freeze, that’s it.  I’m seriously beyond heartbroken.  I received this news at work, through a message on the patient information line.  Does it get any more impersonal than that?  I mean really, is the cancer center allowed to pass along sad news via a voicemail system???  I know for a fact the Urology department personally calls each and every patient with test results.  I know because Eric spends his evenings do just such.  How do the IVF patients not deserve the same level of care???

Yes, I’m pissy tonight.  And before you even tell me to be positive and relax, please stop.  Every time someone tells me to be positive I feel like I’m being slapped in the face, like my feelings aren’t okay to be felt.  They are what they are, I can’t change how I feel.  I’m sad and frustrated, but mostly terrified I’ll never be a mother.

I have many, many complaints about my clinic, but…  My insurance pays at this clinic in full, including drugs, so a huge part of me feels like I’m not allowed to complain, like I should be thankful regardless the outcome.  But yet, my complaints are many, although they mostly center around communication, or lack there of, and feeling as though my care isn’t personal.  I truly feel as though I am MRN 327xxxxx.  Like there is a protocol and it’s being followed.  Yes, I trust my doctors are knowledgable and have good success rates, but success rates are just that, overall statistics.  They don’t mean much to each individual patient.

Yes, I’m very sad we only have one embryo to freeze, one backup, if you will, but I’m just as sad that no further information was provided based on the remaining four embryos, two of which I was half expecting to be frozen based on their progress and comments from my doctor on Saturday, day 5.  I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know much about embryo grading, but I do know that if they were going to be discarded because they weren’t perfect day 5 blasts, I’d rather have transferred them than have them discarded, which is what I assume was done with them.  My clinic doesn’t freeze until day 5, which I know is very different from some other clinics.  I don’t know the pros and cons of that, but if I’d been with another clinic, they might have been frozen on day 3 when they looked excellent instead of good.  Is there really a 0% chance they would have turned into healthy babies?  If this is such a numbers game, couldn’t we have transferred them and at least tried?

So two retrieval procedures and I’m still not guaranteed a baby.  Well, of course, there are never guarantees, but based on those darn numbers, each embryo has around a 50% chance of resulting in a live birth, so that means between the one we transferred and the one we froze, I might get one child.  Might.  And since I want more than one child, well, you and I both know that means I go through all this again.  Again with no guarantees.  If it takes two retrieval procedures to get one baby, will it take two more to get another?  And how can my clinic still claim nothing is wrong with either of us??  Who ends up with only 2 day-5 embryos after two retrievals??

I realize it’s completely possible this transfer will be born healthy and happy next June.  But I also realize that may not be the case.  I’m hopeful, I want this to work, I do, but I’m realistic too.  And when you’re repeatedly beat down, as I was again today, well, I’d have a hard timing believing anyone else in my shoes would be any more positive.  Our minds have a way of protecting ourselves I think…

And then, to top off my crappy day, there was blood in the syringe when Eric attempted my progesterone shot tonight, so we had to toss that one and start all over.  Meaning another stick…  Oh, the joys!

Tomorrow is only 3dp5dt, but since I have so many HPTs, and I love to pee on things, I figure tomorrow is the day I’ll start.  I obviously don’t expect a reliable result yet, but at least I’ll feel like I’m doing something to pass the time!

Pregnant!

I’m pregnant!  Okay, fair, we don’t actually know yet, but I’m thinking positive this time!  Well, trying to anyway…

Our embryo transfer this morning was a success, although the drive to the hospital and our attempts at parking were less than desirable due to the football fans.  I wanted to leave our home by 9:30am, an hour before our appointment, but at such time, Eric was still in the shower.  That man is going to be late for his own funeral!

We ended up parking in a valet spot, hoping not to be towed.  In our defense though, there were truly no other spots in the ramp we about had to break into.  As much as I love football games, it’s truly a shame the patients come second those Saturdays.  I guess healthcare don’t make the University as much money as football…

The transfer itself was fairly simple, having been through this once before.  My vitals were taken and then we were each asked to change, me into a hospital gown and robe (ultra-sexy, just how I always pictured getting pregnant) and Eric into scrubs.  Our outfits were completed with those awesome blue hair bonnets.  Eric looks slightly pissed in the picture of the two of us, but he must have been just focusing on taking the selfie!

And then we waited.  I had made sure to drink Vitamin Water on the way to the hospital, as instructed to arrive with a full bladder, but I didn’t expect my doctor to be held up in clinic with another procedure.  Of course.  We waited almost an hour in the procedure room, with my bladder becoming more and more uncomfortable by the minute.  Thankfully the doctor on today is super laid-back, the same doctor who did my first transfer actually.  I made every attempt not to pee on him, as he assured me it had never happened in the past, and I certainly didn’t want to be the first!

Before the actual transfer our doctor reviewed our embryos’ progress with us.  Again, the risks involved with a twin pregnancy were discussed…  My doctor highly recommended we transfer only one embryo, as the odds of twins with transferring two is 35%-40%.  There was a part of me that really wanted to transfer two, for a variety of reasons, but I trust my doctor, and Eric, and agreed to transfer just one today.  Somehow there is still a chance of twins, but very small.  Something about 5 day blasts much more likely to split.

Based on the grading, we have 1 embryo we can freeze for sure, a second that looks very likely to be frozen, and then one more which is a maybe, but no guarantees.  Ultimately, two of our six aren’t growing as they should and will be discarded.  I meant to ask why four fertilized abnormally, but forgot in the excitement of the transfer.

I’m okay with transferring just one today, although there is a tiny part of me that will feel bad if this doesn’t work this time, that will wonder if we’d transferred two if we’d ended with a singleton pregnancy anyway.  Time will tell…  Just so over these procedures.

The transfer was fast, a test catheter was used first to make sure placement would be ideal, the embryologist brought in our embryo, and then we watched on ultrasound as it was nestled into just the right spot.

 

After the transfer I was left to rest for ten minutes while Eric cutely distracted me from my extremely full bladder.  (Being a urologist, he enjoyed seeing it on ultrasound.)

I was finally able to pee, then we exited the procedure area and returned to recovery to dress and then were on our way.  No activity restrictions although obviously we weren’t going to the game, or tailgating.  We did stop at Hy-Vee on the way home, first at their Starbucks, yes, I got decaf, and then to pick up a few goodies to eat while we watched the game at home.

I’ve been resting on the couch, alternating between peeing and eating.  Eric was by my side all afternoon while the game was on, but he was paged to the ER two hours ago and still isn’t home.  Our plan was to grill out tonight, but perhaps we’ll save that for tomorrow.

I had quite a bit of cramping earlier this afternoon, but all seems calm now.  I assume this is to be expected, although I don’t really remember much pain after our transfer last cycle.  As for meds, all are finished expect for the progesterone injections each evening.  I’m used to them now, but still can’t say I enjoy them.  I tolerate them, and thankfully feel comfortable giving them to myself if Eric happens to be away some evening, which is very, very possible knowing his awesome schedule.

Eric is on his way home now, so I’ll leave you with a picture of our son or daughter, due around June 1st 🙂

Eric thinks boy ;)
Eric thinks boy 🙂

Looking Good!

I’m feeling a little better today about our transfer, which is scheduled for 10:30am tomorrow morning.

Eric called the embryologist and she emailed him back our summary comparing results from our previous and current IVF cycle.

The embryologist explained that 10 of our 12 eggs fertilized, but for whatever reason (which I assume I will google later tonight) 4 fertilized abnormally, leaving us with 6. Our previous cycle did have a higher fertilization rate but obviously fewer overall eggs.

The summary also shows the number of 4-cell embryos on day 2, of which we had 3 this cycle compared to only 1 last cycle, and the number of embryos with more than 7 cells on day 3, which was even greater at 4 this cycle, so one embryo must have actually caught up overnight!

Our embryos aren’t cultured on day 4 (today) they are left in the incubator, so we won’t know any more until tomorrow morning at our transfer. I’m really hoping these 4 stay strong!!

Which brings me to… how many to transfer. I was originally saying 2, thinking twins is better than nothing. But the embryologist highly recommended we only transfer one if our embryos still look this good tomorrow. Keep in mind my clinic is ULTRA CONSERVATIVE, I mean seriously against multiples because of the added risks to moms and babies. I don’t know though, this is such a numbers game, great looking embryos still fail, and awful looking embryos turn into perfectly healthy babies. So, I’m really unsure at this point how many to transfer. I guess we’ll see what they can tell us tomorrow morning and go from there.

Wish us luck!

 

Transfer Scheduled

Finally received the message…  My transfer is scheduled for Saturday morning at 11am.  I am to arrive by 10:30am with a full bladder.  Oh, how I remember that part being fun!

And did I mention it’s a home football game here Saturday, against Iowa State.  Yeah, I thought ‘breaking’ into the hospital last Saturday for my ultrasound was rough…  All the policemen looked at me like, really, you have an appointment today?

 

So I wait…

I’m at work. I’m supposed to be working, I mean, that’s what people doing at work, right? But I can’t focus. I should receive a message soon with our appointment time for Saturday, the time of our embryo transfer. I half expected a call yesterday, or even this morning, asking us to come sooner, today even for the transfer. I didn’t expect our embryos to do well, and thought perhaps an earlier transfer would be recommended, but so far, no mention of such.

A fellow infertile gave me the ever so coveted phone number to the lab, to check on our embryos. I’ve heard they discourage calling, but these are my children we’re talking about. If 6 of your children were in the hospital, in a lab, without you, wouldn’t you want to know how they’re doing, if they are still alive, if they are growing as they should? I wanted to call, but I didn’t want to break the rules, I didn’t want to bother the lab. So I chickened out and asked Eric to call. The embryologist wasn’t in the lab when he called though, so they couldn’t give him much information, but they did tell him things look promising and that the embryos are as they should be at this stage. Hum, okay, that doesn’t tell me much, as I was really wondering how many are still growing and dividing, but some information is better than none. So I continue to wait.

This is only my second day of work this week, but I’d rather be anywhere else. Part of me wonders why I’m even here, when I have so many other things, more important things, on my mind. I’m going through the motions though, completing reports, responding to emails, voice messages, updating charts, you get the idea. My heart isn’t in this though, and I doubt it will be anytime soon. You see, yesterday, my first day of work this week, my boss scheduled a meeting for my team, including the new girl who started Monday, finally replacing a teammate who left us several months ago. Two of us had been handling the workload the past couple months, and I assumed that once our third member was replaced we’d switch around the work duties a bit, even things out, but I didn’t expect to be completely blindsided. Now granted, my boss knows I’m moving, and thus exiting this role in 10 months, well, 292 days now, but 10 months is a long time in my world! To fully explain the outcome of the meeting, well, I don’t want to bore you, so let me just sum it up by saying, my boss is apparently scared I’m going to leave in 10 months and take all my knowledge with me. To prevent that from happening she is transitioning my work to my other two team members, now. Yes now. That means for the next 10 months my days will be filled with far less meaningful tasks than I was originally hired to complete, tasks that will surely bore me, but that won’t require I train a replacement for once I’m ready to exit. Yeah, F my life. It’s no secret I didn’t love my job, but there were parts I did like, but now those parts below to others on my team. So I get to update PowerPoint slides, for 70 some thousand a year. Yes, perhaps I should see it as, they are getting ripped off, and I’m getting off easy, perhaps I should shut my mouth and enjoy some easy work for the next 10 months while they pay me more than I deserve for the work, but for those of you who know me, well, you know that’s not my style. I want challenges, and excitement, I want to continue learning and growing in this role, I want to look back and see this position as a stepping stone to my next great endeavor… But sadly, none of that can happen now, as I’ll simply be treading water. So yes, I’ve really lost my enthusiasm to be here… Do you really blame me?

And still no message with my transfer time on the patient information line… So I wait…

3 Day Embryo Transfer

I’ve read many blog entries reflecting on transfer day, but still, I can’t seem to find the words to describe how I’m feeling.  It’s a bit surreal…

Two embryos are now nestled in their home for what hopefully turns out to be 9ish months.  I’ve read lots of blogs reflecting on how close and connected women instantly feel to their embryos, even before they are transferred, but sadly, I don’t feel very connected.  Is that a bad sign?  I don’t physically feel any different from how I did last night, when our embryos were still making their home in a lab…  And since I’ve never seen a positive pregnancy test, well, I guess maybe I’m just trying to protect myself from being hurt and disappointed later.

First though, a recap.  We had 6 eggs retrieved last Friday and 4 fertilized normally on their own.  The grading report for our 4 embryos is below.  My clinic grades on a scale of 0-3 with 0 being excellent.

photo (18)

This morning we transferred 2 embryos, both 3 day transfers, one 6 cell graded 0.5, and the other a 7 cell graded 0.0.  My doctor told me they rarely see 0.0 graded embryos, so both of mine transferred are stellar, but I’m wondering if he tells everyone that…  Our embryos first pictures are below!

photo (19)

 

So remaining from our original 4 we have a 5 cell currently graded 1.0 which my doctor expects to continue to grow until day 5, Wednesday, at which point will be frozen for a transfer in the future.  We expect this embryo to continue growing, but there are no guarantees, which is why two were transferred today.  We will know in a few days how embryo #3 is doing.

Embryo #4 has only 2 cells as of day 3 and while all hope isn’t lost just yet, our doctor doesn’t expect #4 to live and continue to grow until day 5.  I’m sad, but it’s certainly not uncommon for some embryos to drop out at each stage in this process.

Friday when I heard we only retrieved 6 eggs I was sad and disappointed, but honestly, now I’m more angry than anything.  And I realize my doctors aren’t to blame, but that doesn’t make this any easier.  All along I had many follicles, giving the impression we would have plenty to pick from for a 5 day transfer, and several to freeze.  But obviously, that is not the case now.  And if they could give me a reason, even if the reason was me, then I could understand this, but they obviously can’t.  The science behind this phenomenal process is still just that, science.  They don’t have all the answers, and as much as I research and review statistics, I still feel like this is just a numbers game, a crap shoot even.  I’ll do my best to take care of these two embryos, but aside from that, I’m not sure there is really anything I can do, or my doctors, to make either of these two implant.  Time will tell.

As far as the procedure this morning, it was quite simple.  Eric and I were ushered into a similar prep/recovery room as we were Friday.  They normally ask the husbands/partners to change into scrubs, but Eric had come from the OR, so he was already dressed and ready.  I changed into your standard hospital gown and robe and my vitals were taken while the nurse reviewed my medical history, again.

Eric and I walked back to the procedure room with the nurse, I was covered with a warm blanket, and we were told the doctor and team would be in shortly.  25 minutes later…  So one thing I must tell you, they ask that patients come with a full bladder for the transfer, something about placing the uterus in a better position for transfer.  So, like a good patient, I drank a Sobe Life Water on my way to the hospital and while we were waiting for the doctor.  My worst fear was peeing all over the doctor, which Eric found hilarious, as he’s been peed on more times than he can count over the years.  In fact, while we were waiting, Eric wanted to use the ultrasound equipment in the room to scan my bladder to see its volume, but I protested of course, saying they will kick us out if we play with their equipment!

Finally the doctor walked in, along with his nurse and an ultrasound tech.  If you’re ever had an IUI, or even a yearly exam, this transfer was similar.  The ultrasound tech put some cool jelly on my belly so she could scan while the doctor was threading the small catheter into my uterus, making sure placement was correct.  The doctor threaded one catheter as a trial run and then the embryos were transferred.  We watched a flicker of light on the ultrasound monitor, and then it was over, that fast.  The picture below was taken just as the embryos were transferred, the smaller, lighter line near the center of this picture.  The huge black area at the top?  Yeah, that’s my full bladder!

photo (20)

 

Tonight I will finish the antibiotic and steroid I’ve been taking since the retrieval, but my progesterone shots will continue, for how long, I’m not sure.  I’m hoping I can switch to the progesterone suppositories after they confirm I’m pregnant…  The actual shots aren’t really all that bad, but really, who wants a huge needle stabbed into their behind each night??  It’s more the after pain, the overall soreness when I sit, or move.  Perhaps the very worst part of this entire process is the progesterone.  Although having to pee today was a close second!

So 11 more days until my pregnancy test…  How shall I pass the time???