Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Small Gift

Babe and I went out for Chinese food for our date night tonight.  We got this in my fortune cookie at the end of dinner.

"A small gift can bring joy to the whole family"

Let's hope this "small gift" will show up in about 9 months!

Transfer in 16 days.  Can't believe we will be hopping on a plan in exactly 2 weeks. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Unexpected Blessing

I received a HUGE unexpected blessing last night.

I was chatting with a friend on FB while watching a movie at home and eating a slice of peach tart when she asked me for my email address and then asked me to check my email.  I received an email from a hotel with a confirmation for a hotel reservation.  I was like, what's this?

My friend, bless her heart, had sneakily booked us a hotel room for our stay in Knoxville!  She is giving us our entire 4 nights of hotel stay for FREE using her credit card points!

Eeeekkk!! We were just talking over lunch about how I needed to book my hotel and car rental yet, and how the price of the hotel we used to stay in had for some reason gone up a lot.  I was contemplating staying at a cheaper hotel that we had never been in, but was a little nervous about.  I was telling her I may just suck it up and pay more for a nicer and more established hotel.  This hotel that we are booked in is really nice, and costs $160 a night, way beyond our budget for a hotel room.

When I looked back at our FB conversation, I see that she had been sneaky, asking me a few questions about where I was looking to book, etc.  I am so grateful for her generosity.  She said it didn't cost her anything but her credit card points, though she could use it for other stuff for herself.   She said it was a pleasure for her to help me out, so I didn't have to not worry about money and, I could, quoting her, ".... relax n enjoy n get pregnant dammit"!  I thought that was pretty hilarious.

I am so grateful to her for this generous gift.  She is a blessing to me.

Today, I finally booked our rental car.  We are renting from Enterprise car rental, another first for us.  Wow, this trip is full of firsts and new experiences.  I hope that is a good sign for our transfer as well.

On another note, today I increased my Es.trace dosage to one tablet, twice a day, an increase from only half a tablet twice a day.  Also today, I was just sitting here surfing on FB when BAM! Holy hot flashes!  Out of nowhere came this hot flash.  I have never experienced anything like that.  For a bit there I thought something was wrong with me, and then I thought oh that's right, I'm on Lu.pron.  Usually the only times I have ever felt any hot flashes was in bed at night.  This was a first and hopefully not too many more.

On Sunday I had received an email from Debbie, the counselor/mediator that works with NEDC donor families.  She passed on a note from my donor family that they are excited to hear about my May transfer date.  They wish us the best of luck, and are thinking of us often.  It's alway really nice to hear from the donor families.  They sound like a great family and are very open to having communication with us, even now, before our transfer.  We have decided that we will wait until there is a successful pregnancy before communicating directly with them, and are understand our decision.

17 days to transfer!

Friday, April 25, 2014

National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW)

So..... this week is National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW), from April 20th - 26th.  It is the 25th year is has been celebrated.   It is organized by RESOLVE to encourage the infertility community to spread the message and educated others about infertility.

Many people have posted on about NIAW and shared their infertility journeys.  I have never been very open about our infertility to our friends and family, except in this blog.  It's just one of those things that Babe and I are not comfortable sharing with others publicly, except for a few close friends and family, though many people probably have already guessed that we are dealing with infertility.  I think I may be more open about this, when and if we get to "the other side", i.e. when we are finally able to bring a child home.

I had intentions to participate this year on this blog, to write a post or share a couple of articles.  But I got busy.  And lazy.  And the next thing I know, it's already the end of the week.  Oh well.

Today, one of my fellow blogger friends posted this quote that beautifully states the definition of infertility:

"The English language lacks the words to mourn an absence.  For the loss of a parent, grandparent, spouse, child or friend, we have all manner of words and phrases, some helpful some not.  Still we are conditioned to say something, even if it is only "I'm sorry for your loss".  But for an absence, for someone who was never there at all, we are wordless to capture the particular emptiness.  For those who deeply want children and are denied them, those missing babies hover like silent ephemeral shadows our their lives.  Who can describe the feel of a tiny hand that is never held?"
  - Laura Bush, Spoken From the Heart

I love that this quote describes the feeling of emptiness of missing something that was never there in the first place.  How can you miss something that was not there?  You can.  And you may never understand that feeling until you walk the path of infertility.

Today, I started my Es.trace pills.  Half a tablet, twice a day.  It's always interesting trying to cut your tiny pills in half.  Thank goodness for the pill cutter.

Cutting the Es.trace pills in half

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Endometrial Biopsy Done!

Today, I had two different appointments involving my uterus.  In the morning I went to my local RE clinic that does my monitoring for NEDC to have my baseline ultrasound and blood work done.  Later this afternoon, after a bit of chasing down my results (NEDC again did not receive the faxed results even though the clinic said they faxed it earlier), I was told my lining was 2.1 mm and my estradiol was less than 2, both which are good numbers.  I start my Es.trace (estrogen) pill tomorrow, half a pill twice a day.

After that appointment, I had my endometrial biopsy with my gynecologist in the afternoon.  Half an hour prior to my appointment, I took 2 A.leve tablets for pain relief.  The procedure went about how I expected it.  There was not a lot of pain, but definitely a lot of *discomfort*.

The goal of this "biopsy" is not really to collect a sample of the lining, but was to "scratch" the surface of the lining, to fluff (my words) things up a bit.  Research has shown that it can help with implantation for women that have a hard time getting pregnant.  And Dr. Keenan recommends this for patients doing their third attempts at NEDC.

**TMI Warning**
Here's a brief description of the procedure.  If you don't want to know the details, you should skip this part.

After inserting the speculum, the doctor washed the cervix with a special solution.  He explained that it is the same stuff they use for surgeries at the hospital.  The cervix was then grasped and help in place with a clamp.  He explained that novocain (local anesthetic) would be administered to the cervix.  At first I thought it was going to be swabbed on, but he said nope, it was going to be injected.  He injected the novocain twice and it didn't feel bad at all.  I thought well, if being injected didn't hurt, then the biopsy couldn't be that bad.  And I figured since I had novocain, I should be OK, right?  Well..... I was wrong.

I wished I had asked to look at the tool he was using but I was too nervous.  The tool was inserted through the cervix into the uterus and was moved up and down quickly.  He did this a few times and I really started cramping up.  I was not in a lot of pain, but it was extremely uncomfortable.  He remove the tool (I'm assuming to remove some tissue or clean the tool), put it back, and repeated as before.  This time it got REALLY uncomfortable, I actually made an "ugly" face and said "ow, ow, ow".  Looking back, I guess it did hurt after all (and I think I have a fairly high pain tolerance).

The good thing was it was done very quickly.  I think from the start to the end, it took less than 10 minutes.  I was so grateful that it was done.  The doctor had me lie down to rest for about 10 minutes before he said I could get dressed and leave.  I took advantage of the time to read a magazine catch up on celebrity news.

Because the goal of this procedure was not to collect a sample, no tissue was sent to pathology.  As the doctor said, it's one less thing I have to pay for.

I'm so glad this is over with.  I was quite nervous about having to do this.  However, I'd take an endometrial biopsy over a D&C any day.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Polyp Free!

Today I had an ultrasound to have my uterus checked for polyps.  In the past, I had this done prior to my IVFs because I've had multiple instances where it had returned.  In fact, last September, my FET at NEDC was cancelled because they found a polyp (which later my doctor said there were more than one) right before we were supposed to hope on a plane for our transfer.  I had a hysteroscopy and D&C  to have it removed in October.

Today, I went in again to have it checked because I didn't want a repeat of what happened in September.  I was actually quite nervous at the appointment, worried about what if the polyps had returned.  Then I would have to postpone my transfer again, and would have to deal the the medical bill of another hysteroscopy.  Thank God my scan came up clear of polyps.

However, during the scan, the technician found something interesting.  He thinks I may have a slight case of, or early onset of Adenomyosis.  It is a condition where the endometrial tissue that usually lines the uterus start growing into the muscles of the uterus.  This can cause the thickening of the uterine walls and can cause heavy or longer-than-usual periods as well as pain during period or sex.  I do not have any of these symptoms right now, and my gynecologist is not worried about it at this point.  He does not believe this will impact my ability to conceive or affect my transfer outcome.  So that is good to know.

So now that I got the all clear from polyps, I have the peace of mind for a true "go" for the May transfer protocol.  Now that that's out of the way, I finally booked our flights to Knoxville for our transfer.

I took my last birth control pill on Saturday and today, I started my period today, with the "perfect" timing of right before my ultrasound.  I found out my period started when I used the bathroom minutes before my appointment.  Tomorrow morning, I will have my baseline ultrasound and blood work appointment.  If all goes well I should be starting my Es.trace tablets on Friday.

Tomorrow I will also have my endometrial biopsy that was recommended by Dr. Keenan for patients doing their third attempts at NEDC.  The biopsy is not so much to do a pathology report, but is used more for "scratching" the lining of the uterus.  I guess there has been research to show that this can help with implantation.  I'm a little nervous since I've heard it can be very uncomfortable.  I won't be sedated but will take some pain killers prior to the procedure.

Tomorrow is going to be a busy day.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

And So It Begins.... Again.

And so it begins.... again.

I started Lu.pron tonight.  I have been on birth control pills since March and will continue till Saturday night, but the Lu.pron shots officially (to me at least) marks the beginning of my protocol for my May transfer.

After talking over with Babe we have decided that we will stick with 2PNs as per NEDC's normal process for donors with both 2PNs and blastocysts.  Yesterday, Carol the embryologist called me after hearing that I had some concerns but I assured her that we have decided to stick with NEDC's usual process and go with the 2PNs.

According to Carol, they will thaw three 2PN embryos 2 days before our transfer, with the goal of having at least 2 of those will survive and grow into healthy multicells.  If all three are of great quality, they will only transfer two,  and will refreeze one for future use.  According to her, this is the best stage to refreeze embryos if needed.  She also said that 2PNs do very well at thaw and have pretty good pregnancy rates.  The pregnancy rate for 2PNs is the same as multicell and blastocysts.

The other thing Carol mentioned is Dr. Keenan tends to recommend patients going for their third try at NEDC to try embryos from a different stage than the previous attempts.  This is true as Dr. Keenan did suggest trying embryos that are not blasts this time around.  It just so happened that while looking at donor profiles, most of the donors that seemed right for us had blasts.  The family we selected just happened to also have 2PNs, so like I mentioned in my previous post, they were more of an afterthought.  But we have decided this is good thing, using 2PNs.  In the end, we are ending up to use embryos at a stage suggested by the doctor anyway.

One more thing that will be different for us this transfer.  Because we are using 2PNs, NEDC will have to do assisted hatching on the embryos, which at the time of transfer will be at the multicell stage.  There is an additional cost of $525, but that in the end, the cost is just another part of the process of working with embryos.

I have scheduled my 2 ultrasound and lab appointments for 4/24 and 5/12.  My endometrial biopsy is also scheduled on 4/24.  In addition, I have scheduled an ultrasound to check my uterine lining for polyps.  My gynecologist has suggested having the biopsy and ultrasound on the same day so I could save a trip to the doctor's office.  Unfortunately, the ultrasound tech is not in the office the day I need to have my biopsy, so I have to go in to the doctor's 2 days in a row.  My gynecologist wants to have the ultrasound done as close as possible to the biopsy so he has the most current results.  I also checked with my gynecologist if there are any other testing that can be done for recurring chemical pregnancies and he said no.  Dr. Keenan said the same thing, so I will let that rest.

So right now, all my appointments are scheduled, my calendars are updated with appointment and reminders to take my medication on my phone.  I just have to remember to do my shots and take my meds.

Next up, I need to book our flights, hotel and car rental.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Finally, Our Transfer Date

I have been waiting for my May transfer date and protocol all week.  I knew I would get it by Friday because Katie, the nurse's last was was Friday.  On Thursday, I heard that some of the ladies on the FB embryo adoption/donation group had received their protocols.  Yet, I still did not get mine.  I knew that in the past, my transfers were usually towards the end of NEDC's cycle because I was transferring blasts.  So I assumed mine would be towards the end again.  I was getting pretty anxious.  So Friday morning, I sent Katie an email saying I still have not received my protocol yet.  I received an response that she was working on the protocols then and hoped to get them all by the end of the day.  At a little after noon, I finally received my protocol.

My transfer is scheduled for Friday, May 16th.

I was pretty excited to get my transfer date and a little earlier than I had expected.  Then I noticed that the stage of my embryos to be transferred is 2PNs (day 1 embryos).  I was a little surprised as I was expecting to transfer blasts (day 5 embryos).  I called Katie and spoke to her about this.  Because our new donors has both 2PNs and blasts, NEDC's normal process is to thaw and 2PNs first and grow them into multicells (day 3) and transfer them.  That way if none of the 2PNs survive, NEDC would still have time to thaw the blasts and we would not have to cancel our transfer.

I'm a little torn about this.  We selected the donor family based on the fact that they had blasts, and we were planning on transferring blasts.  The fact that the donors also has 2PNs was more of an afterthought.  I am worried that we will not have a successful an outcome with 2PNs as with blasts, though I know many people have had success with transferring blasts, multicells and 2PNs.  On the other hand, Dr. Keenan had suggested we consider transferring different stage embryos this time around since we had transferred blasts the last two transfers.  I think we had decided on blasts because we still had leftover blasts from our last donor family.  I had asked Katie about the success rate of embryos from different stages and she assured me that many pregnancies have resulted from all three stages and the success rate is the same.

Katie said that if we really wanted to, we could call the embryologist on Monday (she was out of the office) and talk to her about it.  We do have a total of 7 2PNs and 5 blasts, so it is possible that we could have enough blasts to transfer if we really wanted to.  However if none of the blasts survive the thaw, then our transfer would be cancelled, though this is highly unlikely.

Babe and I need to talk about this a little more and decide if we should just go with the normal NEDC process as they obviously know what are doing, or if we want to push transferring blasts.  I think I am just a little shaken up realizing that we may not be transferring blasts after having setting my mind on it.  But maybe that is not such a bad thing.  I just have to shift my thinking a little.  I will be praying about this.

After getting my protocol, I called the pharmacy to order my medications for this transfer.  This time, I ordered only what I really need to get me through the transfer and my first beta.  I still have some leftover meds from my previous cycle too.  Plus, with the new pharmacy, and maybe this year's coverage has changed, the some meds cost a lot more than before.

When we were still working with Briova, the PIO (progesterone in oil) only cost me around $20 and $4  for 4 vials each time.  This time around, it cost me about $60 for 2 vials!  I'm so glad I ordered the PIO from Briova last time, even though I didn't need it then.  Also, now I have to pay for the syringes and needles, whereas in the past, it came free.  I'm waiting to order needles and syringes since I have a lot of extras from past transfers and a fellow blogger friend who is now pregnant sent me her extras.  I thought it was unnecessary then, but now I am grateful for them.  Es.trace is still super pricey, costing me about $3.50 each tablet (and I need about 70 to last me through my beta).

And this showed up at the door yesterday morning via overnight service.

It is a lot less than my usual order of meds, but like I mentioned earlier, I only ordered what I absolutely need.
  • 2-week Lu.pron kit + extra syringes and needles
  • 2 vials of progesterone in oil (PIO)
  • 15 tablets of Es.trace
  • Albuterol for transfer
  • Diazepam ( for transfer
Next step, I'll be starting my Lu.pron shots on Tuesday.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What Gets You Through?

It's been almost 2 weeks since my last post.  I've been in a bit of a funk...... feeling left behind by all of the pregnancy good news.  Like the world is passing me by.  I've heard that there are at least 5 confirmed pregnancies from the March transfer at NEDC.  Plus one from one of my blog readers.  March was a good month I guess.

I'm just waiting for time to pass, for the May transfer to come along.  I have yet to find out what my transfer date is but I will have it before the end of the week.  I found out that Katie, the NEDC nurse that I have been working with for the past year is leaving and her last day is this Friday.  I will miss her and her quirky sense of humor.  She is supposed to have our protocols out to us before she leaves, so I am expecting to get the protocol in the next couple of days, by Friday.  I expect that once I receive the protocol, things will start feeling like it is moving along again.

I want to thank you for the comments you left at my last post.  It was a bit of a downer, but it was how I felt at that time.  I always want to be honest and sincere here on my blog.  I was so touched by the kind comments and also emails, FB messages and texts I received.  I have received more than one message that said that because of my blog, I made a difference in their lives.  I am so humbled and touched by this.  Infertility is such a difficult journey and sharing it not only helps makes it easier for me, but it also touches the lives of others.  And for that I am grateful.

This last few weeks have been tough.  A few of my friends have told me that I am a strong person, that my faith shows.  Honestly, lately I feel like my faith has been shaken.  I still believe in God, and that He has a plan for me.  I just wonder what His plans really are, and if that includes having children in our family, or how those children will come to us.  I know God has a plan for good things for me, but in the thick and thin of this right now, it is hard to see what it is.

So my question for you, dear readers, is what gets you through your toughest times?  When you think the world is going to hell, and you are about to give up, what do you turn to?  Would you share a bible verse with me?  A quote?  A poem?

I'd like to get this together and print them on 4x6 cards and bind them together in ring.  Something I can read and meditate on when I am down.  I put together a collection of bible verses for a friend when her husband was fighting cancer and I'd like to do the same here.

I already have a few bible verses I have saved, but would love to hear what yours are.  I still cling to this:

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.