Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Email Sent to NC Women's Birth & Wellness Center

Good afternoon,

I have been a patient at your center in the past, for well-woman care. A friend of mine recently became pregnant for the first time, through IVF (in vitro fertilization) and mentioned to me that your center no longer accepts women who conceived via IVF. I am curious to hear your reasons for this decision. As a center that says it promotes "dignity and respect", and "birth as a uniquely personal event", I am surprised to see IVF listed along with the other exclusionary criteria on your website. While I understand having disqualifying events that are actually medically based (such as prior surgery on the uterus, etc.), I don't see how a method of conception, in and of itself, fits with the rest of your list (from: 

Can you clarify the reasoning behind this? Currently, with the way it's listed, it seems to be a rather insensitive way to exclude women who already have been through so much and been made to feel so marginalized and even defective by the mainstream medical establishment. I am curious to hear the Birth Center's thinking on publishing this on your website, and what your reasons for this new policy are.

Thanks for your time in answering my question!

Better Today

Yesterday morning was rough, but things got better after that.

Duke called, and my lab results all are normal, although I won't find out AMH, probably the most important one, till Friday. That's basically a test of ovarian reserve. Mine has always been great, but I'm curious to see how it is now, considering my somewhat crappy embryo quality from my past two IVF cycles.

But what really cheered me up was a long walk in the woods with K and her dog. Having someone to talk to, who has been through this and reacts similarly to myself, is the best thing ever. It's gonna be hard once she moves away. I know, there is still email. Anyway, she reassured me that freaking out at the doctor's is totally normal, and that I shouldn't feel bad for having been so nervous.

Also, later in the day, I went to the support group, and B told me that her hydro was painful too. She just had downplayed it to me so I wouldn't get too nervous. Ummm. Not sure if that was helpful or not, but whatever, it's done.

Support group last night was nice. There were a bunch of new people and it was good to meet them. It's kind of scary when I am the most veteran member there. Well, B and H have been coming longer, but neither of them is about to start her 3rd IVF. I tried not to talk too much. I think many of those women honestly think IUI is going to get them pregnant, or maybe their first IVF, if they even have to get there. And good luck to them. I hope it does. I'm just jaded from my own experiences.

Anyway, only two more workdays and then I'm off on vacation! Now that the doctor's appointment is over, I can focus on that. The plan is to wait and get my period (probably around January 12th, if I have another 38 day cycle. Then two weeks of birth control takes to about January 26th, at which point I can start shots again. So, for now, I just go on vacation, and try to forget all about my fertility. I'm not even bothering charting/temping/fertility sex/blah blah blah- just going to enjoy my vacation and break from real life. I am looking forward to the next month.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hydo Sono Hell

Today was the dreaded hydro sonogram (water sono or 3-D sono, it seems to have several names). I had been assured by a few people that it wasn't too bad, and not nearly as bad as the HSG. Well, that's great for them, but for me it was not fun. Not at all. I was so nervous. Too nervous. My cervix cramped up and he had to try a couple of times to get the catheter in, and it kept cramping. I was sweating and thought I would either throw up or pass out. I wouldn't say the cramping was as bad as the HSG, but for me, it was close. Dr. M seemed to think I was a wimp. He said I have to relax for transfer, and that's very important. I felt bad because I've had three transfers (including mock) and never felt anything. Why was this so much worse? Same catheter, right? I'm confused and feel crampy still. Was it all psychological, because I was nervous? I feel like I did something wrong by being so nervous.

Also disappointing: their computers were down. So he couldn't give me any test results from last Friday. Or talk about the plan. All I know is that I have to finish this cycle (another 30 or so days, if it's like last time) and then do 2 or 3 weeks of birth control, then I can start. That puts me at starting stimming in mid to late January, which is fine. But I was hoping we could have sat down and talked about it, and dosages, etc. But no. He just said to call Mia, the IVF coordinator, in a few days. Um I think I will call tomorrow. I'm sure their computers will be up by then. They have to call me later anyway, to get the co-pay since the system was down.

So, bad morning, cried a bunch on the way home, still a tad bit crampy but it's fading. I had B drop me at home and I'm going to read and maybe nap later. Tonight is the support group and I have to talk about guidelines. What a crappy day. Life feels really unfair right about now, and really overwhelming.

Monday, December 10, 2012

New Clinic: Appointment #1

Went in on Friday for day 3 bloodwork and a baseline ultrasound. I'm still not totally clear on why I had to do an ultrasound, since I'm not cycling this time. But the doctor had asked for one, and besides, I always like confirmation that I have no new cysts.

In any case, everything was fine. I had a 7.5 size follicle on the left, and several on the right, with the lead one of 11.5. I did not get a total antral follicle count- forgot to ask, I was so relieved about the lack of cysts. I will ask when I am there tomorrow, meeting with my doctor. It was the nurse practitioner who did the scan on Friday. I really liked her. In fact, everything went pretty well at this new clinic. I only waited 7 minutes from when I arrived till I was checked in and led to an exam room. Everyone was polite. The room was nicer than my old clinic's rooms, with a smaller table to sit on and an, um, smaller sonogram wand. Everything was fast- in and out of there in less than 40 minutes.

No other news. Had a pretty good weekend, and didn't think too much about any of it. Tomorrow is the hydro sonogram. I was terrified of it, and I'm sure I will be nervous tonight, but after the stress of NOT getting my period, I am actually more relieved than nervous.

IVF makes you tough. Most people have sex to get pregnant. I go through repeated painful or at least uncomfortable procedures. Scans, retrievals, transfers, and a million shots and blood draws. To hear women complain about pap smears now makes me laugh. Most people who haven't done this can have no idea, no clue how much it is to go through (and let's not even get started on how much it costs- they fall over in shock at that).

So tomorrow is the hydro sonogram, also called the 3-D sono, and then we talk to my doctor about the results from Friday and the plan to go forward in January. I am looking forward to having these details settled. And then, on Saturday, we leave for our trip! Feeling excited!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Hello, Old Frenemy

Been in a horrible slump the last few days, but late last night my old frenemy (friend/enemy), my period, decided to finally return (day 38 of my cycle!).

Never been so happy to see it in my life.

I now have two appointments scheduled at my new clinic: day 3 bloodwork and baseline ultrasound on Friday morning, and the dreaded water sonogram next Tuesday morning. I think I can do the Friday stuff alone, but of course B will come with me to the Tuesday appointment, where he will actually meet my new doctor and hopefully we will talk about the protocol for starting in January.

I am crampy and bloated and so, so happy to have gotten my period, and just hoping that I am cyst-free and can start as scheduled. What a huge relief.

Also, I feel kinda desperate, but I did call and schedule acupuncture sessions. I am starting in January, with three Thursday mornings set up. I would have liked to begin sooner, but we're leaving for our trip in 10 days, and it's just too crazy to try to do it now. I did not like my last experience with acupuncture, but most of it was the guy. This is all women, and a woman in my support group said they are great. They also work with my new clinic, which is nice. If I want to have a post-transfer session right at the clinic, they will do that. I don't know that I believe in it, and the studies are still contradictory at best, but perhaps it will help. Even if it can mitigate my anxiety during a cycle, that would be great. It's super expensive, but what part of this isn't. I guess it is worth a try. Whatever I can do differently this time, I will do. Hope this can be lucky #3.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

ISO: My Period

Today is day 38 of my cycle. I am not kidding. Where, where, WHERE has my period gone?

I have only had one non-medicated cycle since my endo surgery last March, and it was 26 days. So I expected maybe a 28 or 30 day cycle... but 38 days!?!? Wtf?

If I don't get my period on day 46 or before (next Wednesday or before, and today is Tuesday), I'm screwed. It means that if I can't get my day 3 bloodwork and my water sono done before we leave next Friday for Ecuador, then I will get my period while we are gone, be unable to have the tests done, and then have to go a whole extra cycle before doing. So another 40 or more days, then do the testing, and then finish out that 40 plus day cycle. Basically, I won't be able to do IVF till March or so. I was supposed to be able to start in January, and this means an extra six weeks or more.

When I realized this, after calling the clinic and asking if there isn't anything they can do (answer: no), I had another meltdown and ended up crying in the conference room at work. B had to come get me and we went for a walk so I could calm down.

Why can't I ever get a break? It's bad enough that I have to have 8 failed Clomid cycles, 2 failed IVFs, an invasive laparoscopic surgery, endometriosis, and now I can't even have my period come in a reasonable amount of time. Day 38!?!?

I feel like I might lost all my sanity if I think about this anymore. If my period does not come by next Wednesday, I really am going to lose it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Adoption Thoughts

No news on my period yet, but came across a quote in a book about adoption that made me get all teary on the couch last night:

    She is a joyous girl, but her questions began, if only tentatively. "Why did you choose me? Were the other babies ugly?"
    "I chose you because I fell in love with you when you turned your head and looked into my eyes," I
    tell her. "I saw your soul, and knew you were my daughter."

As much as I am totally committed to doing IVF one or possibly two more times, I find myself being more and more open to adoption. Hearing from the adoption foundation that came to speak at Resolve and the founders who shared their personal story of five miscarriages and eventual adoption and their great love for their son, and reading Dan Savage's book about adopting, both made me more deeply consider it as a viable and even happy option. Being a mother is about parenting, and not pregnancy, and these books and the couple from Goetz made me contemplate this possibility. I know that B feels strongly that he wants that biological link, but he is also totally committed to having a child by whatever means possible, and so he is open to it too. In fact, it's me pushing the last couple of tries with IVF- I want to feel that I did everything possible (also, it would be cheaper if it works, and at least we'd feel comfortable with our genetics and no depression/cancer/etc and a guarantee of no smoking/drinking during pregnancy).

Anyway, it also reminds me of the other two quotes that constantly go through my head, both of which I have posted on this blog earlier and also make me cry to re-read:

     I can't know the pain you may have experienced in your quest for conception- the disappointment, the frustration, the hope and the hopelessness of each negative pregnancy test. Perhaps you, like me, have felt the heartbreak of conceiving and losing a child. Perhaps, like me, you have given the power over your own body to doctors in the hope that somehow they will make everything better. I don't know why we have been chosen to undertake such a painful journey, why we must go through such struggles to bring our children into the world. But I do know that when we look into our babies' faces, they will never have to wonder if they were really wanted. Ours are the children who, no matter how they came to us, will look at their parents and know, from the deepest place in their heart, how much we cherish them, and how we labored to give them life. And in that there is no greater security and no greater gift. 
(from a book on acupuncture, can't remember the title)


“I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. I’m saying it’s going to be worth it.”
(Quote read on someone else's fertility blog)

and finally, from my mom:

You, my sweetness, were wanted, planned, and adored from your very first moment. I think this is a case of "quality over quantity." When people have asked me, why i did not have any other children since i love and enjoy you so much, i say that i had one perfect winner. why would i want to screw the odds.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Day 32

Day 32 of my cycle and no period. WTF? I used to have long cycles, but I thought the endo surgery would help correct that. I've only done one natural cycle since then, and it was only 26 days. I wimped out and took a pregnancy test two days ago, and of course it was negative. So now I don't know what to do except wait, and see. If I still don't get it by Saturday, I can test again, but I'm sure it will come. It would be a miracle, an absolute miracle, if I got pregnant before starting this whole IVF mess again, but miracles don't happen to me anymore. Not when it comes to my fertility.

I really just don't understand. If my long cycles and delayed ovulation were my endo, then what's the deal now, post-surgery? What is wrong with me? If we thought maybe it was mainly B's confused sperm, which the tests show being borderline for forward motility and the one non-ICSI IVF confirmed an abysmal fertilization rate, then this long cycle shows that isn't it either. My egg quality sucked during the IVFs but I thought maybe I was over-suppressed. I just don't understand. Everything else about me is so healthy, and I eat well and exercise and I wouldn't say I am under undue stress. Aughh!

In other fertility news, I am still the de facto coordinator of the RESOLVE support group, and still wondering how to handle the problem we had last meeting with a new person. Today I talked to a woman at the national headquarters, about our "difficult" new person. She talked/complained about her children (three of them! for real) and bragged about her 100% insurance coverage (and adoption coverage too). I am nervous to talk to her before the next meeting, but it has to be done. We don't want anyone to feel uncomfortable, and she really dominated the group. Not okay. Hopefully she will not come back, or has found support some other way. Sigh.

Anyway, for now I will continue life as usual, just waiting for my period, hoping it won't come, but wishing it would soon if it's gonna. I'm terrified of the water sonogram but just want to get it over with too. Also, we leave for Ecuador in two and a half weeks (exciting!) and I'd like to have our January plan set up before then.

I can't believe it's been two years. I should have a baby in my arms now, but no. It's just me, my distracted husband, and my spoiled kitty cat. Same old, same old. Not feeling very cheerful today.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Annoyance, and Waiting

I really enjoy a class at my gym called Body Pump. I like to go on Sunday afternoons, but sometimes my weekends get really busy and I end up missing the class. They offer a Monday evening Pump, and I used to attend that one sometimes.

Till about three or four months ago, due to the instructor. She is about my age, maybe younger, and had to mention EVERY song how she is pregnant. I mean, she was like 7 months pregnant at the time. It was OBVIOUS she was huge, yet she had to chirp before every song, "Well I won't be doing this move the same way as y'all, because I'M PREGNANT." Or "This move is really hard for me because I'M PREGNANT." UMMMM DUHHHH. I didn't mind seeing her pregnant belly, but hearing about it 10 times in an hour was too much for me. I quit going.

So months have gone by, and I figured she'd either be on maternity leave or be back to teaching again, post-baby. I went to the class last night, and there she was, no pregnant belly. Great! Except as luck would have it, it was her first class back at the gym after having her baby. And she had to mention it not once, not twice, but again, almost EVERY song. "This one is sooo hard because I didn't do it the whole time I was pregnant" or "Gosh this is nice again, after it was so hard while I was pregnant." I can understand one or two comments, but continuously? She never complained about pregnancy, so at least there was that. But omg, she had to TELL US her birthing details. NO ONE ASKED. She told us it took 3 hours, it was uncomplicated, no medical intervention, and she had a midwife. Like I give a flying fuck. Also, I learned that it was her second baby! For all the obsessive talking about BEING PREGNANT she used to do, I had assumed it was her first one. Geez.

In any case, now I know to definitely avoid the Monday class for a while longer. I wish there were a way to complain, but there really isn't. Sadly, although she is annoying as hell, it's a case of where it's me, not her, that is the issue.

In other news, I have no news. Today is day 24 of my cycle. I have been very bad. We tried conception sex every other day from day 13 to day 20, but I've still kept drinking. I never have been a huge drinker, but lately I've been upping it. I've had between 1 and 3 glasses of wine each night for the past two weeks, probably leaning more towards the 3 glasses. I used to not drink after ovulation, but frankly, the chances of it happening are so slim that I have pretty much given up. However, I probably should stop soon, just in case.

Anyway, I should get my period within the next week or so, and then I call Duke to set up blood test and the water sonogram thing (hydrosonogram?). I was terrified of it, but B, another woman in my support group, has reassured me a bit, as she just had hers at UNC today. I think I will take some Percocet and practice controlled breathing and try to get through it that way.

Will update again once I have news of my period and the next steps.

Monday, October 29, 2012


As of last Thursday, I was feeling okay about ARC. Not wonderful, but okay. I liked the doctor and liked her intention to try a different protocol, but the drive is kind of a pain. A lot of time on the highway. Their prices are higher than other clinics, and it bothers me a little bit that the place was so empty. I worry a little about a place that is so new and untested, yet charges so much more than well-established places. I went into the next two consults with curiosity and a bit of nervousness that one of them, or both, would tell me not to waste my time. However, that was not the case.

My consult with Duke was first. I was prepared to not like them, and to not want another big university-based experience. However, I was totally impressed by both the clinic and the doctor. The clinic is near Southpoint and therefore pretty convenient- not as close as my old clinic of course, but I can get there in 20 minutes with no traffic. It's in a free-standing building with plenty of parking right out front, which is also nice and different from my previous experience of having to pay for parking and walk quite a bit (not really something you always want to do after procedures). It wasn't as fancy as ARC, but certainly didn't have the public hospital, slightly grungy feel of my old clinic. I also liked the tea machine  :)

Anyway, I spent only half an hour with the doctor but he answered all of my questions with confidence and with as much certainty as you can possibly expect or hope to hear. He agreed that there is no guarantee, but that it's likely the birth control and Lupron were over-suppressing me. In fact, he scoffed at the fact that I did two cycles on Lupron. He said Lupron is considered good for endometriosis patients, but that with a low responder like me, it's a bad idea. He said that it's an outdated treatment regimen that he hasn't been using for 15 years. He also disapproved of my having the endo surgery, and indicated that it may have caused more harm than good to my fertility. While I don't know, since he didn't see all my surgery records, that was upsetting to hear. He think it is worth one or two more tries, with my age and my great AMH. He predicts I will do at least as well in quantity, but what he really wants to focus on is quality.  He told me that is his goal for me. He will not let me go too long, but trigger much earlier, and he won't have me on such high drug levels. He doesn't need lots of eggs or big follicles, but good ones. I left feeling reassured. He advised me to quit the birth control and come back at the end of next cycle for AMH and FSH testing, and a baseline ultrasound and a water sonogram. We'll see how many antral follicles I have and plan for January. I left feeling calm and hopeful.

The next day, I spoke with the doctor from SG. It's funny, because I expected to not like Duke and to like SG, and it was the total opposite. Whereas I trusted the Duke doctor and felt that he fully and respectfully explained each part of his thinking to me, the SG doctor completely turned me off. He didn't seem to review my records personally, and would not give me the details I politely requested from him. I wanted exact medication recommendations, but he just kept saying, "We'll double what you were on." Huh? I was already nearly maxed out on allowable/beneficial amounts. He recommended another sperm analysis, but I don't see the point since we're doing ICSI regardless. A test won't change our treatment, so why bother? When I politely argued this, he then agreed. But what most upset me was his insistence on a repeat HSG. I had a traumatic first HSG and he said we can do sedation, but that is likely to run me thousands of dollars. I guess Maryland patients have the insurance for this, but I do not. Unless I have a clear and logical explanation for why this is helpful, why would I agree? He would not clearly explain the necessity. Something about leakage from my tubes post surgery could affect implantation... while this makes some vague sense, he did not bother to explain it to me. He didn't seem to want to explain anything to me, but just for me to blindly follow all recommendations. I have come too far and am too experienced to take this attitude, and I am done following doctors without understanding or agreeing. The whole consult made me uncomfortable and upset me, and I was very late to work due to my crying.

Some of why I was crying is not his fault. All three doctors seem to agree that Lupron was not the protocol for me, especially after an unsuccessful first cycle. They all think the surgery may have irreparably harmed my fertility. I am confused by what this all means, and how I may have wasted so much time and emotions and money on what turns out to not have been the best treatments for me. I am upset that I didn't do my research well and went to a clinic with such low success rates compared to the other clinics in my area. I have been through so much heartbreak and stress and anxiety, and it has affected my relationships, my work, my self-esteem, and my friendships. It sucks.

And now I have these large, looming doubts about the HSG. I wonder if it would tell us something, but my guess is that it would not. And even if it showed some obstacle to implantation, would that really change anything? We would still try IVF again, because nothing is ever certain, and we would hope that with increased quality, we'd have a better outcome. Furthermore, I don't think I have it in me to go through all this with SG, without B being with me for a week or more. My mom and dad are great, but being home in my bed, with my kitty and my husband- that's what I need when going through IVF.

I did ask the nurse at Duke to ask the doctor there about an HSG and he reiterated that a water sonogram is what he will do. I would like to ask him about this again, and about implantation factors, when I see him in about a month for the next consult. I know he and the ARC doctor believe it is probably the quality that has prevented implantation, and I keep reminding myself that the HSG is probably not going to change our decision tree anyway. I will try not to dwell on it anymore. K loved her experience at Duke, and that means a lot, and their outcomes are as high, even a slight bit higher, than SG.

Another thing I have decided, in addition to going to Duke, is to buy just one round at a time. Though I intend to try IVF twice more, I do want to see how the first time goes. If it's really lousy or if by some miracle it works, maybe I will be glad I didn't pre-pay for two cycles. Also, if I hate it, I could always try a different clinic. I do not think I'd have the energy to try a third place, but it's always an option. A friend of a friend mentioned the Colorado Clinics. Their outcomes are amazing, like in the 70% success range (versus Duke's 50-ish% and my old clinic's 38%) but so are their prices, and again, there's the issue of being away from home, and even worse, without my family. No, with B's school and work, it's just not an option.

I should get back to work now, but I wanted to give an update. For now, I got my period yesterday, and I'm just supposed to complete a regular, unmedicated cycle. Then I go back to Duke and do the testing, and prepare for a January start. Maybe it's the consults and the upsetting SG talk, or the fact that I got my period , or that B is always busy with school and so I'm alone again a lot, but the past few days have been really hard for me. Although Duke gave me hope, and really all three of them had hopeful outlooks, I do feel pretty pessimistic. I feel that we're going to spend a ton of money and time and emotional output on two more cycles, only to be child-less, poorer, and bitter (in my case, not sure about B). But, I also am not ready to give up. It's a tough place to be in and I am just glad for the break, for Ecuador in December, and for K's unending support and companionship throughout all this. I can't believe that she is moving and I will have to do this on my own in January, but that's another problem to dwell on another day.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

First New Consult

The last week and a half have been really busy. I was away for work and to see my dad, and then caught a terrible cold. I came home last Thursday night, really sick, and then had my first consult on Friday afternoon. I was in a bit of a daze due to the head cold, but still went to the appointment of course.

I really liked ARC- I'll just use initials here, but you can probably figure it out if you wanted to. It's a brand new clinic, located in the Brier Creek area. It feels like a spa, all bamboo floors and frosted panes and very calming, and the attention was very personalized and friendly. I liked Dr. C a lot, and the staff (with the exception of the bitchy and confusing financial lady). Downside: it is not cheap. And a real pain to drive to from my house. And untested, as it's new, although both doctors come from Duke and are highly regarded. 

The doctor confirmed that I have a fabulous AMH, equivalent to a 30 year old's, but that in practice my eggs suck. Both in quantity and quality. At least we think they do- I have had such small sample sizes, that it's hard to judge anything much. But the quantity problem is obvious, and the fragmentation is a problem she identified. I am a good candidate for egg donation, as my old doctor was pushing, but this doctor also said she has no reason to recommend against trying the antagonist protocol or flare. I have only ever done Lupron downregulation and that sure didn't work. 

I am officially a "low responder" and limited by my one functioning ovary, so I'm probably just going to waste a ton of money and emotional energy on this, but since when was fertility treatment a rational thing???  I do feel unresolved. As the doctor pointed out, I will walk away after all this with either a baby or the thought that I tried everything I could. She recommends doing an antral follicle count and then choosing which of the two protocols, and taking some time off the pill before beginning in January. She referred to the antagonist protocol as "gentler" and I do have to say I am glad to not have to do Lupron again. She also mentioned human growth hormone, and I want to ask her about assisted hatching, if I do go with ARC.

Anyway, I have not made any decision, and have a consult at Duke on Thursday and a phone consult with Shady Grove on Friday. I am curious as to whether they agree with Dr. C at ARC, or agree with my previous doctor who told me to give it up and try donor eggs. My husband is completely consumed with the business school program he started last month and pretty much absent from this whole process. K has actually been coming with to appointments, which is strange but perhaps the nicest thing anyone not related to me has done. I'm kind of puzzled but grateful to have the support. 

So. I'm doing shitty on paper, but I'm actually not feeling depressed or weepy at all. Amazing what being off the hormones will do for ya. Also we are going to Ecuador for the holidays, just me and B, so I have something fun to look forward to! Then I get to come home and deal with whatever I have chosen to do in January. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

New Strategy

Today I spoke with a friend of a friend, who did IVF. She also sent an email about how she chose her clinic, and a different friend of a friend sent a similar email.

I realize how I wasn't as smart about picking a clinic as I could have been. I went with mine because it was so geographically convenient, and because I knew the doctor there and felt comfortable, and because I naively thought that I'd get lucky without too much work, being young and relatively healthy and all that.

This time, I am doing all the research the two friends recommended, and that I should have done right from the start.

The best numbers come from Duke and Shady Grove. I compared 5 clinics including my own. I was foolish not to have done this before. I let the convenience and comfort of going somewhere I knew let me waste my time and money. I am going into this with a different attitude now.

I will call UNC on Monday and get my medical records. I will call both clinics on Monday, and also the new one that was started by the Duke physicians that my friend liked (and whose work contributed to Duke's high success rates in the past). I will go to all three and show them my medical records, along with a concise summary of what meds I took, what dosages, my follicle count each day, and my estrogen. I will ask what they would have done differently and what they would do if I came to their clinic. I will very carefully ask what their honest thoughts are on my past two cycles and my prognosis and chances of success if I do two more. I will take very careful notes, ask all my questions, and not get intimated.

For now, I will still consider adoption but temporarily put it on the back burner. If my dad's  adoption attorney friend can meet with us, great, but I think I have plenty of work interviewing the three clinics already. I am looking forward to hearing from the adoption foundation people at Tuesday's support group meeting. But I just don't feel at peace with stopping the IVF. 

This is a lot to think about, but although I obsessed about all this last time, I don't think I asked the right questions all the time. I hope I'm on a better path now. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Not Willing to Let Go

I always thought I'd know when to quit. Logically, it makes sense to stop the hamster wheel, get off this train, whatever. I had two lackluster cycles and we're out about $10K already on treatment and medications. It's drained us emotionally, physically has been tough, and has affected me at work. B is entering a really stressful next two years as he starts business school. We're worried about money all the time due to his tuition. It probably makes sense to take our limited funds and spend them on a sure bet, adoption, rather than continue on a very unsure bet, more IVF.


I cannot force myself to feel that I am done with IVF. I only had two tries, and I have never felt good about my clinic's care. I also feel that if I gave my left ovary some more time, perhaps it would play ball, as the doctor says.

I see that it's about $10K for two tries at NCCRM. They have better outcomes than my clinic. I always wished I'd started there instead.

I know that I was feeling okay about adoption, but I'm not really. I'm just not.

I think that I should meet with Dr. F one last time (appointment is scheduled for next Friday) and also have a consult at NCCRM. Bring my records and ask them what they would do differently. What my chances are like, with two more tries. Ask them if I were their daughter or if they were me, would they keep fighting this seemingly uphill battle, or would they put their funds towards adoption instead.

I should call NCCRM. I should just do it. I know B is not in favor of this, but he is not totally opposed either. And perhaps I could use my own savings a bit. I know it's supposed to be there for an emergency, but this seems like one.

Or should I just let.... go?

Torture. Plain and simple. Torture.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Most Depressing Post Ever

This morning I found out that I am not pregnant. 

I thought today couldn't get any worse, but suddenly, everything has. 

We have been kicked out of the Attain program. We get $9000 back.

B has announced that he is done with medical intervention and the doctors, tests, treatments, and drugs. If we want to continue another round of IVF, we'll have to use our whole $9000 refund plus a lot more for a single cycle and drugs and ICSI, and then only have a 50/50 chance anyway. With the not so good outcomes of both of my cycles so far (low egg count, low fertilization even with ICSI, and nothing to freeze either time, never even made it to day 3 transfer, etc.), he says it's wiser to take the $9000 refund and put it towards adoption, which is a safer bet than another $10,000 plus on a 50/50 chance at best. 

I think, logically, he is correct. But I am in shock. I had forgotten Attain could kick us out, and never really considered what it would mean.

I am not sure how someone processes these thoughts, so I have decided to do nothing for the time being. I just never considered how it would feel to Stop. Like, I will never, ever get "accidentally" pregnant when we stop "trying" because I am going back on the pill and never coming off of it, which is what my doctor recommends due to my endometriosis. So, this is it, perhaps.

Not sure there is anything that can be said, but I guess the adoption people coming to our Tuesday RESOLVE meeting could not have picked better timing when it comes to me.

Worst. Day. Ever. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

All Better... and Hopeful?

So yesterday I woke up and was 90% better. Still a tiny backache but absolutely no cramps. Today is Saturday (10 dpo 8dpt) and I feel fine. It was probably nothing, or gas and an unrelated sore back, but of course I have wild hopes that it was implantation cramping.

We're off to the mountains this weekend to meet my parents, so hopefully that will be a good distraction. We come home Monday night, Tuesday I have a busy day at work, and Wednesday is test day! I am excited yet dreading it at the same time... Oh well, off to enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Yesterday, around noon, I started having very mild cramping. Last night, it got worse. Not terrible, but bad enough that I would have taken painkillers if I weren't too worried not to. Also, sometime overnight, my back started to ache pretty badly. Today at work, the cramps mostly subsided, but the back ache got pretty bad. I sat at my desk with a heating pad for most of the day.

This evening, the back is feeling better, but now the cramps are occasionally happening again. I was terrified last night that this all means my period is coming. It would be really sad to get a negative next Wednesday, but I will be totally devastated if I don't even make it to next Wednesday. If I get my period early and all my chances are lost due to my damn luteal phase defect, I will be so upset. Last time, last cycle, the progesterone was perfect. I had like a 16 or 17 day luteal phase. I am only on 8dpo 6dpt, so this better not be my period. It's possible the cramps are gas (though I don't think so) and the back ache... just unrelated? Or could the cramping be a good sign, perhaps?

I don't know, but I'm pretty upset and anxious. Last time, I had no symptoms, so there was nothing to hyper-analyze.

I hope I wake up tomorrow and feel totally fine. We will see.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Update During the 2WW

I'm not sure why I stopped writing two weeks ago. This blog has been so helpful in expressing my hopes and fears and frustrations during my fertility troubles. This cycle was really hard, much harder than the first one, so that might be some of it. I've also been busier than usual, both at work and socially. Finally, having K to talk to has made venting on the blog not as necessary this time around. We have a little email chain going around for five of us in the RESOLVE group, and having people to give me this support has been so invaluable.

To update: when I last wrote, I'd gone to the Thursday appointment and had a low number of follicles, and a very low estrogen of 120. My first cycle, to compare, it was 362 on that day. They upped my dose and told me to come back Sunday. I went, and still only had a sad four follicles of large enough size. That explains why  my estrogen had been so low the whole time. In my first cycle, I had 8-10 playing ball, and this time I had 4-5. Part of it is that the first cycle I had 11 antral follicles to start with, and this time I had only 8. So I had fewer to start with, and they grew more slowly, I don't know why.

I was crying after Sunday's ultrasound, after I'd been told to come back again the next day and to see my actual doctor, who would make the final call on cancelling the cycle or going forward with triggering. In the middle of crying, I suddenly see B's eyes roll back in his head and he slumps, slowly, to the ground. I began to scream and cry, thinking that with my luck, he surely was dead. It was horrible! He hit a table that hit a wall, plus I was screeching, so the door to the exam room bursts open and two more doctors rush in. So we've got me, hyperventiling and pants-less on the table, a fellow and a resident in the room, a doctor and a fellow rushing in, and poor B passed out on the floor. Well, of course he was okay. He came to, and they wheeled him out on a stretcher, deciding that he'd just had a vasovagal response and he wasn't going to die! We were kept there for another 2 hours or so, monitoring his vitals, but he was feeling better and we eventually got to go home.

What an ordeal.

So, we go back on Monday, and Dr. F is ribbing him a bit, giving him a "special chair" to sit on during my ultrasound. By then we could all laugh about it. One more crazy adventure in this fertility mess. Anyway, Dr. F did what I had always thought he'd do: let us trigger that night, since I had 4 decently sized follucles. My estrogen was in the 400s on Sunday, and had risen to 679 on Monday. So, we triggered Monday night.

I didn't get sick at all on Wednesday morning, unlike the first time around. I don't know if it's because I had less estrogen in me, or if the first time it was a lot of nerves that caused it. In any case, I was okay, and retrieval last Wednesday (September 19th) went fine. Dr. F was very careful, he told B, and managed to get all 4 mature follicles.

I got the call on Thursday morning that of the 4, only 2 had fertilized. This was lower than we had hoped. So we trooped back in, depressed and sad, on Friday for transfer. No sense in waiting for a three day transfer when we only had two embryos anyway. However, we got words of hope when we arrived. Dr. F and the embryologist- mostly the embryologist- explained that last time I'd had 3 cell embryos, and this time I had a 4 cell and a 6 cell. Much better!

Also, there was something different during this transfer. Maybe because it was Dr. F and not unpersonable, cold Dr. M, who did it last time. But this time... instead of being as scared, and being wary of pain from the catheter (which I never had), B and I actually watched the monitor screen. Dr. F encouraged us too. He explained each thing that was happening, and we saw the catheter slowly deposit the embryos into my uterus. B and I both teared up. Something felt so special this time. It felt really like our possible babies on that screen we were watching. I cried, and cried even more afterwards, as the embryologist told us we had such strong embryos, especially the 6 cell one on a day 2 transfer. She and Dr. F both held my hands, and wished me the best luck they could. The last thing she said to me, as I tried not to all-out bawl, was: "This is your time." Even typing this now, I feel tears coming. I know they did the best they could, and it's just up to luck and chance now.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Not good

Just sent this to my support group friends, and didn't see a need to write anything new for this blog. I think this about sums it up:

As you all know, my day 4 estrogen was only 42. Last cycle, it was 99, and the clinic wants to see it 150 or above. 

We upped my dose from 225 to 375 units of Follistim. That comes to... oh, $350 a night, not including any other drug. Fun.

Well I went in today for another check at 7:30 am and they JUST called back, and I'm still only at 120 estrogen. Not good. I knew it wasn't good when they hadn't called me all day.

They don't want me to come back till Sunday, when we will check again and decide whether to cancel the cycle or not. I only have 8 antral follicles and last time I had 11 at this time. Things are looking pretty bad. Meanwhile, I get to spend another $1000 on the Follistim. I wonder if I lose one of my Attain "tries" even if this is cancelled?

The whole thing totally sucks and there is nothing I can do. Sunday seems a long way off. Happy weekend to me. 

I have nothing positive to say. That's my update. My body hates me.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Day 5: Not a Good Day

Yesterday I got bad news. At 3:45 pm, the nurse FINALLY called me back with my blood work (probably though  not definitely because I sent a worried email to her right before that). Since I started on 225 IU of Follistim, instead of 175 like last cycle, I assumed my estrogen would be higher than 99, which is what it was last time. They like to see it 150 or above.

Well, it wasn't higher. In fact, despite my higher dosage, it was pathetically lower. Only 44. 44! How could that be??? I almost cried on the phone with the nurse, but she was short with me and not helpful. I went to K's house and it was good to see her and to go to the RESOLVE support group, but I was distressed all night long. I cried and yelled at B several times on the phone (he was still out of town; he came home very late last night/early this morning).

After a much interrupted night of sleep, due to B coming in at 5 am, the cat's usual nonsense, and my inability to fall back asleep due to nerves, I couldn't take it anymore at 1 pm and finally emailed Dr. F. He reassured me by writing: "Thank you for your message.  I am sorry that the test result yesterday upset you so.  Yes, it was a bit lower than expected, based on your pattern of response not so long ago, but certainly there also are fluctuations and variations from cycle to cycle.  Please understand that the whole purpose of the day 4 estrogen level is to afford us an early opportunity to intervene and adjust where necessary to optimize your overall response to stimulation.  Needless to say, I will look forward to seeing what your visit reveals tomorrow, but I honestly believe that the likelihood of recommending a cycle cancellation tomorrow is very small.  I fully expect your estrogen level to rise significantly and will be quite surprised if it does not. 
I hope that this information is helpful to you.  I look forward to seeing the outcome of your visit tomorrow." [my emphasis added]

So I calmed down after that. I just keep repeating to myself, "the likelihood of recommending a cycle cancellation tomorrow is very small." That has to be my mantra if I am going to get any sleep tonight and not have a total stomach ache when I get up in the morning. Luckily, my appointment is at 7:30 am, so I don't have long to wait.

In other news, K's beta doubled! She is really pregnant! I am so happy and relieved for her. This IVF thing really does work for some people....

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Round 2, Day 4, Down in the Dumps

I've had three nights of the stims so far. My belly is sore. Much more than last time, or maybe I just don't remember it. Worse, I'm not doing very well. I'm much more emotional and depressed and hopeless than last cycle. I guess last time I was super hopeful and nervous, and the adrenaline kept me going. This time, after one failure, I am slogging through it, not feeling motivated and buoyed by hope. Just depressed and bitter and angry and sad.

It doesn't help that B has been in California since Friday morning. I've been alone since then, and staying busy with friends, but it's not the same kind of support. I am thrilled that K is pregnant, and we're emailing still, and even went for a walk on Sunday, but her pregnancy has made me more despondent about my own failure last time, and worried that if I don't have success this time, I won't have the support that I've had from her going through this the same time as me.

I did my day 4 bloodwork this morning and I'm waiting somewhat anxiously for them to call back. Hopefully the higher dose of Follistim to start will have made a difference and I'll have some more eggs this time. But it's really the ICSI that we need to work. That was really our problem last time (or so we think).

I'm just so weepy all the time. I read a magazine, I watch a movie, and I'm bawling all over myself. I'm having trouble sleeping because I can't turn my brain off from running in the same negative circles. I'm getting more upset about other things that wouldn't bother me quite as much. I think it's a mixture of emotions I'd be having anyway on a second IVF, plus the hormone swings from all the drugs. I have to remember that I am on a higher dose this time, and two weeks of Lupron at this point as well.

So, waiting on bloodwork, support group tonight, then B gets home very late. I'm glad he'll be back to be with me for the second half of the stims, and I hope that this cycle is the one for us. I don't know how I will get out of bed from now on if it is not. I really don't.

See? I'm hopeless and melodramatic. I realize it, but I feel unmotivated to try to be any different. Blegh.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

First Night of Stims (Round Two)

I woke up this morning to amazing news. K is pregnant! She is my good friend that I met through RESOLVE, and I've been talking to her and hanging out together throughout her entire cycle. I have been hoping and hoping things would work out for her, and they did! Sometimes it is hard to believe that IVF works for anyone, with all the months I've met women struggling with infertility, but K had success her very first try. I am slightly jealous, but more just totally happy and overjoyed for her and her husband. It's so wonderful for someone to have good news for once. Yay for her!

She is totally convinced it's a good omen for me, and last weekend while visiting B's friends in Brooklyn, Stacey was sure that being pooped on by a bird (!) and being around all the preggers people in her neighborhood would somehow wear off on me. Hm! I don't know about that, but I'll take what I can get.

Tonight was the first night of stims. I don't know if I will be on here as much as in last cycle. I feel less hopeful, but then again, K's positive today has sparked something in me again. I definitely feel less nervous, since I've done all this before and there aren't any surprises or fears that I had my first cycle. I will just do what I'm supposed to do, and hope and pray that it works. And if not, well, I have one more fresh cycle at least. Sigh.

The whole thing is very tiring. Fertility really does consume so much time and energy. The last month of taking a break has been a relief, though I am ready and grateful to be starting the process again. Here's to a successful second round!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Second Try

Last night I took my first Lupron shot. We're starting again. It's been four weeks since my negative pregnancy test. It's been a nice break, but I'm also ready to start again.

If we don't have success this time, I don't know what I will do. I really don't.

Things that we're doing differently:
-higher dosage of Follistim, right to start
-I'm taking the whole week off of work during the retrieval/transfer time. I might work at home a couple of those days, but I am not going into the office. I will stay home and rest and try to be peaceful.

Probably the ICSI will make the biggest difference.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Bit Better Today

Yesterday morning I was really blue, but the sadness has started to lift a bit. A few reasons for this:

1. The nurse called yesterday afternoon, and was actually friendly and helpful. Not the regular IVF nurse, but someone else. In any case, she told me she is renewing all my prescriptions because Dr. F has given the go-ahead to start the Lupron again in a couple of weeks. We'll talk to him on Friday about scheduling, due to B's trip to Cali and the possible need to delay for one week, but the nurse didn't seem to feel like this will be a major problem or cause a big delay. She said we might be able to start Lupron one week later or stay on it an extra week, or we could talk about freezing B's sperm so he doesn't even have to be there. Another idea B and I discussed is him just flying back Monday night instead of Tuesday night. There are options, and none of them are waiting a whole more month, so I feel much better. It's the waiting that is so hard, but having the broad outlines of a plan and the feeling of getting back on the horse make it all feel more.. pro-active.

2. We went out to a really nice dinner last night, because we had a Groupon that was about to expire. Last week we were way too sad to use it, but we were feeling ready by yesterday. We had drinks and dinner, and managed to get through almost the whole meal without discussing IVF or fertility. Then we came home and for the first time in about a month, felt like going to bed together. We'd been too depressed and preoccupied to really relax until yesterday. It was very nice, and helped me to feel close to B again in a way that I'd almost forgotten about. It's nice to feel like the pre-IVF me sometimes again.

3. A woman from the Resolve group emailed me, as she's about to start her first IVF cycle and would like to get some reassurance, since I just did it. She is also here in my town (most of my group members live further away) and so we're going to get drinks tomorrow evening. It's always nice to feel like I'm not going through this alone, so I'm looking forward to this, and having a new friend that actually understands this in a way that my non-fertility challenged friends and family never can.

I should get back to work now, but I am looking forward to meeting with Dr. F on Friday and getting a real plan. Till then, I'm staying busy with work and friends. It's going to be okay... and maybe the second time is the charm.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Down In the Dumps

It's been almost a week since my negative pregnancy test(s). I am pretty depressed.

I haven't wanted to talk to hardly anyone about this. I emailed my friends who knew, and my parents, and told them I don't want to talk about it. I haven't made an appointment with my therapist. I just don't have anything positive to say, so who wants to hear it.

On the up side, we have an appointment with Dr. F on Friday morning. Maybe I will feel more upbeat when we have a new game plan. But I just don't see how we can do anything soon, with our New York trip over Labor Day and B's five day trip to California the next weekend. I guess we will have to wait, and I just feel so hopeless and depressed when we're waiting. If B insists on going to this bachelor party and we have to wait another month, I am going to lose it. Maybe that won't be an issue. Scheduling and timing is always so dependent on my clinic.

I'm exercising, eating okay, and getting sleep. Doing all the things I should be, but just feeling angry, bitter, and hopeless. Easily irritated too. B's parents were here this weekend and I wanted to strangle them sometimes. But I normally feel that way, so I guess that's no big change. My mom and aunt arrive on Friday night. What a time for visitors.

Anyway, nothing else to say. I'm just miserable and sad and feel very hopeless about my life. B is about to start school in October and I thought I'd have a baby by now to keep me company. Everyone is having babies and posting baby photos on FB and I am still here, where I was 19 months ago. Life is so unfair.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Not Pregnant

I couldn't wait any longer, and I tested yesterday before going to the clinic for my official test. Both tests were negative. 

We are both really crushed. I know I have up to two more tries (bought a package) but I really had hope that this first time would be the magic solution. Instead, nothing went right, and then we had a surprise twist and they managed to get two embryos into me... and neither one worked. I spent thousands on drugs and have been shooting myself up daily for six weeks now, all for nothing. I have been trying to get pregnant for well over a year and a half now and I'm just really sick of it and angry and don't understand the unfairness of it all. Most things in life, if you want it, if you try, you can make some kind of changes. I feel so helpless with this, because I have done SO MUCH and gone through countless surgeries, invasive exams, and changing my life to accommodate shots and tests, and I have nothing to show for it at all, except a general distrust of many people and a growing bitterness.

I didn't go to work yesterday and today I am working at home. I don't want to actually talk to anyone about this yet, so I'm just avoiding everyone. Eventually I'll feel better. It comes and goes. 

I know I should make an appointment with my therapist lady but I think I am not quite ready. I don't think there are easy answers for any of what I feel, and all I can do is be positive (hard right now) and try again, and also start thinking about an end date after which I need to stop trying, accept it, and move on with my life. In which case, I need to make some serious changes because it all feels rather empty right now, but I haven't had the emotional space to want to try to change it while dealing with all the fertility stuff. B and I started talking about all this yesterday, but it's not easy. Right now, I am just so tired, so angry, and so sad. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Omg Less Than One More Day

It's Monday, 4:14 pm. In less than 24 hours, I will have my pregnancy test results.

I've been doing okay till today. Now I am nervous. Real nervous. My head feels a little buzzy. I bet that if I took my blood pressure it would be high. I feel on edge.

I am going in for the bloodwork at 9 am. I don't think I will test earlier. Although it would be good to kill the suspense, I almost want to prolong getting any bad news. Is that weird? At the same time, I am SUPER eager for it to be tomorrow afternoon already.

I still have all the same symptoms, nothing new. No spotting, no back pain, no cramps. Same old sore breasts, perpetual hunger, and mild fatigue. It's the progesterone, and that's all it is.

How do I get through the next 20-ish hours? 12 if you minus sleeping (if I can sleep)? And even harder, how do I get through tomorrow, from when I'm back in the office by 9:30 to when they call, which could be anytime from 11am to 1 pm or later. That is sure to be pure and utter torture. Maybe I should test at home tomorrow morning. I don't know.

Plan to stay busy tonight:
-make a nice dinner (roasted eggplant and chickpea dish)
-go for a long walk
-maybe watch something on Netflix
-try to relax!

Next time I post, I will be so sad or over the moon with happiness. I don't know if I have ever wanted anything so much in my entire life.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

One Week Down, One Week To Go

I haven't been posting lately because I don't have much to say. My transfer was almost a week ago (last Thursday morning), and my test day is just under a week from now (next Tuesday morning). I am still doing Progesterone shots every night, which is a huge (literal) pain in the ass. 1 1/2 inch needles are just no fun. My tush is so sore that it's hard to lie down or get up from that position, and I can feel it in every step I take. Still, we are being good about taking hour long walks most evenings. I am avoiding my regular weights and cardio classes at the gym, so the walking is helpful in moving around and relieving stress.

Overall, my stress levels have been totally manageable. Because the progesterone creates pregnancy symptoms and I know it's just the medication, there is none of the hyper-analyzing and second-guessing that I normally have done during the two week waits. I know it's all from the shots, and so I don't freak out.

What I do: EAT. I am so hungry, and so often! Also, not to be gross, but they weren't kidding when they warned me about constipation. But, not so bad. The hunger and tiredness and sore boobs are more noticeable. Also, the morning sickness continues, though not every morning and not terrible.

B and I are just hoping and wishing so much for good news on Tuesday. Till then, I'll try not to dwell on things too much, and just hope for the best. Only six more nights and then... test day.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Transfer Day: Cautiously Optimistic

Yesterday was awful. The doctor was supposed to call in the morning, but I didn't hear from him till 1:55 pm. He sounded really sad, and told me that of the 6 eggs harvested, only 1 was fertilized. One! One! He said it is likely a sperm problem, and next time, we should do ICSI, but there is nothing they can do for us now. Instead of waiting for 3 or 5 days, since I only had one anyway, he asked us to come in this morning for the transfer.

Last night was pretty bad. We were both so sad. 

Anyway, I went in this morning and they told me they had some good news: after they called me yesterday, 1 more fertilized. It was super slow which isn't a good sign for implantation, but they transferred them both into me this morning. There was nothing to freeze at all.

So, not very great news, but at least we had something. I was a poor responder, and we have sperm problems that we didn't know about. Oh well.

That's my update. Kind of numb and sleepy right now, so I'm skipping work and vegging out on the couch. This progesterone makes me sore and tired and so hungry. But I am grateful and calm, and hope I can remain that way for the next 12 days.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Retrieval Day

My retrieval was today. But before that, I woke up at 4:30 am with the worst nausea I've had in years. I barely made it to the bathroom, and then I had to get my husband up because I couldn't walk back to bed. I was freaking out, thinking I'd gotten sick and couldn't do the retrieval. Well, once I told the IVF nurse, she didn't even think it was a big deal, and said many people get morning sickness from the HCG shot I took on Sunday night to trigger. Um, thanks crappy clinic. You could have warned me! I really thought I had the flu and my cycle would be cancelled.

Anyway, today was super easy, no pain at all, and the twilight sleep didn't knock me out but made me not care or feel anything. I only got 6 eggs though. I don't know why such a low number, but I will ask when the embryologist calls in the morning. I am trying to remain hopeful but I feel like it's such a low number, when I keep reading online that some people get so many more. Oh well.

That's my update. I slept from around noon to 6:30 tonight, and feel like I could sleep some more. But the nurse said tomorrow the anesthetic will have worn off. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Trigger Day!

Today has been very emotional. We woke up and went to the doctor for another 8 am appointment, and as usual, had to wait for about 45 minutes to see anyone. It makes me so mad. Why not tell half of the women to come at 8 am and half of us at 8:30? My clinic has serious issues and doesn't care about wasting our time at all.

Anyway, we finally got to the ultrasound and Dr. F said today is the day! I was surprised- I really thought we'd go one more day. I have one 16.5 or 17.5 follicle on the left, lazy side, and 9 follicles on the right: from 11.5 to 18.5. At least 4-6 that were of really good size.

I asked about my bum left ovary, and the Fellow said that it's really poorly performing, but it might not in the future. She said there is no real good data on how long to wait for an ovary to recover. But she said that having 9 good ones on my right is amazing, since even with a 21 year old donor they'd be happy with 18 follicles, which is what I'd have if my left side were working. So, at least I am a good responder, once they adjusted my Follistim anyway.

My bloodwork came back a little low, at 1575 for the estrogen. But they still want to do this. I met with the Fellow and received instructions. Tonight at 11 pm we give me the trigger, the HCG shot. No more stims. Nothing tomorrow at all, but Tuesday I go in at 9 am for the retrieval.

I've been very emotional, which the blood draw nurse said is to be expected. My estrogen is high, as well as all the other hormones coursing through me. But, mostly, I think I'm just freaked out that it's actually time. We're actually here, at retrieval. As scary as all the shots were and the early ultrasounds, soon it will be all over, and it will just be waiting to see how the eggs fertilize or not. And then, just as scary, waiting to see if any implant and I'm pregnant in two weeks and two days from now.

I can do this. I can get through this. And I can do it again, if I have to.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Getting Close!

Today is Saturday, but we had to go in at 8 am for another ultrasound and bloodtest. We're getting so close! My follicles have grown to be between 11 and 15.5 mm, and I have 8 on my right ovary, and only 1 on my left ovary. My left ovary is not cooperating, probably due to trauma from the endo and the surgery I had in March. But the one follicle there is one of the biggest, at 15.5 mm. I think there are a couple that size on the right ovary too.

My estrogen has also soared, from 362 on Thursday to 1187 today. Wow! Quite a jump, though he says it is consistent with the growth of the ovaries.

They want to see me again tomorrow at 8 am. Either tomorrow or Monday will be trigger day, which means tonight could be my last night of meds. Or tomorrow night. I have a feeling we'll go one more day, but who knows. I could have a growth spurt tonight or something.  It would be nice if tomorrow is it, because I could save that $500 vial of Follistim I bought. I could use it next cycle (if there has to be one) or make a very nice gift of it to someone in my support group.

Dr. F says I am low in the number of follicles, since my left ovary is mostly out of the picture. However, he didn't seem concerned. Since I am young, he thinks we'll get good eggs from the follicles I do have. He said the minimum they'd want is 4 to do a retrieval, and I do have 9 decently sized ones. So I am feeling quite happy and grateful and hopeful.

Please, please, please. I have been through so much this past 18 months. A year and a half of getting my hopes up every month, 8 months of Clomid and 2 of Femara, one laparoscopy surgery, one cancelled IVF cycle, and now an almost complete IVF cycle. Please, let me be pregnant from this.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ultrasound #1: Moving Ahead

This morning was my first ultrasound since starting the IVF meds. I've had five nights of the shots so far. I'm currently taking 225 units of Follistim, 75 of Menopur, and 5 units of Lupron. I was only on 150 of Follistim but that changed two nights ago, when my e levels were low on Tuesday's blood test.

Today went pretty well! My ultrasounds showed six decently sized follicles on the right ovary, and one on the left. That's the side I had the cyst and the endometriosis on, and I guess that ovary is still unhappy. Anyway, the six on the right side are pretty good, all ranging from 9-11 mm. There are two largest, 11 mm ones. Is it mm? I am not sure.

Dr. F says that I am not a great responder, although I am not doing poorly either. Overall he seemed quite pleased with where I am. After all, we only need one great egg (though I'd like to have more to freeze).

Right now, we're on track for only three to four more nights of stims, and a retrieval next Tuesday or Wednesday (today is Thursday). I am still waiting on my e level from the blood test this morning, but I'll probably not change my meds again. Most likely I will go back on Saturday morning and then we'll know more about a retrieval date, I think.

So, feeling relieved- I was nervous, as usual. I was so worried because of my e level being low last time. I hope it's risen- but most importantly, today I had decent follicles. And I'll only be on the drugs 8-9 days, instead of 12, which also pleases me.

More news later, when I hear back from the nurse about the estrogen level.

UPDATE: my estrogen jumped from 99 on Tuesday to 362 today! The nurse sounded very pleased. We go back in another two days, Saturday, for more blood work and another ultrasound. Feeling great!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Big Medication Mess-Up

We had a pretty rough time yesterday.

First, at work I learned that my estrogen levels were too low. We bumped up my dosage of the Follistim, and I had to re-fill my prescription. Another $508, thankyouverymuch. Thanks, estrogen that didn't rise the way it was supposed to.

Then, I went to the dentist to have a small cavity filled, and learned it's actually going to need a root canal. Wonderful. And I can't get it done for two more weeks. Luckily I am not in pain.

After work, we had trouble with the new Follistim dose. The pen let us dial up to 225 units, even though according to my math there should have only been enough medication for 150 units. This caused me to freak out. I ended up calling a pharmacist, who assured me that if the pen let us dial that much, it was available. It's so weird, but apparently the vials often have overflow. 75 units worth!?!?! The whole pen was only supposed to have 600 units, but it had 675!?!? Bizarre, and utterly mind-boggling. Each vial is $508, by the way. Fun times.

Anyway, once I was calmed down after the pharmacist's reassurance, I got in the car to go to the RESOLVE meeting. And, because nothing could be easy in my life yesterday, the Engine Malfunction light went on. Screw it. I drove to Cary anyway. I made it there, and home, with pouring down rain to boot. The car is going into the shop tomorrow. Sigh. But it's my sister's car so hopefully my dad will pay for the repairs.

And just when I thought it couldn't continue on this way, I watched someone else at the meeting do their Menopur, and something seemed... different. There was also a weird reaction when I was saying how big the needle was for me. At home, before bed, I consulted the instructions sheet. I learned that we've been doing the injections with the wrong needle! Instead of switching to a 1/2 inch needle, we've been using a 1 1/2 inch needle for the last four nights! No wonder it hurt so much!!! I was really, really upset- like all out, bawling. I'd been doing an intramuscular injection rather than a subcutaneous, and I was terrified that it might have messed up my cycle or my dosage. I was angry at the pharmacy for it's confusing packaging and lack of labelling, UNC for not having a real medication class ("just watch the videos"), myself for missing the instructions, and the nurse for the terribly written instructions. HANDWRITING a 1 1/2 so that it looked like   a 1/2 is really inexcusable.

Well, to finish this up, I talked to the nurse today and she just acted like I'm dumb, which infuriated me. This is REALLY complex for someone with no experience mixing and administering medications, and they really could have made this easier, for the THIRTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS we're paying for this damn thing. You know?

Anyway, no harm is done, other than my very sore belly. For the next few nights, I've been told to let my tummy recover, and use the thigh for a while.

Tomorrow is my first ultrasound since starting the meds, and more bloodwork. I hope to have good news.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Day 4, and Bloodwork

I went in this morning, after three days of the shots, to get my bloodwork done. I had the blood drawn at 8 am, and the IVF nurse called just before 1 pm. My estrogen is low- around 99, and they like it to be 150 or higher at this point. So, I'm upping my Follistim, but leaving everything else the same. I need to order another Follistim this evening. Wonder how many hundreds and hundreds of dollars this will run me. Sigh. Oh well.

Anyway, my next visit is in two days- Thursday morning at 7:30 am. Another estrogen check, plus my first IVF ultrasound. I wonder what will be growing by then. This is all exciting!

In other news, tonight is the monthly RESOLVE support group meeting. I've been attending it since January, and it's been so helpful. B doesn't really like it- he feels reticent to talk to much about his feelings, and he has such a sunny outlook that he doesn't seem to need the support. But I find it very helpful to be able to recognize my feelings in what others say, and to get practical advice, and to learn about the different options and paths people are pursuing. I took over as facilitator recently, and put up a bunch of flyers at my clinic last week. Today someone new emailed me, as a result of the flyer, and I'm giving her a ride to the meeting tonight. I'm looking forward to the meeting this evening.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Day 3

Tonight will be the third night of injections.

Last night's shots weren't as bad as the first night. I still hate the "pen" for Follistim and the way it isn't a nice clean injection- B has to sort of jiggle it to inject all the medication, and it feels like the needle is moving around in me. And the Menopur is still such a huge needle that I can't even look at it, but the burning sensation last night wasn't as bad as the first night. Maybe I just knew what to expect.

After only two nights, my belly is already sore. I'm nervous about this. I still have 6-10 more nights! I am hoping that some of the soreness might just be from a hard workout at Body Pump last night. Maybe the abs work is contributing. In any case, last night was my last night at the gym for awhile. I am going to try walking at night when it cools off, but stay away from the strenuous classes that I enjoy so much at the gym. It's sad, but I don't want to take any risks. I'll ask the ladies at tomorrow night's support group about their experiences and how long they kept exercising.

Tomorrow is my first bloodwork, and I'm curious to see how my dosages will change. Hopefully they will give me an update, like to say if everything is proceeding as expected. I'll report back again tomorrow.

All of this feels very surreal. I can't believe it's really happening. Can you imagine just having sex and getting pregnant?? Crazy that it's all it takes for most lucky ducks.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

First Night of Shots

So we did the first night of shots, about an hour ago. It was not fun. The Lupron is just little diabetic needles and I find those easy, but these two new shots were a whole 'nother story. 

The Menopur has to be mixed- you have to combine two vials into one, and replace needles, and it all has to be sterile. The Follistim comes in a "pen" which has to be loaded and then "dialed" to the correct amount. The Follistim wasn't too scary but the Menopur had a HUGE needle! The needle hurt, and the liquid burned as it went in. It bled for several minutes afterwards, though just a little bit.

But I survived, and B is doing all the mixing and giving me the shots (except the Lupron, I can keep doing that one). Only 7-11 more nights!

Although none of this is fun, I am so relieved and grateful that we made it to this point. Last time around, when I had to have the surgery, was such a disappointment. I am full of hope that in 3-4 weeks, I could be pregnant.

Off to get ready to go out to dinner with friends now. Looking forward to the evening out.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Crazy Raging B*tch

Sorry for the bad language, but that's really how I've been feeling for the past few days.

When I last wrote, on Monday, I reported one crying episode in the airport, but said that otherwise I was feeling fine. That didn't last long. By Monday night, I was angry, sad, and irritable. That was after 7 nights of Lupron shots. I had a huge fight with my husband and said all kinds of mean things, even threatening to not continue the IVF cycle. Tuesday night we fought again. I really FELT mad, but with a little distance, I realize that my emotions are pretty out of control. I cried inconsolably Tuesday night, even missing the movie we'd planned to treat ourselves with since yesterday was a day off from work. 

Yesterday, the 4th of July, I did better. We stayed out most of the day, doing things with friends- an outdoors festival, and a cookout in the neighborhood, and then saw the movie that we missed on Tuesday night. Keeping busy gives me less time to listen to my Lupron-induced hormonal mess, which is definitely a good thing. 

The positive news is that I only have two more nights of the full 10 units of Lupron. On Saturday evening, I cut the dosage in half, while adding the Menopur and Follistim. I don't know how those will make me feel, but I don't think they have the same emotional effects. I hope.

Other than my hormonal induced craziness, I'm feeling pretty okay. I'm getting excited for Saturday, to start the "real" IVF drugs. Not that I want the drugs, but after a year and a half of infertility, and a year of being in treatment, and a false start to an IVF cycle over three months ago, I'm just so ready to get the show on the road. I just want this all to speed up, to get over with, and to come out on the other side with a happy result.  

Monday, July 2, 2012

Good News!

I was so nervous that I laid in bed for over an hour after B fell asleep, worrying about today's appointment. We got in bed at 10:30 pm and I remember looking at the clock and it was 11:30 pm and I was still awake. This morning I woke up at 6:10 am and I was a bundle of nerves and stomach pains.

BUT: it all went well! My ultrasound showed quiet ovaries and a good endometrium lining. My estrogen is fine too, although I wasn't as worried about that part. The good ultrasound has calmed me down. I received my list of medication instructions and am scheduled to start the new shots this upcoming Saturday, July 7th. My husband starts his pills then too, and I go in on Tuesday, July 10th for bloodwork. Retrieval will fall sometime between Sunday, July 15th and Thursday, July 19th. Transfer will be 3 or 5 days after that. Pregnancy test sometime the first week of August.

Feeling a sense of relief after many days/weeks of being on edge, hoping and wondering.

Also, feeling okay on the Lupron so far. It's only been 6 shots but I am doing okay. I had one small freak-out in the airport last night, after I messed up my injection (which I then corrected), but overall it's been fine. However, I felt okay till after day 6 or 7 last time and then I crashed down and became a hormonal, crying mess, so there's no telling what awaits me.

But for now, relief.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pregnancy Dreams

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been plagued by a series of scary, ominous pregnancy dreams. Sometimes they are dreams that I will never get pregnant, while last night I dreamed I was pregnant but couldn't go into labor fully. I don't sleep well when I have these dreams, and I don't know what they are trying to tell me. Probably nothing, just that it's always there, in my subconscious, the issues of pregnancy and infertility and my on-going treatment.

So far, I've had two shots of Lupron and I'm feeling fine. Last time, it took about a week to start feeling the effects.

We're leaving for Boston tomorrow morning, which will be a good distraction for the next three days. We come home Sunday night, and Monday at 7:30 am is my appointment. I've started to view it as the Day of Reckoning. Will I have another cyst? Will my cycle be cancelled? Will I need surgery or have to stay on the pill for another few months?

Or, to try to look on the positive side, will I go in and have a perfect ultrasound and bloodwork, and be told that I can go ahead and start the stimulants next Saturday night? Will I finally get to take that Menopur out of the package, and finally retrieve the Follistim from where it has rested in the tofu drawer of the fridge since this past February?

Wish me luck, and the next time I type here I hope to have encouraging news.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Today is my 32nd birthday. So far it's okay: massage, my favorite Vietnamese sandwich for lunch (Banh Mi), now home relaxing from the heat and packing for my DC trip tomorrow, and dinner out at one of my favorite restaurants tonight (Persian vegetarian food). I can even have a glass of wine with dinner, since I don't start the Lupron till next Tuesday evening.

I was worried about this birthday, since in my mind I always thought I'd have a baby by 32 years old. A reasonable thought, considering we started trying to conceive when I was only 30 1/2. It's been 18 long, slow months. And still no baby. But I'm starting Lupron on Tuesday, June 26th, and I go in for baseline the following Monday, July 2nd. I start stims on Saturday, July 7th, if everything is okay at baseline.

I am terrified everything will not be okay at baseline. Last time, in March, I got to baseline, and then they found the cyst, and then I had to stop IVF and have surgery instead. It was then that I was diagnosed with stage 3 endometriosis, which had consumed my left ovary and twisted my anatomy. It's been 3 months since that surgery, and I am praying that the endo has not come back and I can start the stims and all will go according to plan. I pray that my first round of IVF is successful.

Anyway, my laundry is done so I should go put it away and pack for my trip tomorrow. This weekend I go to DC, and next weekend is Boston, so hopefully I will stay busy enough that these worries won't occupy my mind so much. Worrying is paying a debt in advance that may never come true, as B says, but it's still hard not to do it.

Friday, June 15, 2012

More Cheerful

I don't really understand this, but I got my period yesterday evening and suddenly I am not quite as down as I was. I think it's the waiting that really gets to me. But now I got it, and I know I'm not pregnant, and I know I am doing IVF, and I can just move on mentally.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Waiting Game

Another month, another time of getting my hopes up, and another disappointment headed my way. Today is 12 dpo and yesterday I developed a mild ache in my lower back, and today I woke up with mild cramps and the continued back pain. Thanks for nothing, endo surgery and Clomid 100 mg. Thanks for nothing.

So, just waiting to get my full-fledged period and then I can call the nurse and get my new Lupron ordered, to start IVF this next cycle. I will follow the same protocol: count to day 20, then come in for bloodwork to see if I've ovulated. I probably will have, so then I start Lupron and wait till my next period comes (about 10 days, probably). That next Saturday, I go for more bloodwork and an ultrasound, and if it's all clear, then I can start the IVF drugs. 8-12 days of those, and then the retrieval. 3-5 days later, the transfer. Then, wait 8-11 days and do a pregnancy test.

I've already been in a terrible mood since last Saturday, and I'm sure it's not going to get much better. Or maybe it will improve, since I'll feel like I'm doing something. I'm just so scared that something will go wrong: that I'll get to baseline again, having taken Lupron for 12 days and been made a crazy lady, and then I'll have a cyst again and have to stop and wait 3 months, or have surgery again. I'm so terrified of that, and it's making me feel hopeless. I had to drag myself upstairs to even do laundry. I'm unmotivated and tired, and going on a record for how long we haven't had sex because I have no interest and am probably depressed. I'm irritable and just.. tired of it all.

But, work is okay, I've already half finished a huge project that isn't even due till later this summer, and my schedule is okay in July if I need to take some time off during the IVF process. While being at work is a good distraction in some ways, I also don't want to cry or break down like I did last time I was taking the Lupron. As a blog entry I wrote on March 19th says, "I just want to go to sleep for the next 4 weeks and not do ANYTHING. I am a disaster that should not be inflicted on the general public."

Anyway, hopefully it will not be that bad this time around. At least I have two weekend trips coming up, to take my mind off of things. One to DC, to see my family and friends. That will be nice. The second one to my husband's cousin's wedding. I am so not in the mood to deal with his little nieces and nephews and my in-laws, and I give myself permission to be quiet, be as bitchy as I want to in my head, and not pressure myself to be Ms. Cheerful.

And hopefully, time will fly, and in a couple of months I will have some happy news to take away from this last year and a half of struggle.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

We Are Everywhere

At the doctor's office on Friday (regular family doc) to get my stitches removed, the nurse noted which meds I am on, and noticed the Clomid. She asked about if I am pregnant, and I griped that no, I am not, and the Clomid sure isn't helping get my pregnant. She looked at me for awhile and then told me she'd tried for seven years. SEVEN years. She said she went to UNC also, and had IUIs, but never IVF. She wished me luck, and told me she thinks I will get pregnant (why??).

It was another reminder that although I feel surrounded by fertile people popping out babies at age 41 (my cousin, for one), there are plenty of sadder stories too. I'm not alone, though I feel like I am. The nurse who gave me my flu shot last fall and only ever had one baby after 2 1/2 years of trying, the nurse yesterday who had tried for seven years with no success. We are everywhere, and I hope that if I am a success story, I can figure out something to offer to other women and couples going through this horrible experience.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

CD 17: Ovulation At Last

So last month, with no Clomid, I got a positive ovulation test on day 16. This month, on Clomid, I expected something more like day 14 or 15. Instead, negative, negative, negative. I've been testing since last Saturday and today is Thursday! Finally, today, day 17, I think I got a positive, but still, I'm not 100% sure. I'll test again when I get home. I think I might have like two test strips left. Which won't matter, because I'm sick of this crap and going to do IVF next cycle. It's already planned for.

Other complications in my life are that I crashed on my scooter a couple of days ago. I'm sore and cut and have a few stitches in my chin. Trying to baby make was pretty much a joke last night (though it was accomplished) and I'm sure tonight will be the same. Bad timing but still worth doing!

In fertility land, the only other news is that I switched my DC flight to three weeks from now, since IVF will consume most of July and I won't be able to leave town then. Also, on Monday (Memorial Day) we went to a cook-out at the home of a couple from my support group. Another couple from the group, and one woman, were also there. It was okay: kind of depressing, as the support group always is, but also nice to see them outside of the hospital meeting room, and to remember not everyone is a fertile myrtle with no problems.

Anyway, I am not temping this month, due to our trip to Seattle and the time zone differences (and my cold last week and the accident this week wouldn't have helped either). So I guess we'll just try for a baby the next couple of nights and then call it quits. And wait for my period. Which always comes.