Heavy Hearts

It is with a heavy heart that I write today that Frostie’s cycle did not work out and we are not pregnant after Round 2 of IVF. Our one and only frozen embryo is gone. There aren’t really any words to describe what that feels like except that we are devastated.

The list of questions that I have is a million miles long right now. We’ve decided to take a break for the rest of 2016 and pick back up treatment in 2017. I will say that it was incredibly kind of my RE to call me directly to deliver the bad news, I’ve always had a nurse call and give it to me. I’ll be making a consult for sometime in December to go over next steps- which I’m assuming will include genetic screening for any future embryos that we might get.

Right now, we’re also trying to figure out what our limits are- it’s now pretty clear that not being able to have biological children is a real possibility for us and neither of us is sure how we feel about that. Physically, I think I could take a couple of more rounds of IVF and since we are lucky enough to live in a state that mandates fertility coverage, that’s an option, but emotionally, this is… A lot. To say the least.

While we’re doing our treatment break, we’ve decided to take dedicate November to a Month of Me. We’re going to live life like the young married couple that we are- sans all of the grief and stress that comes along with infertility. We’re going to practice self-care in some way or another every day and use the time surrounding the holidays to refocus on ourselves and each other. I hope to post a few times about what we’re doing in case anyone else would like some ideas on how to try and recover from a failed cycle.

Thank you so much for your well wishes and support during my FET, I’m incredibly grateful.

North of Wrigley (1)

Frostie the Snow-emby

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Introducing, the one, the only- Frostie! Hopefully currently nestling her way into a cozy spot in my uterus where she’ll stay for the next 9 months. (Again, I don’t know that it’s a “she” since we didn’t do genetic screening, I just have a feeling. 🙂 )

As you can see, we survived “The Thaw”, which was a great fear of mine, and made it through Transfer Day. On Monday morning, we woke up nice and early and made our way to our  favorite pre-treatment breakfast spot, The Goddess and the Grocer. It’s  been our tradition to go get breakfast there on the morning of any treatment so it was a great way to start the day- if you’re in Chicago, you MUST try their maple bacon egg sandwich! At around 8:30, we crossed the street and arrived at the clinic for our 9am appointment.

Now, if you’ve ever had a transfer done, you know that they require you to have a full bladder for the procedure to allow them to get a clear picture of your uterus… And you also know that this is probably one of the most uncomfortable parts of the whole procedure. Otherwise, it’s a piece of cake. I’d had a large cup of hot apple cider (warm uterus + no caffeine = happy embaby!) and a 32+ oz bottle of water to make sure that my bladder was perfectly full by 9am… Well 9am came and went, 9:15 came and went, 9:30… They didn’t call us back into the procedure room until 10 o’clock. By that time I was super uncomfortable. So I asked the nurse if I could empty out a little bit. She gave me a cup to go in but didn’t explain that I could fill it! So I only emptied a little, fearing that if I did too much, it’d delay the procedure.

Another 15 minutes go by and I’m back in the room now EXTREMELY uncomfortable. To the point of tears. Jon was such a sweetheart and went out of the room to ask them to hurry up or if I could go again. The nurses assured him I was next so if I could just hold it a little longer. Another 5-10 minutes went by…when you have to pee that’s an eternity. Finally the nurse came in and saw my tears and immediately whisked me off to the bathroom- “We want you to be relaxed! Not uncomfortable enough to have tears!”- where she explained that I could empty a FULL CUP. Well geez, had you told me before…

I walked back to the room MUCH more comfortable and then the rest of the crew came in. Just like before, the embryologist came in to confirm who we were and how many we were transferring, they propped me up, put her up there on the big screen- What a movie star!- sucked my embaby up into the catheter and *flash!*, it was over. The ultrasound tech gave us this picture, after she was placed in there:

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That little white dash? That’s her! As you can see from the picture on the title- Frostie was already starting to hatch out of her shell for implantation, which is very exciting! After all was said and done,  we went home to rest, making a pit stop at Trader Joes to get some pastries and for Jon to buy me flowers (Awww!). I spent the rest of the day watching Netflix with hubby in bed and then we went out for a very relaxing and delicious dinner that night.

Tuesday I returned to work since I have a desk job that doesn’t require much movement and had acupuncture afterwards. I had to do my PIO shot that night and change my patches- I’m getting so much better at self administering the shot! I felt a little light headed all day and like a little… Idk, heavy? down there but otherwise no symptoms to write home about.

Today I am symptom spotting like a motherf-er. I had a nose bleed this morning… I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had a nosebleed in my life and my  uterus is DEFINITELY sore today. I am constantly aware of it and it’s not because I’ve been thinking about it all day because I’ve had a pretty busy day at work… (sigh) Now I’m rambling.

Anyway, feeling pretty optimistic overall! I will likely test before my beta because I don’t want to be completely surprised but not until next week. I did not do a trigger shot so no HCG in my system and if I test it will be the real deal.

Hopefully my next update will bring good news!

North of Wrigley (1)

Lupron Day!

Today’s the day!  I’ll be starting 10 units of Lupron tonight between 6-9pm. So crazy! I can’t believe it’s here. I’m, yet again, super nervous and excited all at once. Here’s what my schedule will look like for the next month and a half: (For reference, I started birth control pills on August 4th to put me in a “holding pattern” until I was ready to start this cycle.)
-Today! Start Lupron 10 units between 6 & 9pm continue through Sept 19th
-Last day of BCP Sunday Sept 11th
-“Baseline” Sept 20th (Await instructions on meds for that night, probably continue the 10 units)
-Sept 21st: Decrease Lupron to 5 units on the 21st and add in Estrace (2mg Tablet Orally), Minivelle (1 patch switched out every other day) and baby aspirin
– Monitoring appointments on Sept 27th (increase minivelle to 2 patches and then 4) & October 4th(decrease minivelle back to 2)
– October 5: Stop Lupron, start Endometrin 3x daily and progresterone in oil every other day along with Minivelle, Estrace & baby aspirin
– October 10- TRANSFER! Same meds
– October 20- Beta!

Yesterday hubby and my mother in law picked Frostie up from her temporary home out in the suburbs and moved her to our home office here in the city. I wasn’t able to go because I couldn’t afford to take another day off of work but he said the journey was uneventful. (He specifically wanted to take my mother in law’s car because she has a BMW SUV which he says would make him feel more safer than our little Prius C.) This goober of course had a few jokes to tell- only he could come up with a joke about transferring a frozen embryo from one facility to another. Apparently when he went into the office with the canister, the receptionist asked “Can I help you?” and Jon responded with “Yeah, is this the drop off for daycare?” and held it up for  her to see. HA! I hope Frostie inherits his sense of humor 🙂

Here’s daddy and baby’s first picture together! (The first of millions I hope)

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Wish me luck! And let the rollercoaster ride begin!

It’s Been A While

Hey all!

So it’s been a while since I last posted and I figured I should update.

This morning, I had my hysteroscopy to rule out any uterine problems on my part that were standing in the way of implantation. Happy to report, we’re all clear! (If you’re squeamish, or if this is TMI for you, I apologize in advance. )

We arrived at the clinic promptly at 7:30 this morning and waited a while before they took me into the OR but once again, anesthesia is a beautiful thing and I was out like a light. I actually woke up and said “Is it because of the medicine I feel so sleepy? … Oh wait, it’s over?!” I was lucky enough that Jon didn’t have to go into work until this afternoon so he was there with me the whole time. The doctor found that I didn’t have a polyp towards the opening of my uterus like he suspected I might and that the indent in the top that he also thought might be worth checking out/shaving really wasn’t. I had a few little not-quite-polyps that he removed and that was it! Recovering today has been a little rough. I’m even more sleepy and sore than after retrieval but not to the point where I think it’ll take me all weekend to recover.

We went out to breakfast afterwards (I’m doing another Whole30 so just eggs over easy, hashbrowns cooked in olive oil and bacon for me) and then went home and I watched a few episodes of Jane the Virgin. I took a nap and woke up to my nurse from the RE’s office calling… And… *drumroll please*

Looks like we’re starting FET protocol NEXT WEEK! She’s going to work on my schedule and I should have it by Tuesday! Since I’ve already been taking BCP to prepare, she’ll put in the order for any meds I might need (still have Lupron from last cycle that I didn’t use so that’s one thing off the list) and we’ll get the ball rolling. Thursday Jon’s going to pick up Frostie to bring her to our home office- yes that’s right, they have you transport it yourself in a little tank- so I’m pretty excited about that. Frostie’s first car ride! lol

A few other women in my support group are starting IVF cycles this month as well. Hoping that we’ll all have a due date near each other, how amazing would that be?! To be honest, it’s also a little terrifying for the little voice in the back of my head that’s saying, “What if you get left behind again?” But I’m trying to stay positive and send all that positivity straight down to the area below my belly button. 😉 Transfer is looking like it’ll probably be towards the end of the month or early October with the projected 4 week timeline.

Please please please let little Frostie be the one!

North of Wrigley (1)

 

 

Post IVF Consult & A Diagnosis

Today we had our post IVF consult with the new RE to talk about next steps. I was very nervous about having to go by myself since Jon was at work but it worked out fine. After having a fantastic weekend with my friends who were visiting from out of town, I was a little “under the weather” and struggled through a few hours at work before getting to leave for my consult.

My new RE is really great- I already like him better than my previous RE. Right off the bat, he gave us a diagnosis, which, not going to lie, I was very surprised to hear.

“I’m so sorry your IVF cycle didn’t work out, I understand that you did IVF because of sperm issues?”

Oh really? Dr (X) didn’t really specify what our issue was…

“Yes, based on your sperm analysis and the samples for your IUIs and actually the IVF, I would say that is the main problem we are facing…”

Since my cycles are very regular, I respond well to all the medications and all my tests have come back normal, he proceeded to walk me through the samples. The samples showed that, unfortunately, at one point or another each of the three main categories- count, motility, and morphology- were pretty low. He confirmed that doing ICSI for our cycle had been the right thing but that even then the morph in the sample was noted by the embryologists to have been abnormal. To be honest, I was pretty angry as he was telling me this. My previous doctor had specifically said that she was “not worried” when I asked about the low numbers but as soon as I heard the stats from each, consecutively as he was reading them, it was pretty obvious to me. So that’s it, we have been diagnosed with male factor infertility (MFI). Just one more thing to confirm that we made the right decision staying with the clinic and staff there rather than follow her to her new clinic.

Once that was out of the way, he asked a few questions about how we would like to proceed.  I told him that Jon is leaning towards an FET but that I was on the fence about doing another retrieval and fresh transfer or giving Frostie her turn. Given that Frostie is a quality embaby, we are still young and that my reserves are good, he said there was no reason why we shouldn’t do an FET. He explained the basics of a frozen transfer to me and once I realized that we could do a bit more scheduling with an FET, with a lot of stuff that’s going on at work, that made my decision a little easier. So Frostie’s coming back to Chicago from the suburbs and we will do the transfer at my home office here in the next few weeks!

My RE answered a looootttt of my other questions after that- one of which was is there any additional testing he feels we should undergo. The only other thing he suggested was to explore the “possible polyp” in my uterus and the slight dip in the top of it. Apparently I have a little something on the bottom (?) of my uterus that there is a good chance would not effect anything but just in case I wanted to leave no stone un=turned we could one of two things. Another saline ultrasound which may or may not confirm anything or a hysteroscopy which would allow him to look inside and possibly fix anything needed. I also asked about an endometrial scratch but he said at this point he didn’t feel it necessary and if anything had to be fixed (the polyp removed, the top straightened out), that would act as a scratch anyway. So! At the end of this month I will be having a hysteroscopy to take a look inside and rule out any possible other issues we could encounter.

I’m so ready to move on. Emotionally, I still have my moments and I grieve for our lost embaby every day but I have a really good feeling about our Frostie.

North of Wrigley (1)

 

Birth Control Pills- Round 2

IVF#2

This morning I started birth control pills in preparation for round 2 of IVF. Cycle day 1 wound up being Saturday so not really even much time to recover from the blow that was our first cycle being a failure. We both had a really rough weekend but luckily we were able to spend the entire time wrapped up in each other and remember what an amazing week it had been.

As part of my healing process, I decided to get a tattoo on Sunday:

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I got this to remind myself that I am a warrior- that if I get pulled back, it is only to be shot forward. The symbol in the middle is the Viking Rune “Inguz” which stands for fertility, gestation and internal growth- an homage to this journey that has shaped the person I a today but will not define me. I am beyond thrilled with it and I did feel like a tiny weight was lifted off my shoulders after getting it.

The RE I started this whole journey with actually left the clinic on Monday to start her own. After careful thought, we decided not to follow her but to remain at our current clinic and switch doctors. Unfortunately, my old RE didn’t even know whether or not her new clinic would be accepting our insurance by the time she left and would be the only RE there. That really worried me because a. We have amazing coverage for our infertility services so insurance is a must and b. I’d heard that many smaller clinics start all of their IVF cycles at the same time so everyone is “synced”.  With her being the only doctor, I was afraid that may be the case, not to mention if she decided to go on vacation. Now I’m not saying that there’s necessarily anything wrong with syncing cycles, however, I would like to think that my doctor would take a more individualized approach and I’m not sure if that could be the case with only one doctor in the office. Our current clinic also offers more “amenities” and support services and I’ve grown to really love the staff there. Seeing the same familiar faces every week somehow makes this whole thing a little easier and, call me crazy, but I was really sad at the thought of leaving them. So on Monday I called and scheduled an appointment with one of the (several) other REs. August 15th is the big day!

I have a whole host of questions for him (I might do another post on that?) and am trying to prepare while simultaneously taking it easy/not focusing on TTC for a little while. More easily said then done. I had a baseline monitoring appointment on Tuesday which went well- my hormone levels are all in line, nothing leftover to be worried about. I actually felt a lot more emotional than I thought I would going to the appointment. I had hoped that the next time I came back would be to see my little one on the ultrasound not a bunch of little follicles.  But things don’t always work out as we planned. I kept trying to remind myself that there is a good chance that one day we will be back there and we WILL hear good news.

Until then, I guess I’ll be eating pineapple cores and drinking raspberry tea every day. 😉

North of Wrigley (1)

BFN

I meant to update here throughout my two week wait to keep track of what happened in the weeks leading up to what I hoped to be a very happy ending to my IF journey. I’m writing today with a very different result. Today I received confirmation from my RE that our first (ugh. ) IVF cycle has failed.

I didn’t update after my transfer so here’s a quick recap of what happened there-

On Wednesday the 20th, we went into the clinic at our scheduled 430 after a really fun morning at the Cubs game. The Cubs’ first baseman even hit 2 homeruns! That had to be a great sign right?!

As soon as I got to the clinic I started chugging my liter of water that I’d brought with me. Jon and I both go dressed in our scrubs and waited for the embryologist to come in. He brought us great news that one of our embabies was at the blastocyst stage and graded a 3bb and another was in the early blast stage. We had 4 others in the early blast stage but of the 5, there was one clear leader. At this point, he asked us whether or not we would be doing one or 2 embryo transfers.

Jon and I had to think on this one again once we were presented with how our little ones were doing. On the one hand, we’d thought about twins and were ok with the possibility- it would mean a big lifestyle change but we could handle it. We were also scared that if we transferred one that we would have to go through this again so soon and our guts were leading us towards transferring two. On the other hand, we really just wanted ONE healthy baby and given our age and health, the embryologist said we would have a 50% or greater chance of twins if we transferred two. Since multiples are more likely to be born prematurely and have an increased risk of health issues, in the end we decided to transfer just our little 3bb.

Once I had finished my water, taken my Valium and all the paperwork was signed, they brought us back into the procedure room, the whole thing took all of 6 minutes- so crazy! The team, include my RE and two other assistants and an embryologist, laid me down on the table and got me set up with the catheter right away. The team also put an ultrasound on my stomach to see the placement in my uterus. They showed us our little guy on the screen, magnified times 500!, and then zoomed back out to suck “him” up into the tube. 5,4,3,2,1! A little flash of light and our embaby was transferred! One of the assistants talked us through the whole thing which was really great and I even made a little joke about how badly I had to pee.

We left the clinic on cloud 9. The whole thing was amazing and at that very moment, I was pregnant! Since it was my birthday, we went out to dinner and I spent the next two days after that taking it easy.

Unfortunately, on Friday we found out that only one of the other embryos made it. To be honest, I was pretty shocked and it hurt more than I thought it would. Everything had gone so well up until that point that I thought, even knowing the statistics for what percentage make it, for sure we’d have multiple to freeze for when we wanted a second baby. But no. Only one. That’s when the panic and anxiety started to set in. Would I have to go through all this MULTIPLE times?

If I’m being honest, by Sunday, just 4 days post my 5 day transfer, the majority of my hope had vanished. I had been testing out my trigger (I know I know, youre not supposed to!) and based on friends’ experiences and what I’d read, it was possible to get a BFP that early. But my tests kept getting lighter… And lighter… Until they were stark white. And when youre used to seeing so many stark white BFNs and you see one more when you’re hopes and dreams have been placed right in front of you- so close you can almost touch them! Well. That spark of hope goes out. Done. Extinguished. And the pack of matches everyone has been offering you to try and bring it back is soaking wet and they wont even strike. There’s nothing you can do to bring it back.

So here I sit. 9 days post 5 day transfer. The day I’d dreamed about because I would FINALLY be pregnant after 18 months, gone. Today is not that day. I was lucky enough to be able to have Jon join me for lunch at the office today after the RE called. It was great to have my other half there with me in those moments and I truly believe this experience will bring us closer together than anything we’ve experienced previously but it sucks that this is the reason why.

We’ll be taking at least a month off from treatment to try and get healthier than ever before and to switch REs as mine is leaving the clinic. Frankly, we’re terrified to start over. What if this happens again? What if we risk everything for our frostie and we lose her too?