Saturday, June 28, 2008

the waiting game continues

OK, I feel like I've done a decent job of letting things flow through me for the last five days. I have managed to keep a respectable level of hopefulness despite the cold, desperate fear trying to claw it's way to the surface. I've even been downright optimistic at times, like this morning when I woke up to find my bra size seems to have gone up overnight, or yesterday afternoon when I felt undeniable tugging in my abdomen. I've allowed myself daydreams of pregnancy announcements (something I did at the very beginning but haven't in the looooong time since) and the name lists I filed away a year ago are back on the front burner, simmering contentedly. But we're not even halfway to the beta, and I can feel my buoyancy slowly slipping away.

The usual script is starting to play in my head - the one that reminds me we've had 21 months of no luck and I'm fooling myself if I think that will change now. My body has proven, time and time again, that pregnancy just isn't something it can accomplish. I know the story of That Woman, the one who tries for years, gives up completely, and then finds herself pregnant, but I feel like transplanting myself into that fantasy is akin to expecting to win the lottery. We all know it happens to someone, but we're idiots and doomed to disappointment if we stake anything tangible on it happening to us.

I tested this morning to make sure the trigger is out of my system. It is. That means I have a green light to test from here on out. I initially thought I could hold off until next weekend. Mmmm, not a chance. I'm just hoping to make it to the middle of next week. Wednesday will be 9 dp5dt, or the equivalent of 14 dpo. A test taken that day should be reliable. No need to wait any longer than that. I had hoped to delay testing until I had some time off work because I thought I could manage my emotions better that way. Ha! I can already tell I'll be a nervous wreck by Monday, if not sooner. I'm starting to feel every minute ticking by in anticipation of the time that we can have an answer - whatever it will be. I used to reach this same point in my other 2wws, where even a BFN feels more manageable than not knowing the outcome. The emotional demands of managing my hopes and fears as I float in limbo are, for me, the hardest of all I think. It's like I'm constantly reaching for one outcome or the other, then slapping my own hand and scolding myself back to center.

I'm at a loss to describe how desperately I want this to work. M and I have worked so hard for so long. I can't bear to think of what will happen if we find ourselves back at the starting line again.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

on the rocks

We have five snowbabies.


Five frozen blasts, all cryopreserved on day 6, just waiting for us to use them as we see fit.

I am on top of the world. Just knowing that we can try 2-3 more times without another egg retrieval is the hugest weight off my shoulders. Also, what does it say about the quality of the two we transferred that even after they skimmed the best two off the top, we still had five little troopers make it to a day 6 freeze?! Those little superstars we transferred come from good stock, apparently.

When I got the call from the clinic today, my first thought was "Hey, now this cycle might actually work after all!" It was the first time I've honestly thought that and believed it, and it was awesome.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

staring out at a loooong 2 weeks

Apparently my clinic subscribes to the same sadistic philosophy as vee and jay’s. My beta is scheduled for July 7th. WTF! I’m definitely not going to make it that far. I’m hoping to hold out until the 4th because I’m terrified of getting a negative test result and having to go to work the same day. The 4th starts a 4-day holiday weekend for me so I’ll have plenty of time to celebrate or mourn before having to face unknowing clients and co-workers again.

I’ll be impressed if I make it to the 4th, to be honest. I’ve been a “test early and often” girl since the beginning. The 4th will be 11 days past a 5-day transfer, so kind of like 16dpi. There’s no way the devil on my shoulder will let me go that long without a little POAS action.

The situation with my parents has gone from bad to worse. They are fully considering this to be a done deal. My dad asked (in complete seriousness) whether I was officially pregnant now that the transfer was complete. When I told him no, he asked “at what stage” I start to be considered pregnant. My answer? Um, when I actually AM pregnant? Their enthusiasm is so sweet and I’m trying to resist the pull I feel to be extra-pessimistic to balance them out. I find myself bristling because I know that if this works, they’re going to be exalting their intuition because they “knew it all along” and I’m going to feel defensive that they don’t realize what a freaking coincidence – no, miracle - it still is that it worked, even after all pre-transfer signs were good.

But then I stop myself. I mean, seriously? Does it matter whether they get excited now or later? I know what the statistics are. I know what that means for our chances. I’m still doing what I need to do to prepare myself, and I've tried to arm them with the information they need to prepare themselves as well. If this is how they choose to handle it, so be it. I should be so lucky to get a BFP so I have to hear them say they told me so. If that is the greatest of my concerns, I’ll be living a charmed life indeed.

Monday, June 23, 2008

back from ET

We transferred 2 healthy blasts. I'll post pics later. We won't know about snowbabies until the end of the week. I have lots more to write about how everything went, but I'm supposed to be lying down so it'll have to wait. Just wanted to post a quick update since I know several of you are checking in on us religiously!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

pre-transfer jitters

I'm bouncy tonight. I don't know why I'm so nervous for tomorrow's transfer. I know that it will be the easiest part of the whole thing, physically. I guess I'm anxious about what will come next. After tomorrow, we don't have any more blood tests or ultrasounds or daily calls from the clinic. It's likely we won't hear a peep from them until our beta in two weeks. Up until now, I've never had to look farther than a couple of days into the future to see our next step. After tomorrow, we're on our own for a while. Also, the next chute/ladder we will hit will be the big one. There won't be any waiting a couple more days or adjusting a dosage to improve the situation. If the outcome is not good, it'll just be a BFN. Game over.


I'm a little nervous about what shape the embies will be in tomorrow. Everything has rocked so far and I know it's okay to be optimistic. I also know that days 3-5 are tougher than days 1-3 and there's a good chance we may have lost some since our last update. I'm just hoping we have two good blasts to transfer and a couple more to freeze. Fingers are tightly crossed.

Thanks so much to everyone who has commented and emailed. I'm trying to do the same in return but I still feel so lousy! The mere thought of food made me nauseated today. I'm doing a good job of staying hydrated and rested, and I still don't have any of the big scary OHSS symptoms, but things definitely aren't quite right.

I'll post tomorrow to let you know how the transfer goes. Thanks again for all of your support and positive thoughts!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

hooray and other musings

The update is in, and it's very good. All 13 embryos still look to be developing nicely. As of this morning, we had:
  • 1 12-cell
  • 1 10-cell
  • 3 9-cell
  • 4 8-cell
  • 3 7-cell, and
  • 1 6-cell
in our little corner of the incubator. According to the nurse that called, anything 8-cell and higher is great for this stage and the other four embryos aren't far behind so we have every reason to hope they will catch up. Transfer was pushed back to Monday at 10:45am.

It sounds like we are entitled to a little optimism that there will be some embryos/blasts suitable to freeze on Monday. I really hope so.

The last week or so has been a lot more challenging than I expected, especially the physical recovery from the ER. I thought I had done a good job preparing myself by asking veterans about their experiences, talking to the doctor, etc. M and I were both blindsided by how difficult each day since the retrieval has been. In fact, I asked the nurse when she called this morning whether I should be concerned that I'm still feeling this poorly. She went over the OHSS checklist with me - again - but said that what I was describing sounded normal and indicated that I still need to be taking Tylenol every 4 hours and focusing on hydration and rest. *sigh* I'm tired of feeling like this.

Wednesday and Thursday were particularly awful. As late as Thursday night, I was telling M that under no circumstances would I consider a repeat performance of IVF. I told her I hoped we ended up with snowbabies because there was no way in hell I'd put my body through this again. By mid-day Friday, I'd cooled to the point of "considering" it, but I have to say, even today, I'd be devastated to have to walk this path again, and not just because that would mean we would still be trying to get pregnant. I guess others have easier times with it, and maybe our second time around would be totally different. The yuckiness of this time make me very hesitant to throw my hat in again, though.

In other news, I'm terrified that a BFN will crush my parents, if it comes to that. When I called my mom with the embryo update this morning, she had to hand the phone off to my dad (first time for everything!) because she got all teary over the good news. After the phone was handed back to her, my dad asked (nervously and through my mom) whether it would be okay for him to tell a friend, and he named a specific family friend that he wanted to tell. (M and I have kept the number of people we've told about ttc to a minimum and we initially asked our parents not to tell anyone else. My mom couldn't do it, which I completely understand, and with our blessing, has talked to a small handful of her closest girlfriends. My dad hasn't told another soul.) I told my mom yes, of course, because I think everyone that is emotionally invested needs someone to talk to about this stuff, but I was secretly disappointed in his choice of confidants. I'm not disappointed because it's a bad choice, I'm disappointed because it is a family friend I'm particularly fond of. It's someone that has known me practically since birth, and someone I've daydreamed about announcing my pregnancy to myself; someone I knew would be beside himself with joy for us. I hinted this to my mom but swore her to secrecy, explaining that I wanted my dad to tell whoever he wanted to tell. Anyway, she sent me an email a little while ago thanking me for letting my dad talk to this person. As I predicted, he (the friend) had been "so happy he could hardly speak" and it was good for my dad's spirit to get to talk to him about it. The problem is, I'm not pregnant yet. The knowledge that he was "so happy he could hardly speak" makes me wonder how my dad pitched our precise situation. I'm worried they think we've already crossed the major hurdles and there is no way I won't get pregnant from this procedure. I'll admit it looks that way on the surface, but as we all know, sometimes it just doesn't work, even when everything seems perfect. I don't mean to judge them for their excitement, and I know it's my own fear and nervousness that is causing me to shake my finger at their enthusiasm. I'm just really dreading the call I'll have to make to them if this doesn't work after all. They're so genuinely thrilled and wrapped up in it all.

Damn it, this stuff is so hard.

But, back to the sunnier side of the street... our embryos are doing great. A couple of friends have been helping us get lots of mileage out of the right-wing "life begins at conception" propaganda by teasing us about our 13 "children". (i.e. "One day you were childless and the next, you're well on your way to becoming the Du.ggars!") Just to clarify, I do not consider our embryos to be our children. I don't have a problem with others who do hold those beliefs, but I do not share them. Still, I am finding myself with unexpected feelings about our little clusters of cells. I'm not proud of our embryos the way I would be of a child, but I feel some derivation or shadow of it, I think. In a way, it is as if they are fighting their own battle right now and it's a battle to become the children we're meant to have. I'm awestruck by the science behind it and proud of the fact that cells that came from myself and our KD are surviving and thriving at the rate that they are. I'm no more changing my fiercely pro-choice politics any time soon than I am worrying about their souls or researching embryo adoption for any we can't use. (Again, my choices - not criticizing any who make different ones.) Still, I do feel something new and tingly about the knowledge that one or more of those little organisms, dividing away in a lab across town, may already be on it's way to becoming a child we will learn and love inside and out. It's just weird.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

fertilization report is in... at last!!

After several hours of sitting around staring at my phone, tapping my feet, and trying to ward off every "worst case scenario" that was clawing its way into my head, the call is in and the news is good.

Turns out they retreived a total of 21 eggs yesterday, 19 of which were deemed mature. They did ICSI on 9 and 6 of those fertilized, and natural fertilization on the other 10, 7 of which fertilized. So, we have 13 little embies growing in an incubator as I type!

We're tentatively scheduled for a 3-day transfer on Saturday but they will call us Saturday morning to push us back to a 5-day transfer if everyone is still developing at a satisfactory rate.

We are so relieved. Thanks again to everyone who has followed our journey and kept our spirits up. Next update will be Saturday morning!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

the big two-oh

We are the proud owners of 20 retrieved eggs.

ER went smoothly. The last thing I remember was clearly and effortlessly reading a little sticker on the operating room light fixture over my head, and then I was back in the recovery room. I was a little crampy and a little queasy when we left, but overall, not too bad. Then, while I was sleeping, I missed a tylenol dosing time and (apparently) the lingering effects of my anaesthesia wore off because now I am s-o-r-e. I just woke up and took some more tylenol and hopefully it will start doing it's thing shortly.

I'll post again when the fertilization report comes in - probably won't be until late tomorrow afternoon/early evening.

Thanks to everyone who held us in their thoughts today. The hardest part is finally behind us!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

peeking in

Just a quick post to say I'm feeling a little better today. All of my resting and protein-ing and hydrating since yesterday seem to have made a difference, so I'm headed back to the couch momentarily to keep doing more of the same.

Surgery is at 7:30am tomorrow. I'll post an update as soon as I'm back on my feet.

Thank you all SO much for all of the well wishes and positive energy and good vibes. It really means a lot. Smooches to my BFF, inlocoparentis, whose post today reminds me that even when the deck feels stacked against me, I am lucky because I have the best friends in the whole world.

Monday, June 16, 2008

we're on deck

I just got the call from my clinic. My ER is scheduled for Wednesday morning.

I have 27 follicles, none of which are quite to the size they like to see before triggering, but my E2 is 3727 which is apparently cause for concern. The nurse did a thorough screening for OHSS symptoms and gave me the medical exchange number and a list of things to watch out for. I'm doing my best not to freak out, but I'm quite the hypochondriac, so there's lots of room for improvement. They're letting me go ahead and trigger tonight and I don't think they'd let me do that if they were overly worried about it.

I didn't have the specific symptoms she asked about (dramatic weight gain, infrequent urination, shortness of breath) but I generally feel like crap - nausea, headache, fatigue - and I have terrible heartburn. My ovaries are killing me and I'm beyond bloated, but the nurse assures me those things are normal.

I'm trying to figure out what to do about work tomorrow. On one hand, it seems like I should be taking it easy and my schedule at work tomorrow won't allow for that. Also, if I'm home, I can do dorky things like measure my urine output and weigh myself every 10 minutes if I want to. On the other hand, I'd be home alone all day and, historically, me being left to my own devices for extended periods does not play well with my medical paranoia. I guess I'll check in with M and see what she thinks.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

stim report: day 9

I'm running late for a surprise party, but here's the quick update...

E2: 1492
11 follies over 10mm on right
12 follies over 10mm on left
Follistim reduced to 125 units
next step is another stick/scan on Monday morning

Friday, June 13, 2008

stim report: day 8 - updated

The coin toss is not going well. The current tally is pregnant: 2, not pregnant: 5. I'm sort of hoping the negative trend is a form of karmic preparation for the really big "heads" to come in the form of our actual BFP.

On the flip side (pun intended), my stims seem to be doing their thing. This morning, the sonographer saw 5 follies between 10 and 12.5 on each ovary with 12 more under 10 on the left and 8 more under 10 on the right. It's nice to have confirmation and numbers to obsess over, but the aching in my ovaries alone told me things were progressing nicely. I'm anxious to get my Estradiol results. On Wednesday, they decreased my Follistim to 150 units. Hopefully they'll keep me at the lower dose today. I'd like to stretch the liquid gold as far as I can.

Oh, fun story: I was traveling for work yesterday and I found myself in a cramped, dirty Amtrak station at injection time. I tucked myself into a stall for my daily Lupron and Follistim fix and I couldn't help but wonder how many people had shot up in that very stall before me. It was totally one of those "How did I get here?" moments. Good times.

Updated to add: The clinic call is in. Response is looking good indeed. She said they actually saw 7 measurable follies on the left (still 5 on the right) and my E2 is 893. Meds remain the same and I go back tomorrow for another scan and stick. The nurse today said she'd guess my ER is going to be on Wednesday or Thursday, which is a little later than I hoped for, but oh well. I had to order more Follistim to get me there (ker-ching) but the end is still in sight.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

heads or tails

Preparing yourself for IVF is just one giant mindf~ck, best I can tell. It's like this constant balancing act between feeling a need to protect yourself in case this cycle ends up just like all those that came before it and allowing yourself to get appropriately excited about the significant shift in odds. At my clinic, and for my age group, the odds of me becoming pregnant at all are 52% and the odds of me becoming pregnant with a baby I will go on to deliver are 48%. So, it's roughly half and half. It's a coin toss.

M and I really don't know what to think. We talked the other night and realized we're on the same irrational page: We both fully expect IVF to work, because c'mon, it's freaking IVF, right? At the same time, both of us have accepted K Being Pregnant as a state that exists in the same realm as unicorns and the tooth fairy. Reverting back to high school logic (you remember it: If A then B, and so forth), if IVF works, then K will be pregnant. K can't get pregnant, therefore IVF can't work. But... how can IVF not work, because c'mon, it's freaking IVF, right? Cue quagmire.

I have taken a lot of statistics courses over the years and I get that they are only useful in aggregate. My own odds are skewed by my relative age within the group, my other identified health issues (or lack thereof, thank you unexplained infertility), my response to the medications, and a thousand other tiny variables no one can know. Still, I feel the need to embrace this concept of having a 50/50 shot. I feel like it's my best hope for preparing myself mentally for what is to come. It helps me to wrap my head around both possible outcomes in equal measure and keep an even balance of optimism and pragmatism. I'm also hopeful that, if faced with a BFN, it will help me not to give up hope. All it will mean is we landed on the wrong side of the fence this time and there's no reason to believe it won't go the other way if we figure out a way to try this again. It may just be the most helpful tool I've stumbled into so far.

To help cement this concept, M and I have begun a daily coin toss where heads means BFP and tails means BFN. For every day since stims started, M has flipped a coin and we see what we get. The score so far is pregnant: 1, not pregnant: 2. We forgot to flip last night, probably on account of the fact that I had a bit of an emotional breakdown, but we'll do it twice tonight to get caught up.

Everything else continues to challenge us. The A/C nightmare drags on - we've pretty much given up the dream of having central air in time for my retrieval. I've started referring to my wedding party cohorts as "The Bridesmaids: Ruining good moods for 20 days and counting." M is caught up in the a particularly intense few weeks of summer-school-slash-full-time-employment hell, and my moods are swinging like Sandra Day O'Connor. It's good times around the old homestead, let me tell you! We're keeping a sense of humor about it. Mostly.

Monday, June 9, 2008

stim report: day 4

The nurse just called. E2 level is 83. This is... normal, I guess? I'm doing my best to stay away from the internet search engines so I have no frame of reference, but the nurse who called with my results seemed unconcerned. All meds stay at their current levels. Next appointment is for bloodwork on Wednesday - no ultrasound on the horizon just yet.

I have acupuncture after work today. Hopefully she can help nudge things forward a bit.

Friday, June 6, 2008

off the ledge

Lest anyone worry that I need to be on suicide watch, I thought I should update and let you know that the initial panic has passed. Thanks to everyone who offered suggestions and sympathy.

We've received a couple more A/C estimates and it turns out the first one we received was ridiculously high. It's still going to be expensive - don't get me wrong, but it looks like we may get away with spending about $1000 less than we originally thought, which is pretty significant. The goal is to make a decision this afternoon in hopes that something can be installed by the end of next week.

I've also received some good information about the cats - specifically, that they can comfortably withstand much higher temperatures than dogs and even humans. Their food and litter box are both in the basement, so they'll be down there several times a day, and we just have to trust that they'll stay down there if they get too hot.

Acupuncture was this morning and stims start tonight. My acupuncturist put a bunch of needles in my tummy and hooked up the electro-stimulus-thingie to them. It was the first time she used that and it was a strange sensation, but she said it'll help me grow lots and lots of follicles so I'm all for it.

I had a great day at work yesterday - lots of exciting changes. It's a subject for another post, but it looks as if the proverbial window is opening in response to the closing of the door that was the other job opportunity.

Speaking of work, I guess I should get back to it. Thanks again for all of your support!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Damn it.

Damn it. Damn it. Damn it.

The A/C repair guy didn't show up until 6:15pm last night, and that only came to pass because I called the office when no one had showed by 5pm (and I'd been sitting in the hot house burning up vacation time for the past three hours) and learned that our appointment had been rescheduled for the next day but no one had bothered to call us. They generously offered to come out after hours, for an overtime fee of course, and I generously offered to take my business elsewhere if they couldn't get someone out to my house ASAP to fix their screw up end my misery. They called back a few minutes later to say someone would be over soon, no extra charge. When said repair person showed up, he informed us that (drumroll please)...

Our A/C is broken. As in, "There's-nothing-I-can-do-you-need-a-whole-new-system" broken. They'd be happy to get a new one in for us as soon as NEXT WEEK for the low low price of $4400.

It took a while for all of that to penetrate, but the nausea rolled in about an hour after he left and hasn't dissipated much. Our house is unbelievably, torturously hot. The humidity in our house is so severe that it's curling the cover of the paperback book I'm reading. M and I moved into the basement a couple of days ago which means we're at least getting some sleep now, but it also means we're cramming all of our daily activities into about one fifth of our living space. I'm really worried about our pets. For some reason, they refuse to hang out in the basement during the day while we're at work. They'll go down there in the evenings with us, but when we get home from work and/or school, they're all sprawled out on the couch and living room floor, panting and looking at us with squinted, pained expressions. And this is with the house opened up and every fan running. We're about to leave town for a couple of days (luckily for us) and we'll have to close everything up. The dog will be in a kennel but the cats will be home on their own. We're thinking about locking them in the basement to force them to hang out in the cool, but M is worried that will stress them out even more than the heat. I would think that if they got hot enough, they'd figure it out, but they haven't yet and it's really awful, so now my belief is that our cats are just extra-dumb or something.

What timing, huh? Our final payment (of about $4400 - what a coincidence!) to the clinic is due on 6/16, and we're going to have to fix this before then. There's no way I can cope with post ER and ET rest at home with the conditions being what they are. So I've got some phone calls to make today and tonight, I'll go to Home Depot and Lowes and anywhere else that I can think of and we'll just have to figure something out. By pulling from every corner of savings and credit, we'll be able to make this work, but it's going to decimate the cushion we'd built up going into IVF. I'm an underpaid social worker and M is wrapping up a stint as a full time student and looking for a job. It'll take us a year to recover from this financially.

We're just really wondering when we're gonna get our break. I'd love to think it will come in the form of a BFP, but really, why should our luck change at this point?

Damn it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

first hurdle cleared

The call came in. I'm appropriately suppressed. Lupron goes down from 20 to 10 units on Friday and Follistim (225 units) and antibiotics begin. First stim check (bloodwork only) will be on Monday, June 9th.

I didn't get the nitty gritty details (that's not how my clinic rolls) but the nurse said I had "very low" estradiol and there were "lots of small follicles on both sides just waiting to come forward." On we go!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

my life in bullets

I thought all day that I'd get around to posting this in a detailed, narrative form, but our air conditioning is broken which means my tolerance for sitting in this hot computer room in the midst of a Lupron headache is very low. I'm ready to head for the basement with my girls (that'd be M and the dog, not... you know, but I'll be taking them too, I guess). So, here's the nutshell, possibly to be fleshed out at a later date (tomorrow?); possibly not.
  • Sunday = best day ever. OK, maybe not best ever but darn close. Spent the whole day with M - shopping, eating, going to a play... bliss.
  • Yesterday = worst day ever. Again, I'm exaggerating, but can we just agree to let it go? First I found out through the grapevine that the wife of a friend is pregnant and in her second trimester already. This was followed by a conversation with my co-worker (on her first day back from maternity leave) about how perfectly wonderful it is having a 3-month old at home because 3-6 months really is the golden period and blah blah blah. Finally, I had an annoying situation come up with my fellow bridesmaids re: a wedding I'm in later this summer that took out my last nerve. The non-hormonally-challenged me would have just been a little bit put off, but oh no, a normal reaction was not in the cards. I have no fuse these days. I was in tears by the time I hit the parking lot and a complete mess by the time I arrived home.
  • My Lupron hell waned over the weekend so I decided I'd given it a bad rap. I was wrong. It now seems the acupuncture I had on Thursday night was just a lot more effective than I realized. Lupron Headache is back in full force and he's brought his friends Muscle Aches and World's Shortest Temper. I am soooo over this stuff. Next acupuncture isn't until Friday morning. I may try move it up, now that I realize how much it was helping.
  • Suppression check is tomorrow. If all looks good, stims will start Friday. I can't believe I'm going to be adding an extra shot per day. I'm running out of pincushion acreage.
  • I feel very prepared for the chance this won't work, but I'm going to be soooooo unbelievably bummed if that comes to pass.

A/C repair is scheduled for tomorrow, praise the deity of your choice. I'll post the results of the suppression check once I have 'em.