Sunday, March 30, 2008

Some wedding pics...

I realized I hadn't put many pics in the blog in a while, so I figured I'd throw in some wedding photos. And, what better day than our half-anniversary (We were married on 9-30 and today is 3-30). Have a great day!

Friday, March 28, 2008

"Here I go again"

Do you remember that 80's Whitesnake song? For those of you who don't know me well, I'm a huge music fan. So as I get ready to gear up for another round of IVF, this song has been in my mind all day. I realize most of my nest/MSN buddies are younger than me, but this was a very popular song circa 1987. It was a great video with actress Tawny Kitaen dancing on the hood of a car in a white dress--ha!

Some of you have asked why I'm staying with my current RE for another IVF cycle. I'll address that here so I don't have to keep repeating myself. My b/w checked out okay, so I was given the green light by my RE to try again beginning with Lupron on this current cycle. I could've waited another cycle, however, I have work meetings and vacations in May, vacations in June and maybe July. That means I can't do another round of IVF until end of July or August at the earliest. We didn't want to wait. IVF sucks. You can't travel anywhere as you have to be close by RE's office for frequent b/w and u/s. I will move on to another RE if we fail IVF#2.

"Here I Go Again"
I don't know where I'm going
But, I sure know where I've been
Hanging on the promises in songs of yesterday
And I've made up my mind
I ain't wasting no more time

But, here I go again
Here I go again

Though I keep searching for an answer
I never seem to find what I'm looking for
Oh Lord, I pray you give me strength to carry on
'Cause I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams

And here I go again on my own
Going down the only road I've ever known
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
And I've made up my mind
I ain't wasting no more time

I'm just another heart in need of rescue
Waiting on love's sweet charity
And I'm gonna hold on for the rest of my days
'Cause I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams

And here I go again on my own
Going down the only road I've ever known
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
And I've made up my mind
I ain't wasting no more time

But here I go again
Here I go again
Here I go again
Here I go again
'Cause I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams

And here I go again on my own
Going down the only road I've ever known
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
And I've made up my mind
I ain't wasting no more time

And here I go again on my own
Going down the only road I've ever known
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
'Cause I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Round 2: Ding, Ding, Ding

So, I feel like a boxer in a ring, beginning Round 2 of IVF. I hope I walk out of this round with as a K.O. victor over IF. I don't know much else about boxing...but I do know that I'm a fighter and I just won't keep feeling sorry for us and being down anymore. I'm moving on and trying to put the failure behind us. I feel better. All of my TTC friends told me that when I began cycling for #2, I would feel better about things. They were right. While I'm not beginning any drugs just yet, knowing that they're around the corner helps ease the pain.

Here is my new schedule for IVF #2. Keep in mind all of these dates are subject to change, so please don't write any down in ink.

April 8 Begin Lupron 10units (bring on the menopausal hot flashes and night sweats again)
April 17 or 18 Begin Follistim150IU (this is my major protocol change from IVF#1)
April 28, 29 or 30 Potential ER
May 1,2, 3 or 4 Potential ET (come on luck of the Kentucky Derby, if there is such a thing)
May 15, 16, 17, or 18 Beta to determine if we are successful

I'm sure Dr. Awadalla wants to get rid of me. I would if I were him. I've talked more to him via the phone over the last week than he probably cares to remember. But, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, right? I asked for med changes from Gonal-F to Follistim. I've had 2 negative cycles with Gonal-F now (Dec. and Feb.), so I think it's bad karma for me. :-) I also asked for lower dosages. Last time I was on 225IU of Gonal-F. My little egg factory produced 33 eggs. I would prefer a much lower number, but better quality eggs, so hence my 150IU dose. I hope my medical knowledge will work in my favor. If I'm wrong (which occasionally does happen), then I'll go with Dr. Awadalla's plan for higher doses at my stim check appts. We'll just have to see...I also asked for PIO shots. Yes, that's right, I asked for at least 2 more weeks of shots. Last time, he put me on progesterone suppositories in my 2 week wait. I don't feel that it was enough. I'm now asking for an IM freakin' painful shot (all of my other shots are SQ which are either given in my abdomen or my thighs--neither of which are too painful). He doesn't think there is any clinical evidence that they're differences between injections and supps, but he's allowing me to call the shots ("shots"-ha, now that's funny). The only thing he didn't allow me to do was get a Follistim + Menopur stim combo. He doesn't think I need it and I thought I might be asking for too much. If we fail this time, I will change docs and we will be doing different meds anyway I'm sure.

The problem with an IM injection? While everyone knows I love Steve dearly, I'm just not sure about his injection abilities. So, I'll either be reaching around to give myself a shot in the rear daily or I might ask one of my neighbors who is a nurse. As open as I am (sometimes I think I'm nuts with this blogging business), I have a very difficult time asking for help from anyone for anything. So, I'm sure I'll be giving it to myself...

Finally, I'm doing acupuncture this go around. I've found myself stepping outside my Western medicine world through this whole experience (with vitamins for both me and Steve). Those of you who know me well are probably quite surprised to learn that I'm willing to look into Eastern medicine. I am (and still will be) a staunch believer in the power of modern Western medicine (because I sell a life-changing medication that helps people live a better life) . So while my RE doesn't think I should do it, I am checking out acupuncture. He doesn't think there is any clear evidence that it helps. But, many "nestie" girls do it and get their BFPs and swear by it, so here I go. Hope to prove my RE wrong (again).

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

How can things like this happen?

So much bad news today with some of my on-line friends. The world is not fair. One girl lost her twins today at 23 weeks 3 days. No previous problems. Just woke up early this morning and had placental abruption and went into labor. Both babies weighed around 1 lb and neither were strong enough to live. Now a girl who went through this IVF hell to have a baby and thought she had made it to the other side is now grappling with such a deep sadness and grief that I simply cannot imagine.

Another friend just failed her IVF#4 today. That was her last chance to have a biological child. Now they have to figure out whether they'll try donor eggs, donor sperm, donor embryos, or even adoption. How can this be fair?

Finally, most all of my IVF cycle buddies have failed their cycles, too. Just by sheer math, at least 50% of us should've had BFPs, but noooo. I think we're hardly batting 25%. WTF??

The women on the Nest TTTC and MSN (private) message boards are incredible. They are always there for me. Good or bad. Happy or sad. I've met a few of the gals locally at my Cincy RE office, but I'll probably never meet the other 99% of them. Yet they're there for me. Every day. Every night. One of my friends (Christi) recently put this poem in her blog. The poem is found on our MSN home page. I think it truly sums up how I feel for these magnificent women.

Faceless Friends

I’ve never even met you though I know your life by heart
You’re a friend who I may never meet but we’re friends, although apart.
Your stories, strength and power to keep pushing every day
Fill me with hope, love and courage, you inspire in every way.
Sometimes I even see you, in my dreams at night while I sleep
We’re sitting having coffee discussing emotions that run so deep.
We have something in common which brought us to this place
We suffer with infertility, but the dream we all still chase.
A dream that is a child, to have, to love, to hold
Is our binding factor but our friendship will uphold
I think of you on days when I know you’re feeling low
I pray for you on those same nights, more than you’ll ever know.
When I get some news, be it bad or be it good
I know you’re there to listen, with you I’m never misunderstood.
You understand my suffering although our stories are not the same
It’s a sisterhood, infertility, we will not be ashamed.
This nightmare that is infertility, I wouldn’t wish on my foe
But it’s the foundation of our friendship, I am so blessed that you, I know.
You are now a part of my life, someone I can’t forget
For your kind words and understanding, I’m forever in your debt.
You’ll be forever in my life, although your face I may never see
I wish for you all the kindness that you’ve bestowed on me.

Finally, in other news today, a man is pregnant. Yes, you read that correctly.

Friday, March 21, 2008

I'm being whiny....

Why is infertility so hard? We've been grieving for our loss this week. We had our hopes so high that this was going to be "the cycle." I think we had just trusted our RE so much--he just seemed so darn positive that it work. I had my wtf conversation with him this week after the BFN. He really doesn't have much insight into why we failed. But, he seems to think we can be successful at another round. I'm no longer sure of anything he has to say...

He said our options are:
1) Another round of IVF.
2) A non-IVF cycle (ie, IUI). Well, we failed two IUIs last year, so why is this an option for me again???
3) Enroll in an IVF study. While I like the idea of saving money, I'm not interested in daily b/w at a clinic 90 minutes away.

So, I guess we'll be bringing on the pricks again (trying to have a little needle humor). LOL

In the meantime, please try to not make the following comments to me:
1) "Just Relax" or "Go on Vacation." I know you mean well, but relaxation does not cure medical infertility.
2) "Just enjoy being able to sleep late, travel, etc." These are not comforting comments to me. I feel like you are minimizing the pain I feel. You wouldn't tell somebody whose parent just died to be thankful that he/she no longer has to buy Father's Day or Mother's Day cards.
3) "There are worse things that could happen." The only person who is the final authority on how one should feel is actually that person. Different people react to different life experiences in different ways.
4) "Maybe it's not meant to be." Okay, this comment is horrible. I gotta keep praying that IF is not a punishment from God or Mother Nature.
5) "I'll donate the sperm/egg." While probably meant to be funny, it is an irritating, crude comment.
6) "Are you going to adopt?" While adoption is something we are definitely open to and I'm already checking into, we will come to this decision on our own. In our own time.

So, what can you say to help us feel better?
1) Just let us know that you care.
2) Help us feel that we're not so alone.
3) Support us in our decisions.

If you actually read this, then I again apologize for my bitterness and whiny attitude today. Reminder: a blog is intended to be one's diary/journal. I don't want to censor my comments. I'm just speaking what's on my mind at this moment....

Monday, March 17, 2008

Failed IVF#1

It's over. I'm hurt and so sad. If I am unable to speak with you directly at this time, please know I'll talk to you when I can. I'd rather not have to explain the details.

I had a blood test done today by my local OB/GYN's office. BFN.

Thanks for all your support and prayers.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Going out of town this weekend

We are happy for the distraction. We need it. This has been the longest week ever! I have been working a lot to keep me busy and not as focused on the whole baby thing. It's actually worked for the most part.

We are headed to St. Louis for a sales award trip for me. It's a neat sales award called "Run Through The Warehouse." They take my team (who finished #1 in sales last year in the country--yeah!!) and their spouses/guests to a large warehouse that's probably roughly the size of a Sam's Club (or, so I think). You and your partner have 60 seconds to run as fast as you can grabbing empty boxes of potential merchandise from shelves. All of the merchandise have different point values (ex, flat screen TV=more points than a blender). One person is pushing the cart and the other person is throwing the boxes onto the cart. At the end of 60 seconds, the award folks tally all of the merchandise point totals. They then give us those points on a credit card that can be used at many locations (ie, Macy's, etc.) Points=dollars, so we have to run fast!!

So what are we wishing for with all of that money? Well, we love Sonny, but he has destroyed the sofa. So, I want new living room furniture (that hopefully he won't destroy). Steve wants Blue Ray, Rock Band and Xbox 360(which Rock Band works on). I also want new bedding for our Master Bedroom. We'll see how much we get to determine what else (if anything) we can afford. The good news is I've already got a lot of points loaded onto the card from previous rewards in anticipation of big purchases. And, don't know yet for sure, but I may have just won another contest that ended on 2/28/08 that gives me ~3,000 points, so that would also help. I may not be able to have a child easily, but I can sell!!!!!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Bad news today regarding our 13 embryos

We are so upset. I got the call today from my RE's office regarding how many embies made it to freeze and unfortunately, none made it. How did this happen?? A recap in the event you don't want to scroll down to previous posts below: 33 eggs, 21 mature, 15 fertilized, (2) 8-cell embies transferred at 3 days, the other 13 embryos who were all still dividing were left to grow to blastocyte (100 cell) stage. None made it. RE says there was fragmentation but that some did make it to a morula (which can be up to 32 cells) stage. Mind you this was my report today, 7 days after the ER. I asked why they weren't frozen on Saturday after 5 days and he said that none of them were blastocytes (ie, not "perfect"). And "perfect" is hard to achieve in a petri dish as opposed to the uterus, where the embryos want to be for the right balance of nutrients, etc that it provides. I feel like he wants to freeze at this stage mainly for the purpose of being able to report his high 50% success with FETs.

I feel like they constantly try to stuff the 'one size fits all' mentality down my throat. Ex: Lupron always begins on CD22. They like for IVFers to start stims on Thursdays, check Mondays and Thursdays, and trigger on Saturdays so that they can have their retrievals on Mondays and transfers on Thursdays. I did this exact outline protocol to fit precisely into their perfect schedule for less work for them on the weekends! I am not an assembly line product.

If we are not successful this cycle, I will more than likely change clinics. I need to be happy, even if he is the best specialist in the Lexington/Louisville/Cincy area.

Granted, I truly hope and pray that these beautiful ones inside me are strong, growing, and stick very soon. But, these other 13 embies could've been hope for a failed cycle. Or, even hope 2 years down the road for baby#2. They were our potential children for goodness sake. Clinic success rates should not be factored in to whether or not they get a chance at life. I'm not talking about freezing all 13, but I just know that they weren't all bad. We could've had 2 make it to freeze and we would've been okay. But none??? This isn't fair.

Infertility isn't fair. I swear if I were some teenage crack addicted prostitute, I'm sure I'd have no problem whatsoever cranking out a litter of kids. You never hear of those people having infertility problems. Sorry for the bitterness, but I'm having a bad day. I'm not perfect and it's hard to pretend that everything is great all of the time to everyone I know.

Now, back to positive thoughts to my little future possible babies who are hopefully already nesting in for a long nap. They don't need an angry Mommy.

Winter 2008 Pet Photos

Here are a few pet photos from this weekend's big snow...Sonny is our Golden Retriever puppy and Cher is our sweet little kitty...

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Timing is everything!

So, if ever I was a little disappointed that we didn't have a 5 day embryo transfer today, all of those thoughts are completely out of the window! I'm so thankful that we did a 3 day transfer on Thursday. Here in Lexington, we have 4 inches of snow on the ground with additional accumulation expected. But in Cincinnati (where my RE office is located), they already have a foot of snow on the ground and another 3 inches expected. Yikes! The interstate is closed down in certain sections on the route from Lex to Cincy. I would not have made it to the transfer!! Talk about counting my blessings...

I've been cracked up at my puppy (Sonny) all morning. He's been playing in the snow--loves it!! And even my little kitty (Cher) has been excited to tip-toe around on the deck. Although she can't get around well as she sinks in the drifts, so I have to scoop her out. Fun morning!! I'll try to post pics soon...

Friday, March 7, 2008

Final post from yesterday's ET...

Here is a photo of our ultrasound. Our embies are the bright lights in the middle of the picture. The dark object is my full bladder that is droopy on one side (LOL). What a day!

Other photos from yesterday's Embryo Transfer...

Doesn't Steve look cute in his scrubs and hat?? Maybe he should've been a physician. Just kidding...

First photos!!

Well, the ET went well yesterday. We transferred 2 8-cell A+ embryos. It was probably one of the happiest days of my life. I had no idea what it was going to be like, but I was overtaken with emotion. It was so cool to be able to see our Dr. Awadalla actually put them into my uterus and we saw them both on U/S. My prayer is for them to stick soon. I'm trying to practice good visualization techniques right now.

Steve and I were both a little slap happy in the room. He was taking pics of Dr. A, the IVF nurse, me, equipment, etc.: a little out of control...Me? I actually sang them my favorite song while I was waiting on the table after the transfer. I hope they like music. :-)

Below is their first photo. We also have their little petri dish, too. I can't believe we got to keep these special keepsakes. We are already in love with both of them. I hope they both snuggle in for a 9 month nap.

Of the 13 remaining embryos, all are still dividing, although some more than others. Dr. A is allowing them to grow out to blastocyte stage. So, we will be freezing the ones that make it. We won't have a full report on them until Monday.

Now for the 2ww...any ideas to take my mind off of this craziness for the next two long weeks??

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A little more specifics on ICSI

Several people have asked us about ICSI, the procedure used in yesterday's egg retrieval. ICSI is a procedure used to assist in the fertilization process. ICSI is short for Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection, and means that a single sperm is placed directly inside the egg using micromanipulation equipment. ICSI has really revolutionized IVF over the last few years and improves fertilization rates in an IVF cycle.

Once eggs are retrieved and sperm are collected, the embryologist uses a tiny pipette to secure the egg and injects a single sperm into the egg's cytoplasm. Remarkably, when the needle is withdrawn, the egg will re-seal and assume its original shape. The resulting embryo is observed for normal cell division and, when appropriate, transferred into the uterus. This will probably be Thursday for us!!

Fertility Report is in!!

Good news! Of the 33 eggs retrieved yesterday, 21 ended up being mature. They used ICSI on all of them and we now have 15 embryos at the 2-cell pro-nuclear stage. We are absolutely thrilled! I was going to be happy with any number, but this is just wonderful. So, embies, listen to Mommy and grow, grow, grow!!!

The office has us tentatively scheduled for a 3 day transfer on Thursday at 10:30am. That morning we'll get the official call on whether it's a go for Thursday or if we are postponed (for a good reason) until Saturday. With all of these embryos, we've got a good shot for a 5 day transfer. So, we'll just wait and see. Thanks to all of you for all your prayers and support. We love you!!!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Well, I'm back from the egg retrieval!

Verdict: 33 eggs retrieved! Who knew I could possibly house a small village in my little ovaries? While I would've never have guessed a number that high, based on how I feel today, I'm not surprised.

Dr. Awadalla was very pleased with the ER number. We are using ICSI in order to give us the best chance for fertilization to occur with all of the eggs. Realistically, we are expecting no more than 15 eggs to be fertilized, but we just have to wait until tomorrow to get the fertility report to know for sure.

I've never felt this bloated in my life! I'm in serious pain. I feel like someone has taken a Louisville slugger and beaten my ovaries good! Yikes! And, every time I stand up, I feel like my uterus is going to fall out. Okay, enough graphic comments. You get the picture.

Hope this is over soon. I also hope the ET is such kinder to my body. Grow embies grow!!!! Mommy and Daddy love you all already!!!!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

My final shot!!

Well, I just triggered a little while ago, so no doubt about it--I'm doing an egg retrieval on Monday morning. We are scheduled for 1st case at 7:45am. Yeah! For those who don't know, a trigger injection does just what it sounds like--it triggers ovulation to occur in exactly 36-40 hours. My doctor will harvest my eggs in 35 hours, however, just before the eggs are released from the follicles naturally. Talk about a specific medicine!!

My last u/s and b/w was this morning. My u/s showed: a lining of 10.4 (which is really good) and according to Dr. S had nice signs of being ready for implantation to occur (yahoo!). In my right ovary, I have 8 follies at 18-20mm (perfect sizes) and in my left ovary, I have 6 follies again at 18-20mm and 3 follies at 13-14mm (my little stragglers). B/W showed E2=1636 and LH still low at 0.4, but I'm not going to worry about it. So overall, everything looked great for my trigger tonight.

I'll try to give an update when my sedation wears off on Monday. Steve and I are so happy and excited for this to be our BFP cycle. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers that we will get pg on IVF#1!!!