Saturday, August 30, 2008

This one is dedicated to my Mom...

I've wanted to dedicate a special post in this blog to my Mom for a while. Her name is Janet and I am the luckiest person on Earth to have her for my mother. You might be wondering why...

My Mom is the most selfless individual I've ever known. There is nothing that she won't do for me, my brother, or Steve. She devotes her time and attention to us anytime we need her. Anytime. She came to Denver with me last Saturday, despite the death of someone she was close to occurring the day before we left. She made it back in time for the funeral, but she still decided to make sure that I wasn't too lonely out here. That's just the kind of stuff she does.

She serves as our interior decorator. She has great taste and is one of those people who has a great eye for things. I just don't have that. She also helps us clean (yuck). My cleaning lady of 7 years quit on me in July. Mom came up a few weekends ago and helped us clean the house from top to bottom, which took the whole weekend. She motivates us to do what we really don't want to do (but know we need to do).
When she got back into town from Denver, she picked up Sonny and Cher and took them to her house (about an hour away from us). She takes Sonny everywhere and he thinks she is the best Nana ever...well, it does help that she takes him to get ice cream cones for late evening desserts. :-) And poor Cher, we've never been away from her this long and she is having to adjust to life with Mom's cats (actually Mom's cats are the ones to feel sorry for as it is their house and they really hate Sonny as he antagonizes them). But, Cher doesn't do well when she is away from Sonny. She cries for him at night, which while sounding sweet, is actually a PITA because she wakes you up and she is walking around looking for her best friend. They are the sweetest dog and cat combo I've ever seen, though. They give each other baths all of the time. I also frequently find them sleeping with their paws on top of each other. It's really odd to see a huge golden retriever and a little kitty behave like this, but it's true. :-)

I digress...I give my Mom credit for inspiring me to never give up. Never think that anything is impossible. I applied this as a child to being a good student, and then later to working hard to get college paid for with grants and scholarships. She taught me that in order to get something in life, you have to work hard for it. Honestly, I'm glad my parents didn't have money to send me to college, because it only made me study harder and work harder and appreciate my education even more. Then, through all the big adult decisions from moving to Florida for a couple of years, to changing jobs, to buying a house, etc. she has always been behind me every step of the way. My wedding was the best example: it was her wedding! I think it was probably one of the happiest times in her life. She planned a good majority of my wedding. I couldn't devote much time to it b/c I had a lot going on with selling my house, quitting one job, starting my current job, going away for training for 2 weeks, moving, etc. Oh, and I forgot to tell you that we only had a 5 month engagement b/c I wanted a September wedding! I thought it would be beautiful weather, but unfortunately it rained. But, our wedding was beautiful and I thought I'd throw a pic of our wedding on here at the beginning of the post.

Finally, through all of this infertility, she has supported both of us without question. She helps me to hang in there when I'm having rough days. And, as you all I know, I do have really tough days from time to time. I know someday I'll be a mother someway, somehow. I only hope that I can try to emulate my mother with my kids. I just can't imagine a better mother in the world than her...I love you Mom.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Stim check #4

I feel better, but it's been a really long day...

First off, we meet with the genetic counselor. We were so impressed with how intellegent she was (Masters in Genetics-so no wonder!) about everything and learned a lot. She had already looked over our case and suggested Micro-Array to us (loved the personalized care she showed). She said b/c we've never had an embie make it to blast and since this was a major concern for us, that she felt it would be a better choice for us than CGH. Micro-Array can be done on Day 1, 3, or 5 embryos. Obviously, Day 5 is preferable, however we're leaving it up to the embryologists to make the call on Day 3. If they look good, we'll continue to grow them out to Day 5, but if they have doubts, then we've also consented to a Day 3 biopsy. She told me that both CGH and Micro-Array were taking 6 weeks for results to come back. I thought Micro-Array took longer these days, but that's no longer the case according to her. We also signed consents for CGH as well, since that is what Dr. Sch had originally told me about and if we had Day 5 blasts, we could make the call at that point on which testing to go with. Our #1 concern over all of this is not having a good retrieval this cycle and having nothing to work with. She said she was surprised at my lack of progress so far as well, but that it was still really early. She said I could decide as late as the day after retrieval to do genetic testing. Of course, we want to do it if we have enough available.

We spoke at length with our IVF nurse about our concerns as well. She was so nice. She said she understood and that we were paying a lot of money and should feel happy with our care. She told me Dr. Gustofson would call me later today. Steve asked for another u/s and b/w today, even though they told us I didn't need a stim check originally today. She got her favorite (and apparently Dr. Sch's as well since she has worked with him since the beginning) ultrasonographer to do today's u/s. Apparently there is definitely a variance from one ultrasonographer to the next on what they measure, etc. We are showing slow, but consistent growth. I've now got 2 at 17mm, 2 at 16mm and several others hanging in there. E2=1092 today.

Dr. G told me that he feels like we are progressing at a consistent pace. He did say that he predicted we would forego the 17mms in order to get the majority of the follies at retrieval. He said that he predicted to get 15 eggs, but possibly more based on my high AFC. I feel good about that. He predicts that my E2 at trigger will be 3500-4000. He also is predicting either Tues or Wed retrieval.

One last note, I wanted to send a huge thanks to my friend Emily ("No Expectations Except a Baby"). When we checked into our hotel today (switched to our scheduled hotel now that the DNC is over), I received a huge box from her. It was a "CCRM Care Package" filled with all sorts of goodies from snacks to magazines, a book, a restaurant gift card, to Burt's Bee's lip balm! We are in awe of such a thoughtful gift! Steve was like a child (aren't all men), already eating the Goldfish Crackers before I had un-packed the box! Thank you so much Em. We really appreciate your kindness and incredible support. :-)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Stim check #3 and a big thank you!

I wanted to give a quick update: After 7.5 days of stims, my estrogen=611 (LH=0.8 and PG=0.2). I have several follies on the right ovary and the left ovary has the bigger follies (17, 15) plus a bunch of smaller ones. No med changes. I'm going to try speak to a doctor tomorrow (Dr. Schoolcraft is out of town for the holiday weekend) as I don't feel I'm progressing as I should be. I have a high AFC (25-30), so I think I should have many more (and larger) follies than they are counting on the u/s. Also, they have such a lack of uniformity in size, which is again different from IVF#1 and #2. I wonder if the dexamethasone is oversuppressing me and also wonder if I'm on enough stims...potential ER next Tuesday.

I'm just scared to death. I talked to one of my friends yesterday about how with IVF#1, I never thought for a second that we would fail. I assumed we would get pg (ha!). With IVF#2, I never felt confident that we would succeed and assumed failure for most of the time following my transfer. With this one, I just don't know. On one hand, I want to put complete trust and faith into the hands of CCRM and their magical lab and embryologists. But on the other hand, I have experience with this crap. And, I'm a person who likes to take control of a situation that appears to be going awry. Crap.

Now, my big thank you to each and every one of my blogger friends. I am utterly surprised every time I write a post that anyone ever even reads it, much less responds to me with such incredible kindness and support. I originally started a blog in order to jot my thoughts down (ie, journal) and planned to have a nice little journey from IF to pregnancy to baby. While that may still come true at some point in the future, the here and now is important too. So, I just wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for all the kind words and support you have shown me over the past several months. The kindness of complete strangers is at times one of the greatest gifts anyone can ever receive, so from the bottom of my heart, I thank you very, very much.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Stim check #2 update

My estrogen was 295 today (LH<0.4 and Prog<0.2), so no med changes. On my u/s, my lining has thickened to 8mm. On the left ovary, I have 4 follies measuring: 14, 13, and (2) 11mm as well as 4 smaller follies around 8mm. On the right ovary, I have 6 follies measuring: 13, 12, 11, and (3) 10mm as well as 4 smaller follies around 8mm or so. I was told to come back on Thursday for another stim check.

We were going in regardless on Thursday for my pre-IVF physical, Steve's back-up sample freeze in case there is a problem on the day of retrieval, and our meeting with one of the genetic counselors at CCRM. A very busy morning, indeed!

Had a blast with my Mom. I'm gonna post about that later. I had to take her to the airport early this morning, so I've been kinda lonely today. But, Steve arrives tomorrow night, so my alone time will be short-lived. Yeah!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

We are in Denver and stim check #1 update...

My Mom and I arrived last night into Denver. Everything went well with our travel. I did get stopped by security for my bag o' drugs. I immediately told the officer that I had needles, medicine, etc in the bag. Curiously enough, they were only interested in my ice packs at the bottom of the cooler. Hmmm....kinda worries me about national security, but oh well.

You guys know that the Democratic National Convention is being held this week in Denver. Lucky us. I booked the hotel where CCRM had rooms blocked, and while the suite is big and spacious, the hotel location kinda stinks. We are located right next to a control tower and the small Centennial airport. It's been really busy today with all the Democrats arriving on their private jets. They do have them you know, regardless of what they lead you to believe. And the funny thing is EVERYONE asks us if we are here for the DNC. I should lie. It would be sooo much easier. Instead, I stutter around and come up with some lame "visiting friends" story. I mean, I have spoken to several of the nurses and staff at CCRM friends, so that sorta works, right? I can't even easily lie and say "Yes, we are here for the DNC." Mom says it may be easier for us to say "Yes we are here for the DNC. We are the protesters. " LOL.

Disclaimer: This is my blog and these are my opinions and I realize they may differ from others, but I appreciate your respecting them.

Stim check #1: My u/s went well: I've got 10-11 follicles on the right ovary and I've got 8-9 follicles on the left ovary all measuring around 6-8mm. I'm glad that they are all around the same size, but worried that they should be a little bigger. Of course, I am on such small doses of stims that I was wondering if I'd have anything to show on the u/s, so I'm overall happy with the results. My uterine lining was good around 6mm.

The nurse called with my b/w results this afternoon: E2-121, Prog-<0.2 and LH=1. Nurse said all looked good and to continue on the Gonal-F 75 and Menopur 75 for the next day and a half. No appt. necessary tomorrow and I'll return on Tuesday morning for my next stim check appt. My previous IVFs were very different initial stim checks: IVF#1 E2-727 after 4 days of stims (but that cycle was a disaster, thank you very much Dr. Awadouchedag) and IVF#2 E2-223 after 4 days of stims (much better). I'm worried I should be closer to IVF#2s estrogen level. I know. I'm crazy. Trust the man. Stop obsessing. So that's it. Next update on Tuesday...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Green light: We are headed to Denver!!

Yahoo! Thank goodness! I'm so thrilled. Had my suppression check this morning at local RE office. My u/s looked great with roughly 16 antral follies, all at very small sizes. My lining was thin at 3.3mm--which is right on track. I really liked the nurse who did my u/s today. She was sooo nice, as was the rest of the office. I'm so glad to be forever done with Cincy!!

I got the call later about my labwork and I just can't believe it! My E2=16 (this is the lowest I can ever remember my estrogen being at a suppression check, which I hope means that my ovaries are ready to start getting cranked up)! My Progesterone=0.67 (CCRM wants it less than 1). But drumroll please.....TSH=1.012!!!!!!!! So in just a short amount of time, my thyroid listened to my compliance pleas and is totally in shape! CCRM ideally wants a level to be between 0.3-3.0, so mine is great! I will be dropping my dose from 50mcg to 25mcg of Synthroid as I don't want to have my level drop too low (per my Internal Medicine docs approval). That's it. Nothing else to do but start stims.

So, tomorrow morning I will be taking Menopur and then I'll take Gonal-F in the evening (along with the Lupron). While I'm not thrilled at the idea of taking 3 shots a day, it'll hopefully pay off with a great cycle. Please pray that this is the one for us!! Someone was telling me that Dr. Sch sounds like he is a wizard at all things related to infertility. I hope so!

"We're off to see the Wizard
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz...
Because, because, because, because, because
Because of the wonderful things he does."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Music and Infertility

I've got a bad case of insomnia right now. And, I can't get some songs out of my head. Does that ever happen to you? So, you know the old saying that if you can't sleep, then try to write down what's keeping you awake? Well, this is my attempt at just that....

There was a random question on the MSN board a few months ago about putting the stages/categories of IVF to various song titles. I love music, so naturally, I loved thinking of some of those titles. Since this is my blog, I'm changing some things to adapt to overall infertility. Let me give this a try...

The early days: "Whole Lotta Love" by Led Zeppelin
Clomid: "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley or Patsy Cline
IUIs: "Come As You Are" by Nirvana
Break Cycle attempts: "Hail Mary" by Tupac
AF: "Bitch" by Meredith Brooks

Now on to IVF:
Gearing up: "Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake (this one is for repeat offenders such as myself)
On BCPs: "Just Like A Pill" by Pink
On Lupron: "(Feeling) Hot, Hot, Hot" by Arrow (I was blessed with night sweats earlier--I think that's what woke me up in the first place)
FET cycle: "Don't You Forget About Me" by Simple Minds
Stimming: "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" by Pat Benatar
Trigger Day: "Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye (one needs Marvin's help here, 'cause nothing is sexy about timed intercourse)
Pre-op: "Comfortably Numb" by Pink Floyd
ER: "Be My Baby" by The Ronettes
Fertilization Reports: "Come Together" by The Beatles
ET: "(Hey Now You're An) Allstar (Get Your Game On, Go Play)" by Smash Mouth
2ww (or with genetic testing 4-6 week wait): "The Waiting Is The Hardest Part" by Tom Petty
On Progesterone: "Everybody Plays The Fool" by The Manhattans
HPT +/- Limbo Hell: "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak
BFNs: "Unbreak My Heart" by Toni Braxton
BFPs: "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N' Roses
On a Break/Cancelled cycle: "You Can't Always Get What You Want" by The Rolling Stones

The one song that can fit into every category: "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey

I can't think of any other categories. Can you? Any song titles you have come up with? This has been fun for me!!

I will pay for this insomnia later today. Oh well, at least it's Friday! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Needles, and syringes, and drugs! Oh, my!

Thought I'd start off with the obligatory IVF meds pic. I received a gigantic box with all my meds for IVF#3 last week. Looks like a lot of fun, right? I went back and checked out my pic for IVF#1. What a difference a couple of failed cycles make! Can't wait to try to fly with all of these meds...

I began my Lupron injections on Monday. So far, so good. I also started dexamethasone along with the Lupron. So, hopefully, I'll be adequately suppressed at my upcoming u/s and b/w check on Aug. 20. I received good news from the local RE's office yesterday--they can run stat TSH levels, so that gives Synthroid a couple of extra days to kick my thyroid back in to shape so that my cycle can continue as planned. I'm crossing fingers that it will be okay, however, if it's not, then I will just postpone everything for another month or so.

So, these are the easy days: only 1 shot. When stims start, I move to 3 shots per day! That's why there are so many syringes in the photo. I've got some mixing to do with the Menopur.

I've heard so many positive stories lately from CCRM IVFers. It truly sounds like a miracle place for girls that have had previous failures. I hope I can be lucky too and that the third time will be the charm for us.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Just when I think I'm back on track...

I really want to be a positive person. I really, really do. But I just don't know how much more I can take...

CCRM called and told me that I've got a TSH=3.87 from last Friday's b/w, indicating mild hypothroidism. Crap. Shit. Fuck. What else? After consulting with Dr. Google, it sometimes takes 6-8 weeks for the thyroid to kick in gear from being on Synthroid. Unfortunately, CCRM won't start stims until the level is at least down to 3.5. Problem? Umm...I'm scheduled to start stims on 8-21. If the level doesn't come down, I will have to be postponed. I cannot tell you how upset I am. We've got our plane tickets, room reservations, etc. Fuck.

Why? Why can't I get a fuckin' break? Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I somehow injured my neck and shoulder last week. I couldn't move my neck and it has been difficult driving (which is what I do for a living). Saw my internist and she thought that I've either got a herniated or bulging disc or possibly spinal stenois. So, I've been taking an anti-inflammatory during the day, Lortab and Zanaflex at night, and using heating pads to take away the pain while driving. The good news: I do feel better. And, I don't think I'll have to have a MRI. The bad news: basically, it's just the icing on the freakin' cake.

I think I'm losing my mind. I really do. I felt REALLY bad yesterday. I had difficulty finding words, numbness/tingling on left side, lightheadness, etc. I swear, I thought I was having a stroke. But, turns out, I think I was just hypoglycemic from the Metformin I started on Friday. Of course, I had to run to the nearest Pharmacy to buy a glucometer to check my glucose level. Easier said than done when you are disoriented. Glucose: 102. But, this was 5 hours after symptoms started and I had been drinking OJ to get the level back up. So, I think it was the Metformin after all.

Seriously? What next?

Friday, August 1, 2008

"Don't Stop Believin"

I've got some good news and I've got some bad news.

I'll start off with the bad news so that I can end on a positive note. Day 3 b/w did not turn out like myself or CCRM had expected. E2=46, LH=6.4, and FSH=14.3. I'm still in shock over the FSH level. My last FSH check was on 3-21-08 and it was 6.8! I don't have any signs of a "typical" high FSH patient. I stimulate really well (33 eggs on IVF#1 and 17 eggs on IVF#2). I also have a high AFC~25-30 and good AMH-4.2. So, I tried to wait patiently for Dr. Sch to give his final ruling on me. I worried so much yesterday that he wouldn't accept me anymore as a CCRM patient due to my "bad score." Then, one of my fave songs (okay to be honest, I have hundreds of faves, but still) came on the radio: Journey's "Don't Stop Believin." So, for the rest of the day, I tried to be more hopeful.

CCRM nurse called last night and Dr. Sch's verdict was: he's not overly concerned about the high FSH since it doesn't match with anything else my body seems to be doing. The nurse said he gives me 60% chance for pg. success. When I asked the nurse what that meant, she said "Well, we just told another 33 y/o with an FSH=12 that her chances were 40%." So, I guess they still think I've got a chance, so that's what I've got to keep believing as well. While a high FSH does reflect poor egg quality, he's not so sure that my high number of follies aren't driving up my FSH number. She went on to say that despite the FSH/LH ratio not definitely pointing to PCOS, he still thinks I either have PCOS or PC-like ovaries. Therefore, you guessed it: I'm starting Metformin today (provided my stat liver enzymes come back good).

My protocol won't change tremendously: I will still be doing the long Lupron protocol. However, he is starting me out on really, really low doses: Gonal-F 75 and Menopur 75. I've got to be checked after 3 days of stims and then they'll have a better picture of how to proceed. I'm so glad I'm cycling with CCRM. Even though PCOS is the most common cause of infertility, my old RE would've just put me through another IVF with no better answers. I also like being in Dr. Sch's care as I think he is as detail-oriented and probably as OCD as I am about everything...lol.

Okay, I don't think being diagnosed finally with PCOS is good news (just in case any of you thought I was finished). My good news: I won the trip to Los Cabos, Mexico!!!!!!!! The dates kinda stink with everything else going on with my IVF cycle, but I'm going to Mexico!!!!!!! We are staying at a fabulous hotel called Marquis Los Cabos Sept. 10-14. I should at least be home from Denver by Sept. 7th. Check it out at http://www.marquisloscabos.com/index.php. So, I'll be recovering from my ER on the beach!! Yeah!