Saturday, March 31, 2012

Soul Searching

Not sure even how to begin this post... maybe that's the reason behind my unplanned hiatus from blogging - I can't put more than one thought into some coherent order.

The last few weeks rocked us more than I dreamed they would. Of course, we all know heading into treatment that this may not work. However, I feel that you have to get to the best place you can mentally prior to beginning a cycle. Everyone's "best place mentally" may be different than someone elses yet it doesn't make one right and the other wrong - this whole path is so personal.

Looking back I feel that we did everything we could to ensure that this cycle could work. That it WOULD work. Last summer I joined a gym to do my part and get my body ready for IVF in January, and I was dedicated three times a week. No caffeine, started prenatals again - all months before our cycle even started. They were things that I could control. We see arguably the best RE in our area, great success rates, wonderful staff, etc. Again more things we could control.

However, when it comes down to it, I realize that there is very little about this process that we have ANY control over. The best diet, workout routine, protocol or RE can't give us any guarantee for the outcome that lies ahead of us. Don't get me wrong, I still feel these things are important, but small pieces of an ever complex puzzle.

I've spent the last few weeks digging for answers, for support. I've had dinner with friends, went back to HEAL (the support group we became a part of after our miscarriage), e-mailed an acquaintance about her IVF journey, researched online and anything else I could think of to try and clear my head of all these questions. While I haven't uncovered a miraculous nugget of truth, yet, I have gained support and direction.

At the prompting of some friends and our own thoughts, we've decided to get a second opionion from another RE. We don't have plans to switch doctors, just simply to see if he finds something we've missed. The nagging question over the last few weeks is have we been so focused on the known MFI issue that we've missed something else? According to my RE and what I can find medically, the miscarriage and the chemical pregnancy are "unrelated". But after two textbook IVF cycles, good fertilization rates with ICSI, quality embryos and smooth transfers, we're still falling on the wrong side of the statistics. I need to really know that these two things are "unrelated" before moving into an FET with our precious two embabies. We've got an appointment this coming Wednesday for a consultation with the new doctor. He also does acupuncture in his practice so maybe that's something to look into as well.

I've taken time recently to exchange e-mails with a family acquaintance who now lives in another state about their IVF journey - 6 IUI rounds, 1st IVF/ICSI transferred 2 (pregnant with twins, miscarried at 8 weeks) followed by a FET with early miscarriage/chem pregnancy. The e-mail I received back was one of the most beautiful things I've EVER read and was an amazing view of this journey. I cried reading it, and cried as I re-read it for the second and third times. There were parts of it that were hard to read. Let me share a few things that she wrote:

"During the process, I tried to be “open” to the message that this was giving me—I wondered whether it was supposed to mean that we should adopt and even discussed special needs kids given my professional background…and eventually what came to me was that I needed to learn patience and give up control over everything, trust others, have faith, accept help from others.  I think the journey can teach us each the lesson WE need.  Maybe your lesson is knowing when to give up or maybe it is when to persist in the face of defeat…you and Jeff can only answer that—and you may each have different answers.  That doesn’t mean one is right—you’ll just have to find a way to work through it."

Wow. I don't know that I've been very open to any lessons along the way. But sometimes we can't see those lessons while we're in them, we only see them when looking back on them. Something I realized when I read this part of her e-mail:

 "I can’t even name the ways in which the process changed me—it made me more appreciative of my friends, smiling strangers, it gave me a perspective on what grief and hopelessness really feels like, it makes me think twice when someone is snappy with me because I realize they might be in personal pain.  I love my kids a little deeper, I know what it feels like to love a doctor for the life they have given you and even the small moments of compassion they provided when we needed it.  It taught me to be an advocate for my health and my children’s health, it taught me what I really wanted in life and what I was willing to sacrifice to get it.  It brought people into my life that otherwise wouldn’t have.  It made me truly believe that small moments change your life—deciding for M to take a job in Cincinnati where we had IVF coverage (at a time when it was unusual and didn’t even consider it) and to Dr. A and ultimately to a world renowned high risk OB unit that allowed the trips to be born healthy…When a new acquaintance mentioned she had struggled with infertility and ultimately she directed me towards Dr. A… my best friend from HS offering to be a surrogate—something that makes me cry even now as I type it because it’s one of the most selfless gestures I have ever received.  It’s not that I am glad I went through the process because it was soooooooo hard and terrifying and sad—but besides having a healthy and loving family, I also received so much more from it.  Know that you are growing and stretching in a way that is necessary and good, even when it feels like you are making no forward progress.  It will be years or decades maybe before you can see it with perspective, but try to appreciate the little moments of grace as they are presented to you."

I don't know if those words affected you like they did me but this whole journey is taking on a new perspective for me lately. No, I don't like it and wouldn't have chosen it. Nor do I enjoy the strain it's put on my marriage and other relationships. But I can look back and see those special people that have come into my life and heart as a result of this path.

A friend I had known for years introduced me to a friend of hers also struggling through IF. That girl, H, has since become my closest friend and confidant. She and her husband had a failed IVF #1 right before Jeff and I did our first IVF and we've shared the ups and downs of this journey side-by-side. After the miscarriage we were introduced to a group here locally called HEAL that is a parent support group for families who've experienced miscarriage, neonatal death, infant loss, etc. I never saw myself going to something like that but it has been priceless for us. S, the lady who started the group is a nurse and had a son who was still born in 1988 and has since devoted her life to supporting and educating parents and also research to prevent these losses. Through her devastation, she has reached hundreds of families to help them through their darkest days - she has truly been an angel for us, very possibly one of the best people I've ever met. Through that group, we've met several other couples that we're becoming good friends with. I think once you've shared the darkest or hardest parts of your life with someone, everything else comes so easily. Another girl I've recently met through my sister and now they are scheduled for a consultation with Dr. S (at the clinic we go to) in the next few weeks about surrogacy. I also would never have "met" such wonderful people through blogging, and I count you guys in that group of special people as well.

I'm not sure that any of this flows together the way I would like it to, but I wanted to get some of those thoughts out and share them with you. Of course I'm not saying that everything is wonderful for us right now - we still have alot of rough moments and rough days. We're not out of the woods yet. But I wanted to share what was on my mind and heart.

I've got alot of catching up to do on everyone's blogs - I feel like an awful friend for being on hiatus for so long. I'm sure I've missed alot. Stick with me as I get back into the swing of things. I'll try not to fall off the planet again.

Monday, March 12, 2012

It's Official... BFN

I got the call pretty early this afternoon and my hcg level is down to two. That's it... it's over. I'm still having a hard time processing all of this. It's not supposed to be this hard.

The nurse that called was fine but just not the friendliest nurse either... of course I was obviously on edge too. She gave me the news, answered some of my questions about the cycle and an FET but said that we would need to start meds today for an FET since my period had started on Friday. That totally threw me off as I didn't think about it being that quick!!

After we hung up and Jeff and I talked, we both felt we wanted to talk to Dr. A before making a decision. So I called back, left a message that we had some questions and would like to talk to him. Don't you know the same nurse called me back?! Asked me what questions I had and she would try and answer them. Ugh! I just wanted to talk to my doctor. He was working from another location today and she said he wouldn't be able to call me back until tomorrow. I pressed her on it because I wanted to talk to him first and she said we needed to start meds tonight if we were moving forward. She then said it would "probably" be ok to wait on meds until tomorrow.

That did it for me. I said "With all the money we've spent with you guys and the money we're getting ready to spend, I'm not ok making a decision like this on 'probably'. I'm not trying to be rude and I know I'm emotional but I would think I'd be able to talk to my doctor for something like this." I think that's about the time I started crying and she seemed to soften up a little and said she'd be sure he called me today. She then became very helpful!

So, here's the info I got after my RE called me this evening:

He feels implantation did occur since we did have a slightly positive number. I'm sure it was higher a few days prior to the first beta since my period had already started by then. They classify it as a bio-chemical pregnancy which is what I thought happened based on how I felt last week and then the ensuing heavy bleeding (which he said was a good sign of implantation).

I asked his thoughts on moving immediately into our FET versus waiting a month and he said it was personal preference. They don't feel that one is better or more successful than the other, whatever we prefer.

We have two frozen embryos (blasts) and he said with an FET they would probably thaw both and transfer both if they both make it.

At this point we've had a successful IVF #1 followed by a miscarriage and a chemical after IVF #2. So of course I asked the question, is there something going on with me that we need to look into in more detail? I don't necessarily feel like there is but I had to ask. Our only known issue is MFI which we've overcome with the help of ICSI and resulting in perfectly "normal" embryos. He doesn't feel that there's an issue like that either, maybe based on how my body has responded to both cycles and my hormone levels, etc. Don't get me wrong, I certainly don't want another issue on top of this but at this point I just want some answers.

Jeff and I talked over the weekend about all of these questions and how soon we should look at an FET, since we basically already knew the results of this cycle. He felt we should go right into it but after more discussion tonight, I think we're going to give it a month in between. It's just too quick to go right back at it.

I don't think this has even completly sunk in for us yet and I'm not sure when it will. It seems surreal and like we're on the outside looking in at our lives with no control of any of it. The last few days have been a blur as we started to grieve but tried to hang on to hope as long as we could. It's been a weird mix of emotions these few days.

Just a month to clear our heads and take a little pressure off. We have a 4 day trip coming up in April and if we moved forward with an FET now, we would be due to get results during that trip. Neither one of us care to even cancel that trip completely but I think we need it. Some time for just the two of us to get away from it all, enjoy each other and have some fun.

We're still trying to wrap our heads around the whirlwind of the last few months and give our broken hearts a chance to heal up a little more before putting them out there one more time...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Beta = 11

Eleven. That's our beta # at 11dp5dt.

If you read my last post you know that some spotting started Friday morning and then let up. By Friday afternoon it was full on and I knew something was wrong. I called the nurse back and asked to go ahead with a blood test on Saturday instead of waiting until Monday. She agreed and set up the appointment for Saturday morning.

She called a few hours later and delivered the news. It came back with a low positive. 11.

It was news I was expecting at that point but "a low positive?"... what does that mean?! Does it mean that 3 days ago I was pregnant and now I'm not? I asked the nurse what it meant and she said it sounds like something (Zoom) tried to implant and take off but didn't make it.

I honestly haven't cried much because I'm still in shock with the whole thing. If I'm honest I've just been angry. I wasn't even crying writing this post until I typed our little nickname, Zoom.

The nurse told me to continue taking my Endometrin through Monday, just to be safe, because we "can't give up all hope yet." Of course I'm following those orders but I feel like I'm being strung along. Not by my doctor's office, I know this is out of their control, but by hope. That's the word that's kept us going over the last few years. The middle name we wanted to use if we had a little girl after IVF #1. The word I have tattooed on my left foot. But I don't know how much hope I have left.

They still want me to come back in on Monday for another beta to be sure what that number is doing. I'm not expecting much as it would take a miracle to change things now. Honestly I'm just scared that something else is going on and would require a D&C. I haven't even spoken of those fears to Jeff or anyone else. I don't want him to worry about it.

Based on the amount of bleeding I'm having, I don't think I need to worry about it. My periods are normally very light and this is anything but that.

I'm not sure where to go from here. Jeff and I have dealt with loss and grief before and we'll make it, but it's never easy. We deal with things so differently, but I think most couples are like that. I could stay on the couch and be angry, sad or whatever other emotion comes at the time while Jeff can't be cooped up that long. He just left to go for a drive just to get out of the house for a while and clear his head. I'm glad that we realize and respect our differences though.

I just don't know what I'm grieving at this point... a failed cycle, a chemical pregnancy... but maybe it doesn't matter. So many of us have grieved alot of different things and our grief is still valid. It could be a different scenario than someone else but the pain is no less real. That's what I love about this community.

I'll update again with our results tomorrow and hopefully we have more information.


This post wouldn't be complete though without a HUGE shout-out of congratulations to two of my cycle sisters who just got their BFP's!!!

Rachel at A Sarti Party (she does not have this info on her blog but you can email to congratulate her!)
Joys Truly at Gonna Do It For Baby 

I am truly happy for both of you ladies! I'm glad we've gotten to know each other through blogging and I'll still be following along. Live it up!! xoxo

Friday, March 9, 2012

Trying Not to Worry

We're 3 days away from our first beta and had a little bit of a scare. Last night, when I used my Endometrin before bed I noticed the slightest twinge of pink on the applicator. Of course I immediately wanted to freak out but I kept it together and went on to bed without even mentioning it to Jeff.

This morning I had some spotting on my liner and I got worried. I told Jeff about it, trying not to get too worked up, and he was calm and reassuring like he always is. Trying to remind me that they said some spotting could be "normal", whatever normal means in the IF and IVF world! I continued to have some light spotting the next hour or so accompanied by some cramping. But now, within the last hour, it seems to have let up if not gone completely.

I called the RE's office and one of the nurses called me back about 9:00. She was reassuring but didn't ease my fears completely. She said it can be normal, could be implantation bleeding but it could be my period also. I knew all of those things but it's still scary. We're trying to not get too worked up about it and stay as relaxed as we can.

We are 10dp5dt and my RE likes to wait a full two weeks before a blood test. The nurse said if it got worse to call them back and she did offer to get me in tomorrow for a blood test if we just couldn't stand it anymore.

Thankfully my boss is aware of this journey and is very supportive - so in the meantime, I'm working from home today in sweatpants and taking it easy as much as I can. I know it's out of my control at this point and I'm trying to stay positive.

Anybody else experienced this and still got a BFP?

Your prayers for me, Jeff and Zoom would be SO appreciated!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Moments of Impact

A few weeks ago, Jeff and I went to see "The Vow". By the way, this is not a "spoiler" at all so you can still read on even if you haven't seen it!

We both really liked the movie but the one thing I've continued to think about was a line by Channing Tatum's character. He said, "My theory is about moments, moments of impact. My theory is that these moments of impact, these flashes of high intensity that completely turn our lives upside down actually end up defining who we are. The thing is each one of us is the sum total of every moment that we’ve ever experienced with all the people we’ve ever known. And it’s these moments that become our history. Like our own personal greatest hits of memories that we play and replay in our minds over and over again."

Those words hit me like a ton of bricks sitting in that movie theater. We've experienced alot of moments of impact during our marriage and especially in the last few years, as I'm sure most of you have. The thing is, those moments of impact can be good or bad, life-altering or earth-shaking.

As I sat and thought about our own journey, specifically the last few years and our battle through infertility, I began to see some of those moments of impact.

I remembered sitting in my gyn office as he broke the news to me that we would "never" have kids on our own. It was supposed to be just my yearly checkup so obviously Jeff wasn't with me. As he went over the MFI numbers with me I remember sitting there crying, all the while knowing that I would have to break this news to my dear husband and I knew it would crush him. I left his office and just drove around for close to an hour, trying to wrap my mind around all of this and how in the world I could deliver this news to Jeff. As soon as I walked in the door he knew something was wrong and I started crying again as I tried to repeat a small amount of what the doctor said. Denial, anger, bitterness and sadness all rushed through our living room that night as we just sat and cried together all evening. A moment of impact.

I remembered just a few days before Christmas that year when my newly married sister and her husband announced to us that they were going to start ttc and didn't want to just surprise us with a pregnancy announcement. Within 2.5 short months they were pregnant and my mom and sister came over in person to tell me the news. Once again, I just sat and cried as I muttered some sort of phony congratulations until they left and Jeff and I again just cried together. Another moment of impact.

I remembered our first appt with our RE and the excitement that we felt about finally doing something. We had a goal and we now had a plan. Within a few months we were heading into our first IVF cycle and we were so happy! The cycle progressed smoothly and on January 3, 2011, we received the news that they cycle worked and we were pregnant with our first child! Another moment of impact.

I remembered the day we learned that precious baby no longer had a heartbeat and I began to miscarry that angel. That evening spent in the ER as I was in so much pain Jeff took me to the hospital and the ensuing days and weeks of depression, isolation, bitterness and anger. Another moment of impact.

I remembered a day just a few months ago that we ventured into the RE's office again to take another shot at fulfilling our dreams. I cried on the way to the appointment and again as we sat and talked with one of the nurses about our past and our plans for the future. Another moment of impact.

There's alot of life that I could share in between all of these things, but we all have these moments of impact that change our lives. They alter the course that we thought we had so perfectly navigated. They can fulfill our dreams or leave us devastated. They can bring us to our feet or drop us to our knees. And the truth is that all of those moments do define who we are.

Moments of impact.

You see, the thing with these moments is that you don't always know they're coming. Most of them come at us out of no where, leaving us off guard and unprepared for it's aftermath. But on occasion, we know one of those moments is lingering just around the corner and we're scared of which direction that moment will take us.

None of us could prepare ourselves for the roller-coaster that is IF and treatment. But we put our hopes and dreams out there one more time for the chance to finally make our dreams come true.

We've braved the scary awesome world that is IVF again and I'm writing this as we start week 2 of our 2ww. Week one held excitement and promise, week two finds me with questions and doubts. Don't get me wrong, that glimmer of hope is still holding on but if I'm honest, I'm scared.

I find myself bracing for next Monday's moment of impact. It's one of those that I know is coming but I can't predict which way it will go. I want to believe that Monday will bring the continuation of our dreams but there's no guarantee on this road. With every fiber of my being I want to believe that our baby is growing and will continue to be a part of our lives.

Why is it that when we know these moments are coming we automatically try to protect ourselves?

Maybe it's because those moments of impact truly do change our lives forever, one way or the other. Those of us on this road have been dealt more disappointment than any of us should ever have to face and it's hard to believe that our lives could soon change for the better.

So here we are, seven days away from that next moment of impact, hoping and praying that it catapults us into the next chapter of our dream.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Getting to Know Me

Hey ladies!! Things are good here, just trying to relax and enjoy this process that is the 2ww! I'm noticing a few "symptoms", occasionally crampy, tired, some nausea, etc. but of course us IF girls notice every little twinge! The nickname "Zoom" has certainly stuck, its a fun little name, I just pray that Zoom is snuggled in tight and this is the time we bring home baby.

We did have two other embryos that made it to blast stage so we were able to freeze them. It's just a nice little peace of mind if we need them. In a perfect world, it would be wonderful to bring Zoom home from this cycle and use those two to try again in the future for number two. That is our prayer!!

So, while we're waiting, Emily at A Blanket to Keep tagged me in this so here's some fun random facts about me!

1. What was your favorite book when you were a kid? As a little kid I loved books like "Golly Gump Swallowed A Fly" and anything Dr. Suess or Bearenstein Bears. A little older I loved "Anne of Greene Gables" and had a crush on the "Hardy Boys."

2. What is your favorite card or board game? The only card game I know how to play is Rummy and I'm not the best at it by any means! Not half bad at scrabble unless my parents are playing and they beat everyone!

3. What food do you absolutely refuse to eat? Sushi, calimari, squid, etc.

4. Where did you go on your last vacation? We went to D.C. and then on to a resort in Virginia the last week of August. We were actually only about 15 miles away from the epicenter of the earthquake in Virginia on August 23 (our anniversary). One of the aftershocks woke us up later that night, it shook the building we were in! It was one of the scariest things I've ever experienced, and the place we were staying in had some minor damage from it. (How's that for an interesting answer?!)

5. Do you have any siblings? Tell me about them. I have an older brother, married and also struggling with IF. I have a younger sister who has a 16 month old and is 25 weeks pregnant with #2. This one hasn't been easy but I'm so thankful that we've fought for our relationship and we are very close.

6. What house hold chore do you hate the most? Washing dishes and cleaning the bathtub! The dishwasher may be one of the greates inventions known to man!

7. Cake or Pie? Both. Cheesecake and Apple Pie

8. If you could go to any country all expenses paid for 2 weeks where would you go? Australia, hands-down! I've always wanted to go there. Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, see a kangaroo... aaahhh... my dream vacation!

9. If you could have any animal as a pet what would it be? A monkey. I begged my dad for a pet monkey when I was little and he wouldn't budge. Only to find out he had a pet monkey when he was a kid!

10. If you were a pirate and had to have one, which would you choose, a peg leg or a hook for a hand? Well, if I had to be a pirate I would be Captain Jack Sparrow! Or maybe I would just be his fair lady... he is so stinkin cute in those movies!

11. If you could have a super power what would you choose? I would be a genie, even if I could only grant one wish per person and then none of us would still be fighting this battle with IF. Just think of all the lives I could change!!
So, if you'd like to keep it going, here are my questions for
1. What's your favorite chick flick?
2. Your favorite song from high school?
3. Do you still live in the same area you were born in?
4. Tell me about how you met your husband?
5. What was the color theme in your wedding?
6. Who's your celebrity crush?
7. What's your favorite hobby?
8. Barefoot or flip-flops?
9. Beach vacation or sightseeing?
10. What have you gained from blogging about IF?
11. What have you learned from your battle with IF?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Transfer Day!!!

We're home from our transfer!! Everything went well and I am laying on the couch catching up on my blogs!

One of the nurses took us to a room where we could both change and she went over all of our instructions. Basically, rest today, continue prenatal vitamins and conitinue Endometrin.

We both changed into our scrubs and they took us back. Dr A came in with a picture of the best two of our embabies. Of course, they are beautiful! Then he asked how many we wanted to transfer. Through this whole process, we planned on transferring two. And we transferred two last time.

I responded with "two" but that wasn't set in stone, and we asked what he would recommend. Since the embryos were high quality and made it to a day 5 transfer, he recommended that we only transfer one. I asked what our "chances" of pregnancy would be with one versus two and he felt that it would be about the same. He showed some concern at the idea of me carrying twins (my size) and the increased risk for complications. Because of my small build, he was concerned about late term complications. And we've had one miscarriage. I understand his concern, these are things I've certainly thought about too. I'm small and I'm sure it could be hard. Hard on me, hard on them.

He made a point to stop and ask Jeff what his thoughts were which really meant alot to me. Jeff replied that he wanted whatever was best for me. As much as we want a baby, we don't want to make an irrational decision against our doctor's recommendations. What is it about IF...? we're forced to make  big decisions in small amounts of time with small pieces of information.

Dr A was great to let us ask questions and took his time to answer them honestly. As of right now, it looks like we still have 3 embabies growing and they will (hopefully) be frozen tomorrow (full blastocyst stage).

So... we took his advice and transferred one perfect little embryo! While he was doing the transfer, Dr. A. was talking and as this little guy showed up on the ultrasound screen he called him Zoom! Who knows where that came from but we all laughed and now we have our babies nickname... meet Zoom!

We're very excited and in love with him already!

Of course, in the back of my head I keep wondering if we made the right decision on transferring one but I feel like we did. With our doctor's advice we made the decision we felt was right for us. Again, big decisions, small amounts of time.

We're praying that Zoom is digging in for the next 9 months and that those remaining embabies keep growing. In a perfect world, it would be nice to have one baby and then do a FET to try for another. We're just taking it one day at a time and enjoying where we are right now.

Thank you for all your thoughts, prayers and well-wishes! It's nice to have so many people cheering us along on this journey.