Frozen Babies

“Frozen Babies” isn’t just an intriguing title I thought up, it is exactly what I’m about to describe.  If anyone told me that Dan and I would now be putting our hopes for a family in tiny 3 days grown embryos (babies) that are frozen in a freezer somewhere in a fertility lab, I think I would have fainted.

However, here we are.

After my negotiated waiting time of six weeks, I was finally starting to feel a little bit like me again.  The massive bloating, aches and pains had subsided after about 3 or so weeks.  My bruises had disappeared.  And perhaps more importantly, my heart had begun to heal.  I was filled with hope again and was looking forward to getting going.

I work long hard hours at my job and had accumulated a whole lot of vacation and comp time.  As Dan had just opened his business, he was unable to take any time off.  He, being the amazing guy I married, encouraged me to take my vacation and go up north, to our family cottage in Muskoka, to take some time to truly relax.  My parents were also on vacation so I could spend some quality family time.  I was loving my time up north and was spending my days reading a book on the dock in the sun.   On July 26th, I drove the 3.25 hours home for our long awaited fertility check up. 

I did my blood work and transvaginal ultrasound, and patiently waited for the results.  Our RE indicated that if my hormone levels had not settled or my lining was still thick, we would have to continue to wait.  Our RE popped in with a smile.  He said my tests were back to normal and we had the green light to get started.

Today was officially Cycle Day 1.  He called in a nurse to explain how a Frozen Embryo Transfer worked.  This was all new to me.  She gave me the good news- Frozen Embryo Transfers, or FET, were generally like a fertility holiday compared to the pain and procedures needed to do a fresh cycle of IVF. 

This time, we already had the eggs that were previously extracted.  They had already been fertilized and made it through 3 days of growth. It was at this point when the lab took them and cytogenetically froze the living embryos.  The fertility community calls these various things, my two favourite are ‘frosties’ or ‘popsicles’.  

I don’t really know how to morally explain what I think about this… The easy answer is that it’s easy to judge this when you aren’t backed into a corner.  I would have loved to have had an opinion before on FET just to compare it with now- but frankly, I’d never heard of it!  Now, this was our only shot.  The end result, however, was that we felt comfortable going ahead with this process as the other option would have been to grow all the embryos, select the best two, then let the rest die.  Embryos can only live outside of the body for a short period of time. 

So, we had the babies ready to transfer.  We just had to build my uterus to get nice and thick.  I needed to trick my body into thinking I was in the middle of a ‘normal’ cycle so that my body created a welcoming environment for the embryos. 

The first stop was to the cash register and we had to pay the clinic prior to going ahead with the treatment.  Cha-ching $$!  I can’t recall exactly, however I believe the cost of the actual procedure wasn’t that bad, somewhere around $1500.

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Next was a trip to the pharmacy in the clinic to buy medication ($$$!).  In order to get my body to start to build a thick cushion for an embryo to stick to, I needed to start taking Estrogen supplements.  These were little blue pills (not THOSE little blue pills!). 

The deal was that I was to take one pill in the morning, and one at night for 10 days (total 4mg a day).  Then, on CD 10, I would come back to the clinic to check on my uterine lining.  The goal was to get it over 8mm but no more than 14mm.  I was sitting around 4 mm and had a bit to go.  The hope was by CD 10 my lining was thick and we could do the transfer 2 days later. 

I didn’t have to come back to the clinic for 10 days?  Hell, this WAS vacation.  I could do it.  So I went down to Pita Pit to visit Dan and his new store, had lunch, then drove the 3.25 hours back to the cottage.  I spent the next 10 days taking my pills as required and enjoying the sunshine and family time at the cottage.  My Dad knowing how much I hate driving, offered to drive me down and back for my CD 10 appointment.  The only issue was that the appointment was for 8am.  So off we left at 4:30 am to make the 8am appointment. 

CD 10: Blood work and Transvaginal Ultrasound.

I waited on the results in the clinical room while my dad slept in the car.  The idea of joining his daughter in the clinic for an appointment to try and get pregnant perhaps was where the line was drawn.  My Dad and I are very close, but discussing transvaginal ultrasounds perhaps was a bit too close.

The RE walked in with bad news.  My lining had not grown, at all.  I was on a low dose, however many patients react to only 2 mg of estrace (estrogen).  I was on 4.  She upped my dose from 4mg to 8mg daily.  Now 2 pills in the morning, 2 pills at night.  I had to come back in 2 days.

Upset that the ‘easy’ part of this treatment was, yet again, not so easy for me, I walked back to the car to tell my dad the bad news.  I was so hopeful and excited about this round.  It was going to be easy and quick… and successful.  This was not the start we planned.

We hopped back in the car and drove back to the cottage.  By noon, we were back at the cottage and I was trying to forget that my stupid body that hated me.  It wasn’t so easy.  My hope and excitement quickly turned to dread and worries.  Was this going be as bad as the other rounds?  Quite frankly, the ups and downs of hope then disappointment when my body refused to cooperate were untenable. 

CD12: Another 3.25 hours drive leaving the house at 4:30am to make the 8am appointment.  Blood Work and Transvaginal ultrasound.

More bad news… My lining has grown, but hardly.  I was at 4mm and needed to progress to at least 8mm.  I was now at 4.5mm.  Greattt.

The RE then decided we were going to get aggressive.  She knew my story of extremely long cycles with no luck from previously and wanted to try to get my body ready asap.  I think my defeated face when she told me the 4.5mm also helped.

She was now doubling my dose.  I was on 2 pills in the morning and at night for 8mg daily.  Now I was up to 4 in the morning and 4 at night (16mg daily… aka a LOT!).  The second change was that instead of taking them orally, I was to insert them vaginally.  She said this was a better way to absorb them and would hopefully kick start everything.

I walked down to the pharmacy and purchased more meds then hopped back in the car for another 3.25 hour trip back up north.  We were back up north by noon and I was already trying to forget fertility.  It didn’t work. 

The idea of inserting these pills vaginally was a new one for me… uhhhh, ok.  Like do I literally just shove them up there?  The answer was yes.  But the best part was they are blue… and so from this point forward, everything was blue.  Trust me, it gives you a jolt when you urinate blue… Wonderful- I’m now a smurf.  A non-pregnant smurf.

My vacation was ending and on CD 14 I drove home to the clinic for another appointment. 

CD 14: Blood Work and Transvaginal Ultrasound

It worked!  My lining was now up to 8mm and we were cooking with gas!  We were ready to go.  The nurse came in to explain the rest.  She explained that tomorrow the lab would choose two of the four remaining embryos and thaw them.  Thawing embryos was not an exact science so we just had to hope.  There was a very good chance that one or both may not survive the thawing.  The clinic would call us once thawed and let us know how it went.  If one died, we could always select another one to thaw out as we did have 4 left. 

Additionally, I was now to start giving myself progesterone suppositories to mimic the progesterone that is normally released by a bursting follicle.  These suppositories were three times daily… vaginally.  Then the fun part, the nurse explained that we had to have at least 2 hours between when I inserted the estrogen and the progesterone so they would both absorb.  Superb… a party in my pants!

My new schedule:

8am – Progesterone Suppository (white chalky pill)

11am – 4 estrogen tablets (little blue pills)

3pm – Progesterone Suppository

8pm – 4 Estrogen Tablets

10pm – Progesterone Suppository

Wonderful… I literally had to set alarms on my cell phone and spent the majority of my day running to the washroom with my purse.  Furthermore, the estrogen was now taking full effect on my body.  My levels had sky rocketed and everything now ached.  Even lightly brushing my body felt like you were stabbing me with knives.  I couldn’t sleep because of the aches and pains.  Not to mention, welcome back emotional hell!

CD 15: The lab called with the news.  One embryo survived the thaw perfectly.  It was now growing in an incubator and was doing great.  The bad news was that our other embryo that was a 12 cell previously, was not doing well.  10 of the 12 cells had arrested during the thaw and we only had 2 left.  The chances of this embryo implanting (and getting me pregnant) were very unlikely. 

Hearing this news I started to cry.  Can nothing just go as it should?  Why does everything have to have some bad news component to it?  This also meant very hard decisions.  The clinic explained that they would still recommend transferring both embryos tomorrow- there was something called a ‘buddy’ effect and the second embryo might assist the healthy one in implanting.  The other option however, was to let this one arrest (die) and try and thaw out another one from our remaining two.  There was no guarantee that the new one would survive, and that would mean we’d only have one embryo left in case this round of FET didn’t work.

How do you make these impossible decisions?  We decided to hedge our bets with the one healthy ‘frostie’ and one not so great ‘frostie’.  Now we wait for tomorrow to do the transfer. 

This could be it… we are getting pregnant!

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6 Weeks of Waiting…

The good news: It was summer and I could head up north to the cottage (in Muskoka) to try and get that rest and relaxation that I so desperately need.

The bad news: I couldn’t get fertility and baby making off my mind! …every. single. thought. was on my empty uterus.

As a 26 year old woman it is pretty much impossible to get away from pregnancy announcements, baby bumps, baby showers, and adorably cute kids.  Perhaps the worst place to be is the wonderful- yet terrible place if you’re barren- Facebook.  Without a word of a lie, I believe that at least one person, a week, was posting cute news ways to announce they are pregnant- screw you Pinterest for your awesome pregnancy announcement ideas.  The worst part was the the stupid announcements were awesome- photo shoots, older siblings with signs, and baby bumps galore.  I full out admit, I was so green with envy that some days I threw my lap top across the couch.

It seemed to depend on the day… Some days I could actually manage to ‘like’ the post and think like a normal person and be happy for them.  Other days a pregnancy announcement would immediately reduce me to tears.  How was it possible that every other person in the entire world looks at a penis and gets pregnant when we actually put two living embryos (babies!) in my belly and it still didn’t work?

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Minus the 30s part…. My life!

Dan would tell me to maybe take a break from Facebook… try to focus on other things and enjoy our small break.  Yes, a break.  Well it took a good couple weeks for me to start to feel normal again.  By about 2 weeks after our BFN (big fat negative), the hormones were officially out of my system and my distended belly had shrunk back to it’s chubby (but normal) size.  (Thanks to IVF, I’d definitely put on an additional 20 or so pounds by now).

We tried to make the most of this time, however, this was also the exact time that we were officially opening the doors to our Pita Pit!  An incredibly busy time for us but also a huge step forward- Dan’s hard work and business sense had finally taken form and we could open up the doors!

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Pita Pit Dundas- Opened in July 2013

Deleting my Facebook account wasn’t going to happen.  I enjoyed connecting with friends and family that was living away from Ontario ( Hi Amy! ).  And I couldn’t exactly block any person that could potentially become pregnanct bewteen the ages of 18-40- there goes 90% of my facebook…. This is when I had my fabulous and genius idea that we should be able to have a timeline blocker- put in keywords that you do not want to hear about, then it automatically hides those from your timeline.  Seriously Facebook… an awesome idea!  LOL

And perhaps there should also be a way for me to be forced not to click on the ‘kids’ subsection of Pinterest.  Oh, and stop reading magazines with every star’s new baby announcements.  Ok… I get it.  I need self control.

But alas, it appeared I just needed to focus on the good things in our life.  We were starting a new business, had great jobs, a beautiful new home, two of the cutest dogs, not to mention an amazing base of family and friends.  Focus on the good, not the bad.  We had so much to be thankful for, just focus on that.

Easier said than done.  The empty hole in my stomach seemed to take over everything.

Around this time, my Aunt sent me ‘The Serenity Prayer’ which became my new go to in times of sadness and jealousy.  We can do this…!

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Reinhold Niebuhr

Our WTF Appointment

I believe the official medical terminology for this type of appointment is called a ‘follow-up’.  However, the fertility community endearingly refers to the appointment right after a failed IVF cycle as a WTF appointment.  For good reason.

Dan and I, after over 2.5 months of one IVF cycle, just got the devastating news that we aren’t pregnant.  It didn’t work.

After the initial shock of the phone call, I started into a cycle of complete disbelief.  I really really thought this one would work.  We did everything right.  I obeyed every recommendation of the doctors.  We endured physical and emotional hell… it was supposed to work.  We had fabulous embryos.  They were perfect quality.  They were doing great.  There was TWO of them… double the chance of success.  My lining was thick.  I took every suppository at the exact correct timing- several times a day.  I didn’t drink caffeine, didn’t drink alcohol, didn’t smoke, tried my best to stay stress free.  Did I go back to work too soon?  Was I under too much stress because of the move?  Did the stress from the terrible egg retrieval cause something not to work?  We must have done something wrong, right?

We had our wtf appointment just 3 days after we found out the bad news.  I walked into the appointment with so many questions-  I have actually typed out the list as it’s impossible to remember everything once you sit down. Our RE wasn’t surprised at my typed list and with a half smile said, “Ok Adele, what have you got?”.

The easiest question was what went wrong?  This was also the hardest answer.  The RE explained that we could track and evaluate everything throughout the entire process until you actually put the embryos into my body.  After that, we can only hope and guess.  He said there could have been a problem with the embryos, there could have been a problem with my lining, my body may have just rejected them for unknown reasons… or maybe there was nothing wrong at all and it was just terrible luck.

After all the money we spent and all the degrees behind his name, the best answer we could get was… ‘well, we don’t know.’  REALLY?

All of my list of questions went out the window.  The answer to basically all of them was ‘I don’t know’.  Our doc told us there was no medical reason why were currently weren’t pregnant.  Even though we had numerous issues throughout the process, none of the them should have affected the final outcome.

Greaaaat.  So what now?

The first thing the doc told us was that my body desperately needed a break.  After over 6 months of injecting incredible amounts of medications into my body, it had had enough.  We needed a break.  The RE suggested we give it 8 weeks to get all of the chemicals etc out of my body.  I’m not the best at waiting so I suggested a counter offer of 4 weeks.  He laughed at me and shook his head- apparently patients don’t generally bargain with their doctors.  The final word was he would meet me in the middle at 6 weeks.  However, the deal was that I would have to come in at 6 weeks and have my blood work and a transvaginal ultrasound done.  If everything was back to where my baseline numbers should be, then he would give the okay to get going again.

But what did get going again mean?

We were about to go into a new round of treatment, again.  This time it is called a “Frozen Embryo Transfer” (FET).  The theory here was that we were able to extract 6 good eggs and fertilize them.  We grew all six embryos for 3 days then implanted the two fresh embryos into me.  However, we still had 4 embryos left.  We opted to freeze the other four.  We were now going to thaw out another two embryos, and hope they survive the thaw.  If they did, then we’d implant them into me again.

Now, just wait six weeks and pray my body goes back to normal.  … six weeks….  A long time when you want to be pregnant yesterday.  However, it was also six weeks for us to try and save up what money we could for further treatments.  Patience… not my strong suit.

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My life in a nut shell.

(In)fertility from a Guy’s Perspective

For those of who who know me, you know that Dan and I are polar opposites. I’m loud, energetic, talkative, very opinionated, and cannot relax.  Dan is quiet- bordering on shy, calm, and avoids conflict like the plague.  Sometimes I laugh when I think about different we are.  However, in the grand scheme of things, I believe that is part of why we have such an amazing marriage.

Dan has an amazing ability to clam me down, rationalize another perspective, and keep me grounded.  I like to think that I help bring his other traits out too.

Fertility has this amazing way of making you feel utterly alone.  The medical issues that are preventing us from conceiving are all on me.  Dan says ‘we’, but frankly it’s semantics. I have the issues.  Regardless of who has the issues, the women is most often put through the ringer to get to that seemingly impossible end of the road- a baby.  It’s the woman who has to do cycle monitoring, take injections, have tests, and take the brunt of the procedures.  If my end of the bargain was to jerk off into a cup, hey, sign me up!

While it doesn’t seem fair that the bulk of the work is on my side, that’s how it works.  More than once I’ve had the ‘woe is me’ pity party about how much it sucks and how I just wish Dan had to do something too.  It seems odd in retrospect, I’m not sure why I’d want anyone to endure what I have had to- especially not Dan.  But in the moment, I just wanted to break… but also to keep going forward through fertility.  Again- two polar opposite things.

Dan stood beside me every step of the way.  He attended appointments, assisted with injections, catered to my every whim when I was sicker than I ever have been, but it didn’t seem to matter.  I felt alone. 

We were experiencing two completely different things, yet walking down the same journey.  I felt depressed, useless, and angry with myself and my body from failing to do the most simple ‘womanly’ task.  In these moments, I felt bitter that Dan got to continue with life.  He got to go to work and take his mind off things.  I had to schedule my work around my appointments, medications, and illness.  It was absolutely impossible for me to do anything without fertility coming into play.  I felt like he got a free ride sometimes.

I was pissed and pitiful.  This wasn’t fair.  It wasn’t fair that we had to do this.  It wasn’t fair that my body was broken.  It wasn’t fair that I had to do everything.

And poor Dan, I let him know it.  It took me, in one of my not-so-glorious moments fueled with excessive hormones, to get that even though Dan wasn’t going through the same exact thing as me, he was going through it in his own way.  He was trying not to get down he explained, because he felt that I needed him to be strong to keep me going.  My anger towards him because he was smiling and was talking about his day was because I felt like he could just turn off fertility and have a lovely afternoon.  To him, he was trying to take my mind of things and keep my positive.  He truly felt like this was a ‘we’ situation.

One evening in bed after yet another day of bad news, I remember telling him it was ok for him to leave me.  I’d be devastated, but I know having a family was important to him.  If I wasn’t going to be able to do that for us, perhaps her could fulfill that dream with someone else.  He looked me straight in the eye and told me that having a family with me was his dream.  And no matter what happened, we would have a family.  We just didn’t know exactly how we’d get there yet.

 

Throughout this journey, I’ve continued to have moments when I felt as if I’m completely alone.  However, when I started to get down, I always think back to what he told me that night as he held me through my sobbing.  We are in this together- and we make an awesome team.

 

Dan isn’t a talker, never mind a writer.  I asked (read: forced) him into answering a couple directed questions about fertility.  Here were his answers:

What is the hardest part of fertility?

Dan: Watching Adele get disappointed over and over again. I can deal with my disappointments but I wish I knew how cheer her up after we get bad news.

 

What was a lighter moment you remember?

Dan: I tried to lighten up the mood when I could so when Adele would moan “ohhhh” because she was cramping up, I would finish with ….”Varies”.  (‘Ovaries’) Then we would laugh.

 

Do you think you would feel differently about fertility if the medical issues were your medical issues?

Dan: Adele is a stronger person than me, so if the medical issues were mine and I had to give my self needles and medication as much as she is, I would cry a lot!  As far as the issue of fertility as a whole, it is something we both have to go through so we are doing this together.

 

How do you feel about telling people about our story?

Dan: Not unlike myself before we started, a lot of people are ignorant to what fertility treatment is actually like.  Adele telling our story, not only educates those who want to know more about what we are going though, but also gives those who are going through similar circumstances something to relate with.  Adele found a lot of strength in finding groups online where she could read stories and share our day-to-day status. 

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People I want to punch….

Dan says my title is mean.  Perhaps a better title: “Things you don’t say to a person dealing with fertility issues… and how you might be able to help”.  However, for the record, I still like mine better.

 

 

When it comes to fertility, I would say the world is divided into four groups of people. 

 

Group 1 are the people that don’t know you’re going through fertility treatments and don’t care you’re going through fertility treatments.

Group 2 are the people that knew you’re going through fertility treatments but find it really awkward to talk about my useless reproductive organs.  So they just pretend to be in Group 1.

 

Group 3 are my favourite.  These are the people that know you’re going through fertility treatments and support you through it.  They are there as the shoulder to cry on, a sounding board for ideas, and understanding that they, who are not going through the same issues, don’t completely understand it, but sympathize with you.

 

Group 4 … oh Group 4.  These are the people who know what’s going on and try to say supportive things but they just end up putting their foot in the mouth.  You know, the ones who offer the best advice but know nothing about the situation.  Or worse, they try to empathize with you… but empathy, by definition, means that you know what it feels like to be me.  Please, please, please…. Don’t get sympathy (acknowledging another’s hardships and providing comfort or assurance) and empathy confused.

 

 

 

Here are a few of my favourite quotes from members of the above Group 4*.  If you happened to have said one of these to me, no worries.  I know, in most cases anyways, that you probably didn’t mean to make me mad, you were trying to be encouraging.  However, perhaps the bottom section will help you out for next time.
*Disclaimer:  All of the below have actually been said… to my face.

 

·      Have you tried just to relax?  The minute you stop trying, you will get pregnant!

 

Listen, I hear you.  Your cousin’s uncle’s step sister’s friend tried for 3 years to get pregnant.  Then they decided to stop trying and she was pregnant literally the next day.  However, our fertility issues are not just bad luck or bad timing.  We have serious medical reasons that we are unable to get pregnant.  While you’re optimism and hope are helpful, the suggestion that ‘giving up’ is the best answer… probably isn’t.  If giving up would have worked- trust me, I would have saved my money.

 

 

 

·      Have you ever considered that you might just not be meant to have children? (Another variation: Perhaps it wasn’t God’s plan for you to be a parent?)

 

Wow.  Ummm… what does one say to this?  Thanks?  My fertility status doesn’t actually determine my ability to be, or not to be, a good parent!  And unless you’re God, perhaps you also don’t know his plan… just sayin’.

 

 

 

·      Everything happens for a reason!

 

Oh, okay.  I guess I should be happy my uterus is useless?  Thanks.  I feel so much better.

 

 

 

·      Don’t worry.  I completely understand.  It took my husband and I FIVE months to get pregnant. 

 

I appreciate that trying for several months to conceive can be frustrating, however, having sex with your partner in no way compares to a medical diagnosis of infertility.  Not to mention the daily tests, bills, emotional, and physical hell that fertility treatments entail.  I get that you are probably trying to be helpful, but comparing situations isn’t always the best way to go about it.

 

 

 

·       Have you tried (insert a variety of herbal remedies, old wives tales, and weird superstitious things here).

 

I promise, we’re giving this is the best shot possible.  We have a team of Doctors, Nurses, Acupuncturists, Nutritionists, and Lab Technicians that specialize in fertility.  I’m not just deciding to not take their advice.  If it has been done and proven to assist, we’ve probably tried it!

 

 

 

·       Thank Goodness you’re so young!  You still have plenty of time.

 

Indeed, we’re young.  However a medical diagnosis of infertility doesn’t make a difference if you’re 26 or 46.  My reproductive system sucks.  I guess we do have time on our side in the sense we found out early, but time unfortunately isn’t going to reverse this diagnosis.

 

 

 

·       You’ve only been trying for a year and a half?  That’s not that long.

 

Also true.  It isn’t that long.  But trust me, if it’s you and fertility has completely taken over your entire life for the past 1.5 years… and every decision you make is based on fertility, it seems like a lifetime.  Sorry, can’t afford organic apples, we’re saving for fertility.  Sorry, can’t go away for the long weekend, I have to go the clinic every morning.  Sorry, didn’t answer the phone cause I’m currently in the fetal position in my bed crying from the physical symptoms of fertility medications.  You get the picture.

 

        ·       You’re STILL not pregnant?

      Nope.  Thanks for reminding me.

 

 ·       Why don’t you just adopt?

 

Adoption is actually pretty awesome.  However it also isn’t as easy as deciding to adopt and getting a baby.  International adoption is an remarkable option for many couples.  While it’s expensive, you can often have shorter wait times.  The problem for us is that my history of mental illness excludes us from adopting from almost 90% of countries with mutual agreements with Canada.  Then we move to adoption in Canada.  Public isn’t easy and often times are not babies.  Private is expensive and the majority of agreements are open adoptions- a big decision to make.  So while it may be where we end up, it’s not an easy road either.

 

As you can imagine, most people have an opinion on fertility and fertility treatments.  And that’s okay.  However, I thought instead of ranting incessantly about what you shouldn’t say, perhaps it would be better to provide some helpful ways in which you can provide support to people struggling with fertility issues.  I have read several posts from various writers, however, here are some that rang true for me.

 

1.    Spend a little time understanding fertility

 

No one expects that you understand the world of fertility, because frankly, I didn’t know anything about it either.  However, spending a little time reading up on the procedures that the couple may be going through and understanding the basics can go a long way.  Knowledge is power- with it will mostly likely come compassion and understanding. 

 

2.    Respect our Decisions (Even if we change our minds!)

 

Very rarely are decisions surrounding fertility easy.  The decisions often have complex emotional, physical, financial, and ethical implications.  Trust me on this one, we have put countless hours into research, getting the proper medical opinions, and weighing heavily on our morals and values.  We did not make these decisions lightly.  Even though you may not understand, or agree with our decisions, please respect them. 

 

3.    Ask us!

 

Please don’t be afraid to ask us questions.  If we have shared with you that we are going through this journey, chances are, we are ok answering some questions.  There is no such thing as a stupid question- and this is a complex issue. 

 

4.    Please tell me that you’re going to keep us in your thoughts or prayers.  Then do it!

 

A simple note, message, or text saying that you’re thinking about us are some of the most encouraging and supportive ways that people have reached out.   I love to hear that others are wishing us well- it makes me feel like we have a support system surrounding us.  

 

5.    Acknowledge our struggles, courage and determination

 

As Tanya said in her blog ‘Fertile Healing’, “Acknowledge that infertility is really hard – and that you can not understand the depth of the grief if you haven’t been through it (because truly you can’t).  Please do not try to compare the difficulty of infertility with the difficulty of raising children, that is just rubbing salt into the wound.”

 

6.    Include me, but understand when I choose to opt out

 

Baby showers, christenings, children’s birthday parties, ‘baby’ talk, and children centred holidays such as Halloween can be some of the toughest social situations to participate in.  There is the balance between being excited for someone on their exciting news or celebration, and it reminding you of everything that you can’t have.

 

7.    Think twice before giving me your recommendations on our next steps

 

It’s easy to fall into the trap of coming up with countless resolutions to fix your friend’s problems- we are just trying to help!  Remember, this is an extremely complex issue and we are doing all we can.  Sometimes, the best thing you could ever offer is just to sit and listen.

 

8.    Break your news to us privately

 

Just because we aren’t pregnant doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be.  But know that it is really hard to see couples that are recently married popping out baby number 2 while we are still treading water not getting anywhere.  Most times, I just need some time to digest.  Please, please, don’t keep the news from me or let me hear it from someone else.  I just need to take a minute to grieve for us before I can move forward and be excited for you.

 

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Fertility is a very complex issue and because of the negative stigma that our society has created, most aren’t open to discussing it.  Hopefully, the above will help you in the future when these complex and emotionally charged discussions take place!

 

2WW… Number 2 (Two Week Wait)

After the devastating result of our first IUI, I was being cautiously optimistic after our IVF.  The clinic ended up transferring 2 top grade embryos.  They were both Day 3 embryos meaning they had a good growing start.

 

Generally speaking, you can have either 3 day embryos, or 5 day embryos to transfer.  The older the embryos are, the better the chances of success.  The problem is that the longer you grow the embryos outside of the body, the larger the chance of them arresting (dying).

 

Because we were only able to fertilize 6 embryos, we decided to play it safer with what we had and grow the embryos to 3 days. We were lucky and all 6 survived.  5 of the 6 were great quality, and the other was still above average.  Even though we have every problem in the book trying to create them, our embryos were great quality.

 

I was pretty good for about 2 days after the embryo transfer.  I took the day after the transfer off of work and rested as prescribed.  My goal for the next 14 days was to try to relax, keep my stress levels down, and focus on being well.

 

I had to take progesterone suppositories 3x daily to continue to support my uterine lining.   Suppositories… such an innocent name for such a crappy thing!  Basically shoving giant white chalky circles into my vagina… three times a day.  Not fun.

 

The issue with the progesterone was how evil it really is.  Taking progesterone mimics pregnancy symptoms.  My boobs hurt, I was bloated, I had nausea, and my stomach was a mess.  Plus, my body still wasn’t over the fertility medications so insert massive headaches, cramping, and muscle aches.

 

I hung the ultrasound picture on the fridge at our house and had it as a pic on my phone to look at.  I was absolutely amazed by it.  The whole science and craziness that is fertility was finally hitting me.  This was actually crazy!…

 

By about day 6, I was back to being best friends with Google.  I was now Googling everything from the best pregnancy tests, accuracy results of pregnancy tests on what day post transfer, early pregnancy symptoms, success stories from IVF, IVF odds for young couples…  you get the point.

 

This is about when I started getting creative with math.  Well if my babies were already 3 days old, plus I waited a whole 6 days… doesn’t that make them 9 days post ovulation?

 

I was once again pretty sure I was pregnant.  Perhaps this seems silly, and Dan tried his best to keep me realistic, but this time, the odds were in our favour!  We had such a great chance… plus our embryos were fantastic.

 

Day 7: … ok now I’m Googling and planning for twins.  How can you breastfeed with twins?  Do you keep them in the same room?  What if they are different sexes?  How would we tell our friends about two babies, not just one?  Although it was exciting, I was looking at the health risks for twin births and risks to the mother.  Knowledge was power… the more I knew, the more I could prepare.

 

Another major question- what colour would I paint the nursery?  Do we find out what we are having (yes!).  What hospital would we deliver in? 

 

Day 8: The scariest part of waiting for these 14 days is going pee.  It sounds stupid, but every time you go to the washroom, you say a slight prayer before you wipe.  Please God, don’t let there be any blood!  My worst nightmare came true… it was just a spot, but a spot of blood was not good news.  I immediately started crying.  This couldn’t be good news.  Back to Google I went and started reading all the posts by women who started to bleed and turned out to be pregnant.  Ok… this might not be the bad news I originally thought.  After all, it was simply one spot.

 

Day 9:  I’ve never been so scared to use the washroom.  I continued praying and tried not to read into my symptoms too much.  They were the exact same… no, wait, maybe they were getting stronger!  Probably just the progesterone, but what if it wasn’t.

 

We had invested so much into this cycle.  Not just a whole lot of money, but we were now going on over 2 months of straight treatment.  Two months of monitoring appointments, needles, poking, prodding, tears, and pain.  This was all worth it.  We were going to be pregnant.

 

We went to Costco after work that night to pick up a bunch of stuff.  I was getting cramps and getting really worried.  I went to the washroom and found that I was now bleeding.  Not just a spot anymore. 

 

I walked out of the washroom like a zombie and walked straight to Dan.  I was in tears and whispered the news in his ear.  We left before buying anything and went to the car.  I made it to the car before breaking down which was a feat in itself.  I was just exhausted and knew this wasn’t great news. 

 

I couldn’t wait any longer.  I could not wait another 4 days to find out if this worked, especially now that a period had started.  We were going to the clinic tomorrow morning to find out.  I couldn’t wait any longer.  I went straight to bed and tried to calm down.  Dan continued to Google and found some hopeful posts, but I wasn’t feeling hopeful.

 

Day 10: June 15th. Beta Day.  I went into the clinic at 8am with Dan and got my blood drawn.  I walked out quickly and we drove home.  It was Father’s Day and I was really hoping for great news to give to our family.  Realistically, I was already talking myself into what might be the reality.

 

Around noon, they called.  It only had to ring once as I was holding the phone waiting.  The IVF nurse answered and said she had bad news.  After that, I have no idea what she said.  I just mumbled uh-huh, uh-huh and needed to get off the phone ASAP.  I hung up and broke down.  Even though this was the news that I was trying to tell myself might come, it didn’t help.

 

My body had failed us again.  Another 2.5 months had gone by… plus thousands of dollars and we had nothing to show for it.  Again.

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Why OHIP Hates Me… What does fertility REALLY cost??

So my uterus and ovaries suck.  I’m a young women (26!), Dan’s a young guy (29!) and we cant’ conceive naturally.  It’s not like we waited until we were 40 to try and start having kids…  We understand the theory of the ‘maternal clock’ and thought we were doing everything right.

Until everything fell apart.

Throughout my story this far, I have detailed some of the emotional and physical pain we have been going through.  The endless questions and decisions with no perfect answers, the endless waiting for consistently bad news, and being sick in bed for the better part of the year.  Just to add a cherry on top, there is the financial side of things.  People always ask me about what’s covered by OHIP and what’s not.  Let me lay this out for you…

Different clinics have different pricing, so here is an idea of fertility costs in Ontario, Canada.

OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Program), our Provincial publicly funded health care insurance covers Ontarians each time we are required to go to the doctors, go to the hospital, or have surgery etc.  There are limitations to this insurance when OHIP deems something to not be necessary.  For example, if I wanted my boobs to be 3 sizes bigger to look ‘pretty’, I’d had to fund that out of my pocket.  However, if I wanted my boobs 3 sizes smaller (and I’m having back and neck issues due to their large size) OHIP would fund that.

Well fertility is something that would be in the first category.  Apparently, being infertile is not something the government cares about, nor is willing to pay for.

So when you walk into the clinic for the initial consult with the docs, OHIP covers it.  The blood tests and diagnostic testing in order to diagnose the condition, OHIP pays for.  However, even this has a limit.  My ultrasounds were paid for, however Dan’s sperm analysis was not.  I think that test ran about $100.  Ok, that we can handle.

Now, once the doctor diagnose me with PCOS and decide that due to my medical conditions, we would need assistance in conceiving, OHIP says- well that sucks, but sorry, can’t help you… Not our problem.

So onwards we go.  We then have to pay an annual admin fee of $220 plus tax to the clinic.  Next is a $300 monitoring fee.  This covers the clinic for the blood work and ultrasounds needed for monitoring your cycle.  An IUI runs you around $600 per shot (this includes the ‘sperm washing’ and insemination).

So at this point, for the cheapest assisted version of IUI we have a minimum of around $1220.00.  So, twelve hundred bucks… Well, if you’re anything like me, you are now thinking of all the things you would much rather buy with $1220 dollars.

But wait, we are forgetting the best part- the medications that you have to buy.  I know I’m not the norm… as it appears my body is revolting against the idea of having a baby, but the medications were the most expensive part.  In addition to the $1220 dollars for the clinic fees etc, add an additional $7500 just for the medications for our one IUI round.

Yep- that ‘cheap’ procedure just jumped from $1200 to $8700.  Now think of what you could buy with that… hell, that would get you a decent car!  But alas, it got me emotional and physical hell.  And an empty uterus. 

Now Daniel would pop in here with is positivity and start explaining that it isn’t wasted money.  We had a chance for it to work, we tried and gave it our best, and it didn’t work.  While that is disappointing, think of that the doctors learned about my body in this round! *Rolling my eyes…

In case you haven’t quite picked this up yet, this is a tad of a sore spot for me.  Throwing thousands and thousands of dollars into fertility with nothing to show for it but bills.

Next, moving into the big leagues of IVF, check out the pricing below:

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We’ve now already paid the monitoring fees and the admin fees for this year… but the IVF fee: $5800, ISCI fee: $1500, Embryo cryopreservation fee (embryo freezing): $850, and the and the Annual embryo storage fee: $240 are all needed to do a round of IVF. 

Dan and I lucked out (I guess you could call it that?) as we were in this very small percentage of the population that our round of IVF was at the subsidized rate of $3000 instead of $5800.  The rationale was that because I had too many embryos for IUI, it was actually cheaper for OHIP to pitch in $1800 bucks for a one time ‘donation’ to switch to IVF, than to pay for a high risk pregnancy and multiple births if I went ahead with the IUI.  Indeed OHIP, thank you oh so much.

So if you happened to total up the above, you’d see we’d be sitting at around $5500.  Enough for another small car, giant mortgage payment, or a super nice trip… Nope.  IVF. 

But don’t forget! The medications!  This cycle, due to it’s length and high dosages ran just over $12,000.  Yes, you read that right.  So we’re talking about $17,500 for a one decent shot to get pregnant.

I guess this is one of the hardest things for me… Paying for the procedures is one thing, but trust me, it sucks have to have to keep raising your credit card limits to buy the very medications that are making you so sick in the first place.

Dan and I spent our first 2.5 years of marriage saving every penny so we could buy a nice home and have a head start on our lives.  We knew kids cost money, so we tried to stay a step ahead.  We watched our friends and family go on extravagant trips, buy whatever they wanted and go out all the time.  We were very cautious about our spending.  We went out and spent money, but every penny was spent with a concerted effort to maintain our savings.  Why don’t we live in Quebec, or The Netherlands, or Australia… or any of the a zillion places that assist in fertility costs??

To be honest, it sucks.  It sucks that we are infertile… when everyone around you is having babies.  That’s hard enough.  However, it sucks even more that we have now spent our savings on trying to get the one thing we want more than anything else in the world- a baby!

In the infamous words of my Grandfather, “It’s only money”.  And, it is.  We still have our health, each other, plus amazing friends and family.  And HOPE… hope this will work. 

 

So I try my best to focus on our blessing instead of our complaints.  However, sometimes I just need to vent.  Venting complete.

We continue to press forward…

Drafted to the Big Leagues… IVF

* Foreward…

 

I’ve been procrastinating and delaying writing this part of the year.  This is the part of our journey where things got tough.  Real tough.   Hormones, emotional hell, physical agony and an empty wallet would be the short version… Here is the longer one.

 

 

 

We have just been switched to IVF and our heads are spinning.  We have been talking about IVF as our next route, but had no clue we would be making these decisions now.

 

We signed the consents and had another brief overview with the nurse about other changes.  I was now given another medication call orgalutron- another needle to give myself in the evening.  This is used to prevent immature ovulation in women being stimulated in fertility treatments.  There is no use growing these amazing follicles if we can’t do an egg retrieval to catch them all!

 

Now our goals had shifted- we now wanted as many follicles as possible while maintaining a safe level of estrogen.  The clinic gave me a couple days off from monitoring and I was to come back on CD 36.

 

My body felts like I was falling apart.  I had been trying to go to work and keep up, but at this point, I could barely walk due to the pain in my abdomen.  Additionally, I now had the shakes and was sweating like you’ve never seen.  Between my hot flashes, track marks on my arms from blood work, and trembling hands, it was getting harder and harder to convince people I’m not an addict coming off a high.  My boobs and abdomen were so swollen that one would actually think I’d be pregnant and in my third trimester.  Anything that touched me below my neck and above the knees felt like a knife stabbing me.  I tried to tolerate the physical symptoms as best as possible, but at this point, I was breaking down.  I eventually gave up and called work to let them know that I was going to need some time off.

 

CD 36: The most painful transvaginal ultrasound and blood work.  Ever.

 

I step into the clinical room to receive my results and now understand why I am so ill.  I now have 29 follicles growing in my ovaries.  Twenty-nine.  Now keep in mind, a normal person grows one, maximum two follicles, once a month. 

 

To perhaps put this in better perspective, a normal and healthy ovary is about the size of a Greek olive.  Both of my ovaries now are approximately the size of large grapefruits.  They also don’t really have any room to move so one has migrated up and under my ribcage, and the other is squishing everything else in there.

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Right Ovarian Follicles- Black circles are follicles

 

 

After seeing the ultrasounds, we decided to wait for my blood work before making any decisions.  The reports came back around noon and they gave me a call.  My estrogen had sky rocketed, and was so high that the clinic was worried about Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS).  More about this later, but what this meant was that we couldn’t wait any longer, we had to move ahead with the egg retrieval. 

 

This wasn’t an optimal time as even though I now had 29 follicles, many of them were under 18 mm so were not big enough to have a mature egg.  This didn’t matter, waiting and continuing treatment was not an option.  Plus, we have about 15-16 follicles within the size range that we want- still a great result!

 

By this time, Dan had officially given notice to his old employer and was full speed ahead doing the last minute preparations for opening our Pita Pit.  Construction was underway and he was able to be home and help me as needed.  The better news was that I had now (finally!) convinced Dan to list our home on the real estate market and shop for a new one.  We decided to move closer to friends and family, so we had picked a smaller rural town close by.  I had found my dream house, and even though it was a tad over our budget, my negotiation skills prevailed and we had a 30 day closing!  (As if we weren’t busy enough….)

 

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Our Soon-to-be Pita Pit

 

 

After we received our results from the blood work that afternoon, Dan drove back to the clinic to purchase a trigger shot for me to take.  The goal this time was not to trigger ovulation, but instead, to trigger the eggs to mature.  When he came home, I gave myself the trigger needle.  Tomorrow was the big day- egg retrieval!

 

Egg Retrieval

 

I woke up the next morning and we got ready to go into the clinic for our egg retrieval.  The clinic had given me a prescription for an anti-anxiety medication to take the morning of.  I took the pill and tried to concentrate on the bigger picture and end result- a baby!

 

We got to the clinic and Dan handed the clinic a fresh sperm sample.  As soon as the eggs were out, the lab would be fertilizing the eggs to make embryos.

 

They had me get dressed into a hospital gown and took us to the back where the procedures happen.  The RN started an IV and gave me special medication that I required to assist me due to my bleeding disorder.  This made me start to get very nauseous… trying my best not to puke, the nurse came over and added in some gravol to the IV.  These meds, plus the anti-anxiety meds, had me pretty darn calm.  I waited until it was our turn to go in- no big deal.  I can do this.

 

Another nurse arrived who was scrubbed in and ready to go.  They lead us to the room and I got onto the table and put my feet in the leg holders.  I was now lying down with my legs spread and in the air.  Dan was sitting beside me holding my hand. 

 

As the RE arrived ready to begin the procedure, the RN started to add medication to my IV.  Different clinics do this different ways, however instead of knocking you out, our clinic chooses to do something called conscious sedation.  The purpose of this is to give you a combination of medication to help you relax (a sedative) and to help block pain (an anesthetic).  The goal is to be semi-awake but not to be able to feel the majority of the procedure.

 

The RN started to give me the medications.  They continued to ask me questions and then said they were ready to start.  This isn’t a pretty procedure- basically they are shoving a transvaginal ultrasound in with a suction needle on it.  They push the needle through and into your ovaries.  The needle then sucks out the contents of each of your follicles (eggs).

 

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Egg Retrieval Diagram

 

 

As the RE started to insert the ultrasound probe I was in incredible pain- they hadn’t even started yet, however due my physical symptoms, everything hurt.  I asked them to stop and to give me more medication.  They did.

 

They went to start again… and again I’m in excruciating pain.  Dan is squeezing my hand as I try to calm myself down and stop from crying.  I request more medication.  The RE nods and the RN gives me more.  We start again…

 

This time I try to grin and bear it.  It hurts… no, it is terrible.  I’m not able to stand it and am now extremely upset and sobbing loudly.  The RN then informs the RE that they have given me the maximum amount of the medications allowed in a non-hospital setting.  They cannot give me any more medication.

 

The RE says that we can stop due to the pain.  I ask what that really means- does that mean we aren’t going to go through with it?  She says we don’t have another choice.  Due to the timing of the trigger injection, the eggs are ready now.  If we wait, they will ovulate and be over mature.  It was now or never.

 

I looked at Dan… he looked more scared than I did.  He was handling this amazingly considering the state I was in.  I looked at him and said, let’s just do it.  The RE explained that it would be very painful, and she understood if I wanted to stop.  They could not explain why the medications were not taking any effect on me.

 

Here we go again…  Dan was now standing and holding my arm, half supporting me, half trying to keep me still as I sobbed and moaned through the procedure.  They called another lab tech into the room to assist to hold my other side.  The RN was trying to encourage me through it as the RE sucked everything that was viable from my right ovary.  I have never experienced pain like that before.

 

They then went for my left ovary.  The RE stopped and explained that she was unable to reach it as it was shoved way up under my ribs due to its excessive size.  She tried a couple more times, however she couldn’t get it.  They checked to see if they were able to access it from my abdomen with a bigger needle, however the pathway was blocked by bowel and intestine.  They could not safely access my left ovary to get the eggs out.  She just shook her head and apologized.

 

After the most painful 30 minutes of my life, they could only do half of the job.  My body had yet again failed me.

 

I don’t really remember most of the rest of the day.  I believe Dan took me home and got me into bed.

 

Fertilization

 

We received the report.  They were able to extract 8 eggs from my right ovary.  Out of the 8 extracted, 6 were mature.  The clinic went ahead and fertilized those eggs.  Due to the small number, we decided to go with a method called ICSI.  I don’t even know what that stands for (and I’m too lazy to google it!), but basically instead of just putting Dan’s sperm with the eggs and crossing our fingers, we fertilize the eggs with a bit more science.  The lab picked out good healthy sperm from the sample and held the egg still.  They then injected one sperm into each egg in hopes that they all would take.

 

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ICSI

 

 

We got the call the day after the retrieval that all 6 of our eggs had fertilized and were now growing in the incubator!  The disappointment of the retrieval day was behind us, and we were now focusing on our 6 growing embryos.  We continued to get an updated report each day to find out how the embryos were growing.  Just because your eggs fertilized does not mean they will grow.  Ours were good quality so we had high hopes, however nothing is guaranteed.  We finally had a spot of luck on our side and all six embryos made it through three days of growing. 

 

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Embryo Development Diagram

 

 

In the meantime, I was now done with injections, but was giving myself progesterone suppositories three time daily.  The purpose of the progesterone was to keep my uterine lining in good shape and prepare my body to accept an embryo- and hopefully attach!

 

I was under the impression that once they took these eggs out of my body, I would be feeling much better.  However, the opposite was true.  I was now full fledge into ovarian hyper stimulation.  My stomach had distended (I literally looked 9 months pregnant), I was throwing up and having classic OHSS symptoms.  I actually got so sick that Dan had to get me into the car and get me back to the clinic to be seen.  They reviewed everything and said that I had moderate to severe OHSS.  My estrogen was over 25x higher than an average woman.  The good news was that I did not have any free fluid in my abdomen.  This symptom of OHSS is life threatening, not to mention, they would have to cancel my transfer.  Part of the problem was that my left ovary never released the substantial amount of follicles. 

 

I continued being very ill for three days.  Dan took good care of me and was feeling like a human again by day three post egg retrieval.  The clinic reviewed my symptoms and approved me to continue with the embryo transfer.

 

As a side note, we had received possession of our new home.  However, because the first one had not sold yet, we didn’t have to rush and move.  I spent the 3 days between the retrieval and transfer lying on a sunbathing chair in my kitchen wrapped in bedding.  My family assisted us each day in moving some items over.  My Mom actually unpacked my whole kitchen as I laid in the chair pointing.

 

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Our new house on moving day- still no sod or paved driveway! But couldn’t be happier.

 

 

Transfer Day- June 4, 2013

 

After all the hi-tech science that has happened to get us here, the actual transfer was fairly uneventful. They guide a catheter into my uterus using an abdominal ultrasound.  Once the ultrasound is in the exact position, the RE injects the embryos in the top 1/3 of my uterus.

 

The crazy part is that she is actually injecting two small babies into my belly!  Depending on your philosophical thinking of course, but for me, life begins at conception… so here is a picture of the ultrasound they gave us when leaving.  The bright white spot near the top centre (inside the darker circle which is my uterus) is the two embryos that were transferred.  This was the first ultrasound of our pregnancy!  I took a pic and sent it to my family and close friends!

 

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Our embryos after transfer!!

 

 

I went home, relaxed in bed for another day, then went back to work.  Technically I was now pregnant.  However, the bigger question was would it last?  All that these little guys had to do was snuggle their way into my uterine lining.  Two embryos meant a very good chance of two babies…

 

Let the wait begin.

 

Praying for Good News

CD 29: Transvaginal Ultrasound and blood work.  Nothing growing. 

We literally had one more day until our cancel date and I was praying like never before.  The amount of time and emotional (agony!) we have invested in this cycle by this point is time is incredible.  And perhaps weighing even heavier was the amount of money we had now put out in medications.  By this point in time, I was on literally hundreds of dollars of medications each day.  I can’t recall exactly, however it was definitely over the $300 range.  Every. Single. Day. 

To cancel now felt like we literally just threw money out the window.  One day left.  Please work!

CD 30: Transvaginal Ultrasound and blood work. 

I walked into the clinical room and waited for the RE to come in.  We looked at the results of my ultrasound. There was no growth at all.  I broke down and started to cry… it was over.  We had put everything we had into this cycle and it was over.  The RE basically said that same thing our doc had said a couple days earlier regarding cancelling now.  My body was exhausted from the medications and stress.  This was going to be the best course of action.

The only glimmer of hope was that Dan and I had talked about IVF and everything that entailed.  We weren’t sure of our answers to the many ethical questions surrounding IVF, but we were sure that we felt comfortable going ahead and starting the next round going that direction.  We wanted to talk a little bit more with our RE to better understand everything, but IVF was a great option for us.  Not to mention, the success rates were much higher.

I left the clinic feeling extremely defeated.  I knew we had given it everything, and there was nothing left to do.  I think that is the absolute hardest thing… not having any control.  I’m a type-A personality that likes to be control of everything.  This was something, that no matter how much I tried… there was nothing I could do. 

I started to head to work that day, but by half way, I was crying too hard to go in.  I just couldn’t pull myself together.  I ended up pulling off the highway and sitting by the side of the road crying.  After some time, and talking to Dan, I was able to pull myself together and focus on what was next.  The clinic said that my body needed a good break from the medications, so Dan and I would need to make the most out of the next couple weeks- I was hormone free!

I pulled into work and went to my office.  By now, most of my colleagues knew the basics of what was going on.  The good thing is that most of them have medical backgrounds so had an understanding of the process.  I think it was general knowledge not to ask me how things were… if was face was red and blotchy, it would probably be a safe bet to just say hi and steer clear.  That day I was obviously more upset.  I had several people come give me a hug with some words of encouragement.  I put on a big of a smile as I could fake and closed my office door and tried to surround myself with enough work to keep busy.  I had accepted that it was over, and was looking forward to relaxing for a couple of weeks.  Trust me.  We needed it.

Just after 1pm my cell phone started to ring.  It was our clinic.  I took a deep breath and answered.  It was the nurse that I was with this morning.

“Adele, you actually aren’t going to believe this… we just got your blood work back and your estrogen has climbed significantly.  We think that it’s finally working.” 

I felt like yelling into the phone ,“Are you F*ing kidding me???”.  Instead I just asked a bunch of questions.  When your estrogen increases into certain levels, it normally means that a follicle is developing.  Did this mean my cycle was back on?

She basically said for me to take my meds tonight and come back into the clinic tomorrow.  In 2 days, we should be able to see some growth in a follicle.  If it had grown, then we’re back on.  If it hadn’t, then we’d cancel.  Greaaaat…. I think.

I hopped back in the car and made the 30 minute drive back to the clinic.  I had no more medicine so needed to buy enough for another 2 days (there’s a pharmacy in the clinic- most stores don’t carry fertility medication). 

I honestly didn’t know how to feel.  I felt like I had just calmed down and had begun to move on from this cycle, but now was pulled back in.  In some ways, I wanted it just not to work so we could have a break.  But, if it worked, then I could be pregnant.  And that was the overall goal, correct?  I decided to stop over thinking and just get through another day.

CD 31:  Transvaginal ultrasound and blood work.

I walk into the clinical room and the RE greets me with a smile.  It wasn’t the ‘I pity you’ type of smile, it was the good news type of smile.  She showed me the results… I had 8 follicles that had grown over 10mm since yesterday.  EIGHT?  She was concerned about the number as the most the clinic will allow for an IUI round is 2, but none of them had grown over 14, so we were hoping that most of them would calm down and one (maybe two) would surge and grow extra big.  She sent me home and said she’d call depending on my blood work.

I was all smiles again- could this actually be happening?  The cycle was back on and it looked like it was going to be a go.  All the money, time, and tears were worth it!  We were getting pregnant!

CD 32: Transvaginal Ultrasound and blood work

I brought Dan along for this appointment.  He has able to get the time off of work and knew this appointment would be a big one.  We had to pray that one or two follicles surged in growth, but left the others in the dust.  If we had too many, the clinic would simply cancel me for the opposite reason- too many follicles.

The ultrasound was incredible painful and I could barely walk due to the pain in my abdomen.  My head was killing and my belly was one giant bruise from the meds.  I was an emotional nightmare.  I was feeling nauseas and was doing all I could to keep it together.  Focus- the end goal!

We got the news from our doc who was on that day.  I now had 19 follicles.  And they had grown… a lot.  I had 19 follicles between the sizes of 13-17 mm.  Crap.  I think this means it’s bad news. 

The doc then threw us for a loop, he suggested that we immediately switch to IVF… as in, now.  That was really the only option- either switch to IVF or cancel immediately.  The clinic could not proceed with this many large follicles, however, there was a chance of moving forward and having a successful egg retrieval with the follicles we have.

Thank God Daniel was there.  We asked for a couple minutes to chat.  We hadn’t really figured all of the answers, but if this was the only way to keep going, maybe this was good news?  Maybe this was meant to be?  My body apparently hated IUI, but perhaps IVF was our solution?

We called the doctor in and went over the consent forms.  We agreed to IVF however we also had to agree on what to do with left over embryos.  The doc explained that he would put two embryos back in my uterus if the egg retrieval and fertilization were successful.  So what did we want to do with the rest (if there were more)?

We decided to freeze the remaining embryos.  We agreed that if something happened to us, that we would donate the embryos to medical research.  The idea of someone walking around with our biological child wasn’t something we were ready for.  We also decided that if one of us died, we gave the other the ability to make the decisions with what was left- including using them after death if that is what we wanted.

I’m sure that a zillion people have a zillion reasons why the decisions we made were wrong.  But for us, this is what we decided we were comfortable with.  The idea of life and the question of when did it start was still something I was internally struggling with, however, I knew in my heart that we were ready to start IVF.

Onwards and upwards.