The Test(s)

frozen

Day 6 of 14

Six days post 4 days transfer (in fertility lingo that would be 6pt4dt)… This means that the egg was fertilized and then grown, outside of my body in an incubator type thingy, for four days.  After four days, they transferred the embryos.  They’d been in there for six days.  In this case, there was the cryogenically freezing part, the thawing part, but in the end, it all sort of equals the same.

Why does this matter at all?  Because 6 days post transfer plus 4 days incubation meant the embryo should have implanted in my uterus by now and started emitting some HCG… the hormone that pregnancy tests test for.

Ten days was the magic number.  When the above numbers add to ten is generally the earliest time that you will get a BFP (Big fat positive!) on a home pregnancy test.  Infertiles know the dumbest factiods of information.  But this one… this day 10 mark was big.

The pineapple cores had been eaten, I was still going to acupuncture ($87.00 bucks a pop), but ultimately, I just wanted to get to day 10.

Dan tried and tried to convince me to wait.  Wait until the blood work he’d said because you can get false negatives on the HPT (home pregnancy tests).  Why put yourself though this every morning?  Just wait.

Easy to say, not easy to do.  Do I? Or don’t I?  Frankly, if he really wanted me to wait, he would have confiscated the neat row of HPTs, organized by expiry date, in our master bathroom.  He didn’t.  That meant he secretly wanted to me to do it, right?

Day ten.  I woke up an hour before I needed to because I just couldn’t wait a second longer.  I sat there awkwardly trying to rip the packaging open so not to wake Dan… didn’t want to be busted.  I peed on the stick.  I caved.  Then I waited…

One line appeared… Please God, please.  Just let me see a second line.  Hadn’t we been through enough?  …and waited.

And waited.  No line appeared.  It was most absolutely negative.

I actually chucked the recently peed on stick across my bathroom and burst out crying. Out of protest for the test that had just ruined my day, I wanted to leave it laying the on the ground, but my dogs were fairly interested in it thinking we were playing fetch, so I had to go back and retrieve it.

Dan had told me not to do it.

I crawled back in bed and cried as silently as I thought possible.  However the crying breathing, the one where your chest pumps up and down, was shaking the bed.  Busted.  Dan tried to comfort me and made me realize that most pregnancy’s wouldn’t show up this early anyways on a HPT.  In fact, we were still 4 days before I would even get my period.  So let’s be optimistic, focus on the good, and say a little prayer that it was just too early.

I composed myself… and did what every infertile does when they get a negative on a HPT.  Go onto every forum and read about how this person had a negative test but was really pregnant with twins!  And that one didn’t test positive at all but the beta test showed it was positive.  Ok, good thing I woke up an hour early, I needed the hour just to convince myself to make it another day.

I kept a smile on face for the rest of the day.  Yes, it was too early to test and being negative wouldn’t help my little embryos grow any faster.  When I got home that evening, I read the next page in my book about the embryo development for today.

hope

I kept up the positive mantra for approximately another 24 hours.  It was the morning again and the first pee was the best one to test with as it would have the highest concentration of HCG for the test.  To test?  Or not to test?

Day 7 of 14

This was honestly torture.  I decided that I wasn’t going to test again until I went for my beta testing.  The HPT tests was enough to make you miserable and frankly, they still could be wrong as it was so early.  Dan was right, I was going to wait.

Day 8 of 14

Eight days post four day transfer…. I can’t wait another second.  I NEED to pee on that stick to see the second line.  Every penny in our savings account was gone form fertility.  We had put everything, and I mean everything into this cycle.  This was our last shot.  We were not going to try again.  It had to work this time.  It was going to work this time.

I peed on the stick.  Dan had already left for work so I didn’t even have to sneak around. So I waited…. I sat on the bench at the end of my bed with the test perfectly level waiting for the second line to appear.  Now according to  the “Countdown to Pregnancy” website (http://www.countdowntopregnancy.com/pregnancy-test/brand-chart.php?hptbrandid=41), 87% of people that are pregnant show a positive 12 days after ovulation.  Well using my scientific dates, I decided that the day the egg was fertilized would be day one.  87%!!!  I was one of them, right?

Wrong.  One f’ing line.  The test, again was negative.

My breathing started to get heavier, and before I realized it I was having a full blown panic attack.  This could not be happening.  I did everything.  I even ate the stupid pineapple cores.  Dan and I would make amazing parents- it’s all we want in the entire world!  This just cannot be happening.

An anti-anxiety pill and an hour later I was calm again.  There was still 13% of persons who were actually pregnant that at day 12 still got a negative reading. PLUS, these were dollar store tests… who knew if they even worked anyways.  Right.  I’m pregnant.  I know it.

My boobs were aching, I was emotional, no period yet, and my lower back was throbbing… I AM pregnant.  With that, off to work I went.  I called Dan and admitted the test and the meltdown.  He listened and tried to encourage me that it wasn’t over until it was over- the blood test.  Think positive.

And I did.  Fake smile and all.

On my drive home I had to pick up some groceries and found myself in the pharmacy aisle looking at the First Response 6 Days Sooner tests.  Study after study had shown that these were the most responsive tests and detected pregnancy the earliest… so maybe that’s all I needed.  I ignored the price tag and figured our entire lives was dependent on this one test so we could afford it.

Day 9 of 14

9 days post transfer… and another 5 days until I am able to go and get my beta test.  Armed with a new, better (!!), test and ignoring Dan’s protests I walked proudly into the washroom and peed on the stick.  Dan came to observe as we stared at the test.  We decided that watching it just made the time go painfully slow so we tried to make casual conversations about our scheduled days ahead…. the time was up and I raced to see.

One fucking line.  One line. This just cannot be happening.  This was supposed to work!  How, after them literally putting live babies in my damn uterus, was this even possible?

Dan, the calm and ever optimist, reminded me that only the beta blood test would tell us the truth.  We had to wait for the beta test.  It was that exact second that I called the IVF nurse at my clinic and explained that there was no way I could wait another second.  I was going crazy.

She knew what we had been through and knew all of the struggles (and the price tag!) of the rounds we had gone through.  She also knew that this was our last shot and gave me some hope.  She said that even though the clinic liked to wait until 14 days post transfer, if the test was positive, it would be positive tomorrow.  She warned however, that the levels of HCG might not be enough to detect if it was a viable pregnancy yet, but it would for sure tell us if it was negative.

Done.  I was now going for my beta test four days early.  Tomorrow morning I was going to waiting at the clinic when it opened for my test.  The sooner I got in, the sooner the results.

Trying not to think about if I was pregnant or not was impossible.  I tried to work, but luckily had no meetings booked.  I was being cautiously optimistic and trying to think positively, but I was going to be no use at work today.  I called in and took a comp day and spent the rest of the day researching beta tests, HPTs results, effectiveness of each test, what a good HCG level was for 10 days post transfer… you get the point.

Day 10 of 10

Ten days post four day transfer.  This was it.  By noon, I was going to know.  I drove to the clinic and got the blood test.  I was a wreck. I was so nervous that I could barely speak (and those that know me know that that doesn’t come easily).  The lab tech gave me a hug and wished me the best.  She let me know that she had been praying for us and had a good feeling.

As I walked through the hall back towards the waiting room, the women who dispenses the drugs came out of the ‘pharmacy’ room and gave me a big hug.  With tears in her eyes, she told me that Dan and I deserved to be parents, and she knew that everything would work out.  This woman was also the one who apologized to me daily as she continued to charge my credit card for the latest conglomerate of medications I needed.  She gave me one last hug and said she’d say a prayer for us.

The two receptionists stopped what they were doing with other patients and both said good luck with an encouraging smile.  Everyone knew today was D-day.  Today was the day that would change my life.

I’d gotten to know so many of the employees at the clinic now after spending more time then any other patient they had ever had with them.  When my cycles went on and on for months, I needed to be there every day.  I felt like I had developed this amazing secondary support group- and they were rooting for me.

I just couldn’t go to work.  So instead, I drove to Pita Pit and laid on the couch in Dan’s office.  I needed to be close to him.  Dan continued with busy work and continued to come in and check on me.  We knew that the call would take a couple hours to come.  And so we waited… and waited.

At exactly 11:37am, I got the call.  Dan was out front serving customers at the time and I was in the office alone.  It only had to ring once before I picked it up.

I could tell the second the IVF nurse said hello what my fate had in store for me.

“Adele, I’m so so sorry.  The test came back negative.  You’re not pregnant.”

My first thought through my mind was that I actually felt bad for her.  This poor nurse had to call me to tell me the most devastating news I’d ever get.

It then sunk in.  I will never, ever, ever get pregnant.  Ever.  We were done.  It was over.

its-over

It. is. over.

Our Last Shot

This is it.

This is the last one.

The more I rationalize it, the more I realize that this is for sure going to work.  Isn’t that how life works?  Right when you finally give up, everything falls into place?

I’ve been going to fertility acupuncture three times a week and after waiting what seems like forever… my uterine lining is finally thick enough to get going with this frozen transfer.  We have two popsicles left (aka frozen babies).  The transfer is going to be on my Dad’s birthday, September 3rd so that has to be good luck right?

September 2nd, I get the call from the clinic to update me on the status of the thawing of our children.  Bad news.  Again.  Why this continues to surprise me, I’m not sure.  But sometimes it makes me laugh that I think something is going to happen how it is supposed to.  One of the two embryos has all but died in the thaw.  The other, however, is doing great.  Well… we’re down to 1 embryo.  But that’s all it takes, right?  Dan spent the next several hours trying to calm me down.  We only need one embryo to make this work.  This IS the one.

September 3, 2013- I head in for for the first of the two acupuncture appointments.  These are ‘special’ so of course they cost extra- 2 treatments in one day for only $325.00.  Well, considering we’re paying $1500 for the transfer, another couple grand for the fertility meds, we’re paying storage for the embryps, plus $250 a week for acupuncture this far… what another $325?  It’s only money… right? :s

The traditional Chinese doc says to stay warm and to drink warm fluids. Ok, off we go to Tim’s to wait until it’s time to head to clinic.  I have a French Vanilla Cappuccino and try to relax.  Dan hops back in the car and we cruise on over to the clinic.  Holding hands the whole way, we do the hand squeeze- you know, the holding hands hand squeeze that is means we have each others back.  And we do.

The transfer was fairly uneventful.  I changed into the hospital gown, Dan helped me onto the table and into the leg straps.  In proper FET fashion, I was about to pee my pants due to the required full bladder.  They confirmed the embryos were ours and the ultrasound tech started to manoeuvre the wand around my abdomen.  My favourite RE (other than our doc) was on, and my favourite ultrasound tech was in the room with us.  This had to mean something positive right?  With Dan holding my hand, the doc inserted the catheter into my uterus and with the tech’s guidance, measured the perfect distance from the top of my uterus to place the embryos.

They told us where to look and counted to three.  1, 2, 3…. out came a burst of white just a couple millimeters from the top of uterus.  They transferred both embryos.  The one hadn’t officially ‘arrested’ yet so there was no harm in placing that one in too. It was over faster than it started.

There.  Done.  I was now officially pregnant. 😀

After waiting a minute of so for everything to settle, I hopped off the table and ran to the washroom to empty my bladder.  I felt so cheery and excited.  I went to the tech to get our ultrasound of the babies, and she said she hadn’t realized that we wanted one.  Looking disappointed I looked at Dan- with an encouraging smile he said we had pictures for the other rounds, so maybe this round was going to be different for us.  Yes, we’d done this several times now. .. I just knew that this was the one.  The transfer went so smoothly and the 1 embryo was top quality.  Dan drove me back to the acupuncturist and he completed the second treatment for the day.

As I lay there on the bed listening to calming music my mind drifted to all of the excitement to come.  The announcements, the nursery, would it be a boy or a girl?  After an hour in the dark room with needles sticking out of me every which way, he came in and instructed me to stay warm.  Whatever that meant.  I went home and rested for the rest of the day.  I had minimal cramping and stayed all snuggled up in cozy pj’s and in my bed.  Keeping warm as instructed.

Since this was the last shot, I was pulling out all the stops- women on fertility forums always were talking about eating a pineapple core after the transfer.  Apparently some nutrient in the core is supposed to aid in the implantation of the embryo.  Yep, you know you’re officially desperate when you are crunching down pineapple cores swearing it’s going to help you get pregnant.  If there was a chance it was going to help, then sign me up.  We bought two pineapples and cut the cores into 5 segments for the 1st five days after the transfer.

I spent the next day taking it easy and working from home.  I wasn’t going to risk any extra stress or activity for this one.  It was so hard to keep focused on work.  Suddenly, everything baby was so much more interesting than grievances and LTD appeals.  Gender reveal parties (yes- I secretly want one- I’m a loser!), baby shower themes, and what to pack when you’re heading to the hospital were suddenly priorities.  One day down… thirteen more to go until my beta test.

I went back to work the next day. Trying to keep myself busy enough to forget about the miniscule baby who was either digging its way into my uterine lining… or not.  Impossible.  Still eating my pineapple core, I was also continuing to go to acupuncture on the schedule the traditional Chinese doc had recommended.

By 3 days post transfer I found myself wandering through the pregnancy section of Indigo.  There were so many books to choose from.  To be honest, I already owned several of them.  But I was sucked into the aisle and couldn’t leave.  I picked out the most detailed book I could find (which my friend later referred to as ‘the encyclopedia of all things pregnancy’).  It was pricey, and knowing we were seriously short on cash I had a sudden pang of guilt.  I called Dan and asked if I could spend $60 on this amazing pregnancy book that I absolutely needed(!). My rationale was that it started from the last day of your last cycle- so I would get an entire chapter of my ‘pregnancy’ day by day.  Even though a lot of the things described were forced through science (egg retrieval, fertilization, transfer) I could read all about the development and what was happening inside me.  I walked to the cashier and she smiled and asked if the book was a gift- I said no not really getting where her question was leading… She suddenly had this megawatt smile and said, “Congratulations! It must be SO exciting! I love seeing newly pregnant women when they are buying their first book!”.  Unsure what to say next, I smiled and muttered a thank you and avoided eye contact at all costs.  Was I a fake?… there was a baby inside of me, I just wasn’t sure whether it wanted to stay yet.

book

I got home and instead of making dinner I became fully engrossed in the science and miracles behind pregnancy.  The neat part was that this book actually talked about IVF and what stages lined up with the natural cycles etc.  I was legit allowed to read the whole first chapter in ‘preparing’ yourself for pregnancy etc and caught up to seven days after fertilization.  Crunching on a pineapple core I was fascinated by the corresponding pictures and details.  It just seems so crazy that a person can actually just have sex and make a baby- all the moving parts that have to align so perfectly, it baffles me.  Here I am with science doing every single little thing for us, all my body had to do was accept the little guy and let it burrow into my uterine lining.  The more I thought about it, the more I was certain this round was going to work.  My new nightly routine was set- I was going to read where our embryo was in it’s growth each night before bed.

Days four and five post transfer were fairly unexciting.  I continued eating the pineapple core and reading about the development of our embryo.  On day six, everything changed.

You know you’re infertile when…

While most (…ok all) of my posts can be slightly depressing, I figured it’s important to mention that sometimes, you need to look at the lighter side of things!

Here’s my top 10 list of…

“You Know You’re Infertile When…”

10. When someone asks you what day it is, you respond by answering with your cycle day.

9. You buy home pregnancy tests in bulk from the dollar store… (because your husband threatens to leave you if you continue to buy the $20 ones!)

8. Every time you see fraternal twins your first thought is “I wonder if they were fresh or frosties?”

7. You take a home pregnancy test after taking an HCG trigger shot just so you can see the elusive 2 positive lines.

6. You learn how to read transvaginal ultrasounds while lying on your back.

5. You have a dedicated shelf in your fridge for injectable medications, needles, and vials.

4. You ever wondered if it’d be considered a threesome if the RE plus your husband were in the room when they finally got your pregnant.

3. You have shot up in bathroom stalls at work, restaurants, movies, theatres… and it was perfectly legal.

2. You actually know exactly how thick your uterus is, how many sperm your husband has, or how many follicles are currently growing in each of your ovaries at any given time.

1. You cringe at a phone bill if you have $1.25 in overages but smile and hand over your credit card at fertility bills in the thousands without a second thought.

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Impossible Decisions- What next?

You can call me a lot of things… but unorganized isn’t one of them.  Knowing that Dan and I had to make some serious decisions about what to do if this next Frozen Embryo Transfer doesn’t work, I started to do some serious research.

I’m the obsessive researcher, and Dan normally just nods his head in agreement.  However, these were kinda big decisions so, in the next two days, we both had to become as educated as possible about all of our options to try and make the best decision possible for us.  So off I went.

I actually created little binders of information that I was able to pull together about private adoption, public adoption, international adoption, and surrogacy.  I searched adoption council’s, public forums, medical research, information sessions, and peer reviewed data and just kept hitting print.  I collated all of the information and gave Dan his deadline.  By Sunday afternoon, we had to both read all of the information I found by ourselves and put together a list of questions, concerns, and what if’s.  Sunday afternoon we would sit down and figure out how to move forward.

Much to my delight, Dan delved eagerly into the information with a highlighter and was making notes about questions and concerns.  Sometimes I feel like I’m so invested into this process and he seems less so… he proved me wrong, again.  We both studied up to prepare ourselves for the big meeting on Sunday afternoon.

Sunday afternoon hit and my teacher’s college training was making me twitch as I didn’t have a flip chart to start taking notes in my living room.  I made due and Dan and I thought the easiest way to approach this was to make a Pro and Con list for each of our options.

Our options included to keep trying with fertility treatments, private adoption, public adoption, international adoption, and surrogacy. 

Option 1: Keep trying with fertility treatments was our first stop.  The Pro list was just as obvious as you would think… being pregnant, having our biological child.  However the CON‘s list was a lot fuller…

CONs- $+++++;  When do we stop?  When is enough enough; I’m dying emotionally and physically; it may NEVER work; we cannot plan anything, cannot go anywhere; always extremely sore

Looking at our list, I was suddenly overcome with emotion.  I knew, right at that moment, we were done.  The list wasn’t even close to done, but I could continue with the CON side of the list for ages.  I broke down completely sobbing on the couch.  We were done.  If this frozen transfer didn’t work, we were done.   I literally wrote on the piece of paper “This is the last time”.  It was devastating and relieving all at once.  I had so many mixed emotions.  I was devastated that this could mean that I would never get to know pregnancy, never get to have my own child, never get to fulfill the dreams that previously seemed so normal… to have a baby.  But on the other hand, I felt like making this decision was like taking a massive weight off my shoulders.  Getting pregnant was becoming my life mission, and finally admitting that I might just not be able to do it, by no fault of my own, was suddenly like a wave of relief.  The pressure was off, the guilt about my body failing was gone, and the fear about new treatments dissipated.  I could breathe again.Dan smiled at me and hugged me until I could settle down.  He fully felt this was the right decision for us right now too.

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Ok, on we went with our pro and con list.  Next up was Option 2: International Adoption.  This was also a fairly easy one for us, in fact, we didn’t even have to make the list.  Because I have mental health concerns and a history of depression, 90% of countries with an adoption agreement with Canada would automatically exclude us from their list.  We didn’t meet the criteria.  It felt almost ridiculous that we could be discriminated against so blatantly based on medical concerns, however, it technically wasn’t Canada that was discriminating… it was other countries.  So what were we to do?  Cue another breakdown.

As if it wasn’t bad enough that we were going through the hell of fertility treatments due to MY medical issues, now, because of other health issues, we wouldn’t even be looked at for international adoption.  Dan really picked a winner… :S

Okay, so we’re down to three other options… Surrogacy, Public Adoption, or Private Adoption.

Option 3: Public Adoption… After looking into the general timelines and the ages of children that were available (infants were often not available), we decided that Private Adoption would be the route that we would take if we chose adoption. 

Option 4: Private Adoption

PROs- Cost-medium; not based on science/miracles; move past ivf/infertility; socially acceptable; help a child who needs a home/altruism; lots of education and assistance available to get started; child presented to you is as a choice; ability to research into the health of the baby and familial history to some extent; can start the process asap; adoption practitioner/agency to assist with process

CONs- If come into agreement while birth mother is pregnant, she can revoke it at any time; only able to work with one Mother at one time so all eggs in one basket; based on luck; no guarantee of lifestyle during pregnancy; not biological child; are we just giving up (fertility); 21 days (+8) that the mother, after the baby is placed in our home, that the mother can revoke the placement; based on luck; no guarantee of medical disclosure of birth parents; timing- average timeline for ‘adopt ready’ status is about 1 year; many adoptions are open adoption- a sliding scale agreement to allow birth parent(s) involvement in the child’s life

While there was heavy pros and cons on each side, this was a real viable option.

Option 5: Surrogacy

Even though this was not the route we expected to even think about, it was an option that we potentially had.  I felt it was important to look into each and every option so we made our PRO and CONs for this also.

PROs- it would be our own biological child; having the option like treating it as if it was our own baby while in utero (baby showers! ultrasounds! getting called when in labour!); legally our own child from the start with no chance of revocation; timing is shorter than other options; high success rate; feeling like part of the pregnancy; we trust Jen 100%; Jen has two other healthy children with uncomplicated pregnancies; Jen’s in a good place in her life and would psychologically be able to do this; there would be no complications during the pregnancy/birth due to me being on anti-depressants or having a bleeding disorder

CONs- $+++++ (actual estimates in Canada range from $70,000 to $90,000); stress on our friendship; definitely not socially acceptable- how do we explain this one to our friends, never mind our own child later on in life; would need to do another IVF cycle as we have no embryos left; not guaranteed to work; how would this be for Jen’s kids- this confusing enough for adults, never mind her own kids; confusing for her daycare kids (she runs a daycare)… plus try explaining this to her clients; 

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… We decided to take a break.  We made the lists, now we had to figure out where we were going next.  It was down to private adoption, or to have my best friend carry our baby…  Time to get a snack.  Food cures all.

We sat back down with two viable options.  We talked about the pros and cons of each and talked about the ones that weighed heavier than others.  Both potential options were potentially emotionally fueled.  We made the decision that money was not going to play a factor- we couldn’t force ourselves into an option simply looking at dollars and cents.  The heaviest issue for us with adoption was the idea that we could work with a birth mother for months for her to simply change her mind and either not give us the baby, or worse, take the baby back after s/he had been placed with us.  How could this be something we could get through?  Dan had always been a big proponent for adoption and we loved the idea of helping a child who needed a loving home. 

Having Jen act as a gestational carrier (surrogate) was, let’s face it, frickin’ weird!  But once we got over that ‘minor’ point, the option was actually interesting.  Dan, who previously laughed off the idea, was now coming around to having some real discussions on how it would work and what it would mean.  What would people say?  … wait, why do we care what people would say?

We spent an hour discussing the pros and cons… and finally came to a decision.  If this round of frozen embryo transfer was not successful, we wanted to seriously look into surrogacy.

Holy crap… (seriously, sometimes words don’t do justice to what you’re actually feeling).

Okay, to do:  1) Call Jen and let her know we are actually seriously thinking about her offer to carry our child if this round doesn’t work and pray she doesn’t run at the thought that this might actually happen. 2) Say a prayer that this crazy emotional day was all for naught and hope that the transfer on Tuesday is successful. 

All we want is a family… who knew it would be this hard.

 

Here we go again… FET #2

September 3, 2013.  My Dad’s birthday.  Also the first day of our next frozen embryo transfer cycle.

Although we continue to bounce the ‘what’s next?’ conversation around, I have decided to try and focus on growing my uterine lining! Yes, that’s what I want to focus on.

Today is the ‘random’ start date for my next cycle as I don’t have any natural cycles.  Mentally, I’m in a pretty good place.  I’m excited to start again, hopeful the drugs are going to work this time in a (sort of?!!) timely way, and that this is going to end with a positive beta test.  I am literally dreaming at night of how we will find out that it is positive- peeing on a stick, the phone call from the clinic, how to tell my family, who are we going to tell, and if I’ll just burst out crying because of the great news!  But I also find myself struggling… How much optimistism is good?  If I focus on the great news, the baby bump, the baby shower, the newborn pictures… will it just hurt even more if it doesn’t work?  On the flip side, moping around assuming it won’t work isn’t going to be doing myself any good either.  Is there such thing as a happy medium? (Literally.)  Dan says to focus on small steps, so step one is to start the estrogen pills again and pray that my lining starts to thicken up.

The goal is over 18mm.  I’m sitting at about 10mm when I start.  The good news is that the docs have learned that nothing is easy with me, so they start me, right off the bat, with a good dosage of estrogen.  They start me off on 6 pills daily (12mg), 3 in the morning and 3 at night, all vaginally.  Wonderful.  I’m back to being a smurf with blue pills.

The other thing we are giving a shot this round is acupuncture.  I have done a lot of reading and several fertility and medical studies have proven that fertility acupuncture has been shown to have positive effects during IVF and FET cycles.  At this point, I’m willing to try anything.

There is a clinic that specializes in infertility not far from the fertility clinic so I called and made an appointment.  The practitioner is an MD from China and was the deputy Dean of the Chinese School of Traditional Medicine in Beijing.   He came very highly recommended so I walked into the clinic on the first day of my new cycle.  Not really knowing what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised that he was very well versed in fertility.  He asked all the right questions about my cycles, the meds, the dosages, and checked me out from head to toe.  He instructed me to lie down on the bed and turned on ‘relaxing’ Oriental music in the background.  Honestly, I was half laughing in my head as this really isn’t my thing, but if there is even a chance it would work, then I’m at least giving it a chance.

The guy took my pulse and said I was too agitated to start so he would come back once I had calmed down.  Uhhh… ok Adele, calm down.  Ten minutes later, he walks back in and re-takes my pulse.  Apparently, I had settled enough for him and he asked me to close my eyes and focus on the music.  He proceeded to put little needles in the tops of my ears, my ankles, my feet, and all around my abdomen.  In all, there were more than 25 needles now sticking out from various parts of my body.  He put a basket covering my needle ridden belly and then covered me in a heavy blanket and told me he’d be back.  He gave me a mini doorbell to ring if I needed anything and then he left the room.

Generally, each time you had to lie there for about 30 minutes.  It was weird.  I was lying in this dark room with random ‘calming’ music in the background and supposed to be relaxing.  All I could think about was if this was all BS or if it actually worked… Cause if this was BS, he was sure putting on a really good show.

After 30 minutes, a small bell would ding outside my room and he would come in and pull all the little needles out.  I have a bleeding disorder so then I would have little pinprick fountains of blood trickling from various points in my body that I would try to stop with random pieces of kleenex.  I looked like a 14 year old guy learning to shave.  You honestly have to chuckle at the stuff I’m now willing to do if there is even a slight chance of success.  At $87.00 a pop, acupuncture was my new way to get another 30 minutes of sleep after fertility.  For the rest of my cycle, I proceeded to go about three times a week. Another $261.00 a week was peanuts compared to the amount I was paying for the meds and the actual procedure.  To be clear, none of which we really had at this point, but if I was in for an inch, I’d be in for a mile.  Oh, poverty induced by my fertility…

As my cycle progressed, the Chinese Doctor would calculate whatever special formula he had and moved the the little needles around my stomach like little soldiers preparing for battle.  It was a relaxing time for me to decompress and try not to think of strategy for my next meeting I’d be prepping for.

In typical fashion, my f*ing lining didn’t thicken up as quickly as it was supposed to.  You’d think by now, I’d expect that.  But each cycle I’d have a renewed sense of hope that the doc would have figured out my random medically puzzling body.  Alas, not yet.  After CD 5, I started daily monitoring appointments again.  I was driving 40 minutes for blood work and transvaginal ultrasounds each morning as a mini wake-up call.  Trust me.  This gets old.  Very fast.

CD 18 I was finally at 18mm.  My lining had never got thicker than this, but the clinic assured me that there was no benefit to being any thicker than this.  Once you hit 18mm, the chances of success were equal to that if I was at 19mm or 23mm.  Okay, it’s almost time.

We added in Progesterone suppositories again on CD 18.  The clinic decided to do things a tad different this time and they gave me the rectal ones.  Wonderful I thought, but the benefit was that I didn’t have time out all the various pills to shove up there at different times.  These ones I could put in the same time as the estrogen.  These turned out to be a life saver.  These didn’t make any mess at all and once they were in, you didn’t have to worry about anything until it was time to do it again.  If you told me I’d be bragging about how awesome the rectal suppositories were compared to the vaginal ones just a short year ago, I would have been asking what institution I was committed to.  Oh, how things change.

I am now on 4 estrogen pills vaginally in the morning and 4 at night, plus the progesterone suppositories morning, noon, and night.  Oh yes, this is the ‘easy’ cycle compared to IVF, but they sure keep you busy.  My hormones are raging and I’m hvaing every early pregnancy symptom out these plus menopausal ones to boot.  I spent my days dressing in layers so I could strip down at any time when I was hit by a hot flash.

September 26th was to be the big transfer day.  I booked special acupuncture appointments for before and after my transfer as the Chinese doc told me to, and I was getting ready.

The closer I got to the transfer date, the more worried I became about our back-up plan.  I needed to have some sense of control over this, and the back-up plan was my control.  I made Dan promise that before the transfer, we would sit down and hash out all the pro’s and con’s of all our options if this round didn’t work- then pick an option.  We shook on it and planned a date.  The Sunday for the transfer he promised me would be dedicated solely to fertility/life planning.

I was happy.  Two more days until our planning date and four until the transfer.  I started saying extra prayers that the back-up plan was going to be nothing but wasted time when we got our positive beta, but felt good knowing that we would have it ‘all figured out’… whatever that meant.

Breathe in.  Breathe out.  My new motto.

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Difficult Decisions… What Next?

We had our quick WTF (‘follow-up’) appointment with our RE.  He, again, gave us no answers.  He said they didn’t have answers.  My body was just not accepting the embryos.  It could just be bad luck, but could also be something wrong with me.  We knew the PCOS was what was screwing up the egg production, but my body seemed to not want to get pregnant either.  Great.  Onwards we go.
In my rollercoaster phase leading up to Sept 3rd, our new start date for another FET round, Dan and I were struggling with the biggest questions of all… when was enough, enough?  How many more rounds do we do?  How much money do we spend?  When is the emotional and physical turmoil too much to continue with.
At this point, we had spent 1.5 years dedicated to fertility.  To be fair, the first several months were simply appointments.  However, my life had consistent of nothing but fertility hell since January 2013.  It was like putting our lives on hold.  We were unable to do most things due to my daily appointments requiring us to be in proximity to the clinic, the shortage of money (which was all spent on fertility) or me being too sick or too sore to do anything.  Our quality of life had been decimated.  Yes, having a family was important to us, but at what cost?
Perhaps it was time to start looking at other options.  Other options… wait, did this mean I wasn’t going to be able to get pregnant?  I will never be able to feel a baby grow inside me?  I will never be able to feel the those first flutters that all pregnant woman talk about?  Did this mean that we would never be able to have our own children?  Would we ever get to have a newborn baby at home?  What were these ‘other options’ anyways?
And so I started to research to see what was out there.  To be fair, we still had two frozen embryos, and they were obviously going to work… but a back up plan was my way of staying in control.  At least we had a Plan B.  Or one could say that we’ve probably already used up the Plan B, C, D, E, F, and G.  So perhaps I was drafting a Plan H.  Nonetheless, a worst case scenario back up plan.  It was so incredibly important to me to have a plan because if our next round failed, we were back to square one.  No more embryos.  No next steps.
My best friend Jen* and I were talking through this all one day while I was driving to a meeting (on speaker phone!!).  She was great at the balancing act between staying optimistic, being realistic, and listening to my concerns.  She was honest and told me exactly how it was.  She was also amazing because, somehow, after all this, she was still willing to listen to be go on and on about fertility.  There was a reason she has been my best friend since High School (welll… except for a minor bump in the road where I hated who she was dating and refused to talk to her… Forgive me?) After analyzing every piece of our crappy fertility puzzle, she suddenly became serious.  “Adele, I know we’ve talked about this before and you keep blowing me off like I’m joking… but you and Dan can make great quality embryos.  It seems as if the only part not working now is that your body won’t carry them for you.  I know there is a lot to think about and understand, but Adele, I will carry your baby”.
Ummm… Cue me laughing nervously.  I start to stammer and say how Dan would probably faint before that happened plus that it is actually kind of crazy…. And she stopped me.  “Don’t answer me now.  You need to do another round, and we would need to seriously look into it and understand everything before making a decision, but just know that I’m serious”.
We then continued talking about life, our jobs just normal stuff but I couldn’t quite get this out of my head.  Jen, carry our baby?  WTF!!?… Would it actually work?  And is she on crack- this was actually crazy!
We hung up the phone and I immediately called Dan and told him we had to talk and rehashed the entire conversation that was just had.  Dan listened quietly then said how amazing it was for her to offer, but then asked if I was seriously considering the offer.  I told him I didn’t know, but I had never actually really thought about surrogacy as an option.  Dan said to focus on our next round.  Then said he didn’t think that was something he’d ever consider… it was too, well… weird.  This incredible offer that came out of left field that I didn’t know if we’d even need, just got shut down so fast I didn’t really have any more time to think about it.  Yah, I guess it is weird.  Fine.
If surrogacy was out, then what else did we have left?
1. To keep trying.  Do another round of IVF… but when do we stop?
2. International Adoption
3. Private Adoption
4. Public Adoption
5. Accept that we couldn’t have kids and enjoy our child-less lives together.
Dan and I had a long talk that night.  Tomorrow was September 3rd and I was starting another round of FET.  I made him promise me that we would set aside an evening with no distractions- just us- and work through the different options and figure out where we would go next if this round didn’t work out.  These were not going to be easy choices… but they needed to be made.  The deadline I gave him was that we needed to have our Plan B (or H or whatever we were at now) decided before they transferred our two last embryos.  He agreed.
Holy crap this sucked.  FET you better work!
*Names changed for the potentially not so innocent 😉

The Dreaded Psych Appointment…

After 9 months of fertility and medical testing, then 8 months of active fertility treatments, and an empty wallet & uterus, I was at my breaking point.  It was clearly demonstrated by my constant sobbing for over a week without even knowing if the latest transfer worked.  Our RE essentially told us that we (me!) had to go see the in-house psych doc before starting us on another cycle.

After finding out the bad news yesterday that our FET didn’t work, I was actually feeling a lot better.  Not knowing if it was going to be bad news yet again was the worst part.  Dan and I got ready to head into see the doc.  I really just wanted to wear pjs and not shower… but assuming he would be reading into every aspect of the visit, I dragged by butt up and into the shower.  Trust me… this was an accomplishment.

At the age of 19, I was diagnosed with depression, which was later diagnosed as chronic depression.  This meant that I stay on anti-depressants all the time, forever.  Up until now, I had never had any issues- my mood was great, my appetite better than good, I loved taking part in activities and keeping up with friends.

In the last couple months, I had slowly been transformed back into the me that I didn’t want to remember.  The me where I would much rather curl up in bed and never leave.  The me where some small miniscule thing not going perfect was enough to derail me completely.  Let me paint a picture of how my thought process worked.  I use the simplest of simple of examples: Stubbing my toe.  Now stubbing my toe on a normal, non-fertility time in my life would simply hurt.  Now, there might be a chance of a foot hop with a not so proper swear word, but that would be it.

Stubbing my toe while depressed: Stubbing my toe would turn into me being pissed because I ruined my pedicure… which would make me so upset because the money we were spending on fertility meant that I couldn’t actually get a pedicure… which would make me devastated because I would start counting the money we have spent and focus on the absolutely nothing we had to show for it but bad memories and wasted time… which would devastate me because I would think about all of the physical and mental pain going through fertility cycles… which would push me over the edge because I’m not pregnant and would need to do another cycle to try again…. which was hopeless because with these cycles even the simplest things didn’t go as planned…. oh not going to plan, that pretty much sums up everything that is going on with my life.  Cue me sobbing uncontrollably and staying in bed inconsolable for hours on end…. especially when Dan wasn’t as upset as me.  Doesn’t he get that our lives are ruined and never going to get any better?

You get the point… not pretty.

Well off we go to the psych appointment at the fertility clinic.  I had heard good things about the doctor, however, I wasn’t exactly sure how this was going to work.  I had been to my share of doctors re: depression, however, what did it mean to go to a doctor re: depression when I was already on anti-depressants?

We got called into the back room with this little old man.  He introduced himself and said he’d had an opportunity to talk to our RE regarding our unusually difficult cycles.  He sat us down and started to ask questions.  Me, being me, basically got right down to it.  I told him I know exactly what was wrong.  He stopped and asked me to explain.

I told him I’m a Type-A personality.  I love plans.  In fact, I take extreme pleasure in making to-do lists and short and long term plans.  Oh, and I generally get what I want.  I work my ass off and make sure that my plan works out.  I’m dedicated, passionate, hard working, and love having control.  That would be the issue.  I have zero control of fertility.  Nothing is working how it is supposed to.  The nice little 28-day cycle diagrams on the walls in the clinic didn’t mean anything to me as by day 28, I’d just be getting into the swing of things- not finding out if the cycle was successful or not.  Worse yet, the doctors didn’t even have control!  They had no ideas about what was going on and why I didn’t react to the drugs.

So take a control freak and put them in an incredibly stressful situation where they have no control, at all.  That equaled me.  An emotionally devastated 26 year old woman who could think of nothing else but the feel of an empty uterus.

The doc smiled and we chatted about life- how and where I grew up, school, work, our marriage.  You name it, it was on the list.  At the end of the session he basically said what we already knew- we had a great and supportive marriage, great relationships with family and friends plus lots of support.  However, I wasn’t dealing well with not having control.  He suggested that I already seemed to have recovered well from what our RE had described my emotional state yesterday, and he gave us the go-ahead to move on with a new cycle when we felt we were ready.  This time, however, we’d have to go back and continue to chat with him.

Sounded easy enough to me.  We walked out of the room and through the fertility halls.  I turned to Dan and said, let’s do this.  He wasn’t sure what I meant… I walked up to the IVF nurse and asked her what day I could start another FET cycle.  We had two embryos left.  My plan consisted of us getting pregnant ASAP and get this part of our lives over with.  I wasn’t going to wait.  I didn’t have control about much in this process, however I could have control over my start times.

The good news here was that because my body is so messed, I don’t have cycles.  Because I don’t have cycles, I do random starts.  So against Dan questioning me if I was ready, I booked my first monitoring appointment to get this show on the road.

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Failed cycles behind me, and a new Frozen Embryo Transfer to come.  I’m getting pregnant damn it. :S

Another 2WW (From Hell)

It has officially taken me a month to get around to writing this part of our journey… Not that I haven’t thought about it each one of those days.  I just didn’t feel I had the energy to do it.

The next few months were the lowest of the low for us, and I wasn’t doing very well.  Surrounded by friends and family that loved and supported us, I was stuck in my own head filled with negative thoughts.  The constant disappointments were compounding on top of one another and, regardless of the anti-depressants I was taking, I slipped into another depression.  So… here it goes.

…. 2WW (#3)

Today was the day.  While this Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) had gone relatively well compared to the other rounds we have done, it still wasn’t ‘easy’ as I had hoped.  I was excited to get into the clinic and have the transfer.  Patience is definitely not one of my strong suits.

On August 15th, Dan and I went in for our transfer.  The transfer itself was actually quite simple and easy.  We arrived at the clinic and they took us back to the procedure area.  I changed into the hospital gown and with an extremely full bladder I lied on the bed.  The ultrasound tech came in to see if my bladder was full enough… I felt like I was about to pee all over the table and she said I was good. (Thank God! Because there was no way I could wait much longer).  I lied in the chair with my legs in the brackets and prayed not to pee on anyone.

The RE popped in and went over the rig-a-ma-roll re: names and the embryo labels etc.  Yes, thank you for putting our own babies back inside of me.  Now that would be bad.  :S

Once ready, the ultrasound tech puts the ultrasound on my belly to guide the catheter that they use to insert the embryos.  With my bladder full, my uterus is pushed down and elongated so they can see exactly what they are doing.  After several measurements, they tell us to watch the monitor and they insert the two embryos.  We can see two white spots ejected from the catheter!  I’m officially pregnant!  If pregnancy is having a living baby inside of you, then I’m pregnant!!

They take a couple of shots on the ultrasound and print them out for us.

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The white solid dot in the pic are our two embryos 🙂

After relaxing on the bed for a minute, I jump up to go to the washroom because by now I can barely even think I have to go so bad!  We take a couple minutes to look at the pictures they gave us and talking about the ‘buddy’ effect they described to us.  One of our embryos wasn’t doing well and most of the cells had arrested, but we hoped that it would assist the other embryo which was very strong implant and attach!

Off I went home to rest in bed for the rest of the day.  We were officially in our new house so I cuddled with our dogs in the bed and Dan went back to work.

After two days of resting, I was back on vacation again.  The one thing that looking back I would have changed from the IVF round was that I was quite active and stressed with work and fertility during the 2WW.  I wanted to try and rid myself of stress so I decided to head back up to the cottage.  I drove back up north and my Mom was up there with two of her long-time friends.

I continued the crazy schedule of 3 vaginal suppositories and 8 estrogen tablets vaginally each day of the 14 days wait.  My body hated the estrogen and I was having every pregnancy symptom there was- my boobs hurt, I was nauseous, etc etc.  Honestly, it’s the evilest thing ever.

I would spend hours laying on the dock in the summer re-reading the same page of my book 30 times as I tried to decipher what each twitch, gas pain, and symptom meant.  I was in a pretty good mood until about 6 days post transfer.

I couldn’t wait any longer- I had to pee on a stick!  In the forums for IVF people talk about what day post transfer they got a BFP (big fat positive) on an at home test.  The earliest that people said they saw it was when the age of the embryo plus days post transfer equaled 10.  The embryos were 4 days old and I waited 6 days… the rationale seemed solid in my mind. Dan tried to convince me not to do it, he said to just be hopeful and wait.  I couldn’t do it.

As soon as I saw the negative result of the test, my life seemed to crash before my eyes.  I knew it then, I wasn’t pregnant.  It was really early to even be testing….  if I was normal, it would still be 4 days before my expected period, but in my head, I knew the magic second line would not appear on my tests.

I essentially cried for the next 4 days at the cottage.  If I wasn’t crying, I was curled up in a ball in bed sleeping.  My Mom tried to continue to encourage me to think positively and talked about the reliability of the tests and the timing.  Dan tried to calm me down over the phone for more hours than I want to imagine… but it didn’t matter.  I wasn’t pregnant and I knew it.

What was wrong with me?  They are literally putting little babies in my f*ing uterus and my body still wouldn’t work.  My entire world was so focused around getting pregnant.  We had spent basically all of our savings at this point, and months of pure emotional and physical hell, and we had absolutely nothing to show for it.

What makes someone a woman?  Because the whole reproductive system that was so eloquently explained to me in grade 5 wasn’t working the way it was supposed to.  I started to look back at our decisions leading up to this… Having a family was just as important to Dan as it was to me, and now he was stuck with me.  Me, the one with the useless body.  Letting me down was one thing, but letting Dan down was a whole different level of misery.

It was now 10 days post transfer and I couldn’t wait a minute later.  10 days plus the 4 day embryos equaled 14 days. This 2ww just got shortened by my creative math.  I drove home in the evening from the cottage and tried to prepare myself for the blood testing the next morning.  The night before going in, I felt this slight sense of hope.  Maybe I was being ‘Nancy Negative’ as my Dad would say… maybe I was all worked up over nothing.  The docs said we had great chances, so why didn’t I believe that?  I was so optimistic going into this round, so what had happened in these last few days?  It was official- I was going to be pregnant tomorrow and we are going to look back on my last couple (not-so-pretty) days and laugh in the future.

August 26:

The next morning we drove in for an early appointment.  I was sitting waiting for my blood work to be done in the glass room and my primary RE happened to walk by and ask how I was.  I hadn’t even had the test yet and I just burst out crying in the waiting room.  I’m not talking a little tear here and there… I mean a full out sob fest and I couldn’t catch my breath to even answer what was wrong.  Dan spoke up and said I was convinced I wasn’t pregnant and hadn’t been doing very well.

We stood me up, walked me to the room to get my blood drawn and then asked to see us in his office.  We wanted me to let him know what was going on.  I really had nothing to tell him that was new.  My body hated me.  This whole process of IUI/IVF had gone nothing but bad, nothing was working, we had virtually no money left, and the thought of having nothing at the end of this was so devastating I couldn’t even put it into words.  He chatted with us for a minute then said that we didn’t have the results yet, so try and stay calm.  However, he felt like it the result was negative, we definitely needed a fertility break to try and regain my sanity.  He also said before starting anything again, he wanted us (read: me) to see the psychiatrist at the clinic.

I, still sobbing, agreed and Dan walked me to the car.  Dan asked when the next appointment was for the psych doc and he had a cancellation the next day.  We took it.

We drove home.  Dan rubbing my leg as he drove, and me sobbing in the passenger seat.

Later on that day, around noon time, we got the call from the clinic.  I answered the phone before one ring even finished.  It was our IVF RN that we had developed a relationship with.  Her last words to me as I walked out of the clinic that morning was that the last woman who came into beta day upset like me turned out to be pregnant.  So try to stay optimistic.

With her first words, I knew.  All she said to me was that I was right… it was negative.  She was sorry.  After that… I’m sure we exchanged a few words, but I don’t remember any.  I just hung up and curled myself into a ball in bed and cried… and cried.  I asked Dan to text our families and a couple close friends who knew we would find out today.  Having to talk to anyone and say out loud that we weren’t pregnant meant it was real.  I wasn’t there yet.

After a couple of hours of Dan holding me while I sobbed, I was suddenly feeling quite calm.  It was like the not knowing part of the last 2 weeks was worse than just knowing that it hadn’t worked.  I felt like I had some closure now and we could start figuring out the next steps.  I couldn’t explain it- I was devastated it hadn’t worked, but I felt like there was a renewed sense of hope that we still had 2 frozen embryos left and there was still a chance!

I spent the rest of day watching movies with Dan on the couch and relaxing… and not knowing what the psych appointment that was booked for the next day would bring.

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!

ivf13

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