I didn’t document cycle #2 because I didn’t have the strength. But we have 2 beautiful babies as a result and I write all about our lives at http://www.greyandfynn.wordpress.com.
On 5/17, I received my progesterone test results and when the nurse told me my levels were “very low”, I knew that wasn’t good. I was instructed to up my dosage from 50 to 100 mg and come in on 5/23 for my pregnancy test.
While I consider myself a pretty positive person, I am first and foremost, a realist. I knew the results meant that we probably failed this cycle so I had a good old-fashioned meltdown. Jerry tried to keep things in perspective by saying if they thought it was a lost cause, they wouldn’t have made any changes to the progesterone dosage. While this was a good point, it was also wishful thinking. So I continued to have fits of sadness and screaming and crying over the next week.
Jerry and I decided that we were going to let the office leave the pregnancy test results on his cell phone and then we’d listen to them together when I got home from work. I still had a sliver of hope that they would say “Congratulation, you’re pregnant!” on the phone…but when she said “I’m sorry but your pregnancy test was negative”, I was certainly not surprised. I suppose I had myself pretty mentally prepared for the outcome. I got a little teary while I let it sink in and then just jumped into “Well now what?”.
I am a girl (woman) that needs a plan. I function much better when I have a course of action and I can plant my focus on what is ahead. So now that Cycle 1 failed, here’s our plan of attack:
1. Stop thinking about this for a while. I need a break. I. NEED. A. BREAK! We’ve been hyper-focused on babies for almost 2 years. I’m ready to just enjoy my summer, enjoy my husband, and enjoy my life for a few months.
That being said, #1 does not mean we’re going to stop trying. So…
2. Schedule a follow-up meeting with Dr. S. I don’t need the answers to why this didn’t work. I’m 40 years old. I have a limited ovarian reserve. My egg quality is less than stellar. Jerry has a low sperm count…I get it. We were/are a long shot. But I would like to know if there is anything we can do to increase our odds without IVF (i.e. should I go on Clomid?) during the next 6 months. And prep ourselves for the next round. We meet with him on June 27th.
3. Plan Cycle 2 for January 2014. It will not increase our chances of conceiving by doing IVF 2.0 right away. Realistically, the earliest we could do it again would be @ October. I have to be retested for everything, my cycle has to even out, they close their lab from 6/23 – 7/15, etc…so why not wait another 2 months until I can get on Jerry’s insurance and the bulk of it will be covered. It’s a no brainer to me.
4. Kick our healthy living into high gear. I haven’t done a lick of exercise in almost 6 weeks. I guess walking counts but it doesn’t do as much for my mental health as getting my butt into a class and really working it out. And I have given new meaning to the word “comfort food”…good grief. Get it together, Jenny! I got on the scale and surprisingly weigh less than I did when I started this whole thing. But the numbers are never a real indication of what’s going on for me. I can still button my pants but man, I can’t wait to feel comfortable again.
As for the state of our mental health…I think we’re doing surprisingly well. This is not the end of our world. Life will go on. I have many, MANY wonderful things to be thankful for and I’m trying to reflect on those. My mantra has always been “Every thing happens for a reason”. This was not our time. Hopefully, our time will come but if not, we gave this our best shot. I will honestly walk away and have no regrets. That doesn’t mean I’m not sad. I would still love to be a Mom one day. And if it’s meant to happen, it will.
Thank you for all of the calls, texts and emails over the last few days. Yinz guys sure know how to make a girl feel loved!
My Mom & Jerry took excellent care of me on Friday and Saturday. I’m proud to say I was a stellar patient! I watched almost the whole first season of Game of Thrones and basically just laid around. I must say…it’s hard to be lazy when you don’t feel sick! Quite the opposite…I feel great! The bloating is slowly going away and would probably be non-existent if I haven’t been eating everything in sight! I read something online (yes, I did…let it go) that said you’re supposed to make sure you’re getting enough to eat so your body doesn’t think it’s starving. Something about being well fed will create an environment where your body thinks it’s able to carry a pregnancy…blah, blah, blah. Basically, I eat when I’m bored…and laying around is boring. But not to worry, I’m whipping us (yes, us…I make Jerry eat with me) back into shape with some healthy meals this week. I’m going to do myself any favors gaining 10 lbs during this process.
So I realize I didn’t get into too much detail about the actual Embryo Transfer. If you have to go through this at some point, know that besides the full bladder thing, it’s the easiest part. At least it was for me. Jerry was allowed to be in the room with me, they play soothing spa music and it’s actually quite peaceful. It’s not painful, just some pressure. And we got to see our little guys all tucked away in my uterus via ultrasound after it was complete.
I also forgot to mention that, because of my age, Dr. S recommended we use Assisted Hatching as part of our process.
So, what is Assisted Hatching? Let me explain.
After an egg is fertilized in the laboratory, the cells begin to divide. During these initial stages of development, the embryo is contained in a layer of proteins known as the zona pellicuda. In order to successfully implant into the uterine lining, an embryo has to hatch out of the zona pellucida and attach to the walls of the uterus.
Assisted hatching is a newer lab technique that was developed when fertility experts observed that embryos with a thin zona pellucida had a higher rate of implantation during IVF. With assisted hatching, an embryologist uses micromanipulation under a microscope to create a small hole in the zona pellucida. This happens on the fourth day of embryo development when the embryos contain an average of six to eight cells.
The embryos are stabilized by a holding pipette, and on the opposite side a small pipette containing an acidified solution creates a small defect in the zona pellucida. The embryos are then rinsed to remove any excess acid solution and returned to the incubator for a few hours before transfer into the uterus.
So, with that, I think we’re up to date!
In case you would like to follow along at home, here’s what is happening with our little embryos
|Day Past Transfer (DPT)|
|Sat 5/11||One||The embryo continues to grow and develop, turning from a 6-8 cell embryo into a morula|
|Sun 5/12||Two||The cells of the morula continue to divide, developing into a blastocyst|
|Mon 5/13||Three||The blastocyst begins to hatch out of its shell|
|Tues 5/14||Four||The blastocyst continues to hatch out of its shell and begins to attach itself to the uterus|
|Wed 5/15||Five||The blastocyst attaches deeper into the uterine lining, beginning implantation|
|Thurs 5/16||Six||Implantation continues|
|Friday 5/17||Seven||Implantation is complete, cells that will eventually become the placenta and fetus have begun to develop|
|Sat 5/18||Eight||Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) starts to enter the blood stream|
|Sun 5/19||Nine||Fetal development continues and hCG continues to be secreted|
|Mon 5/20||Ten||Fetal development continues and hCG continues to be secreted|
|Tues 5/21||Eleven||Levels of hCG are now high enough to detect a pregnancy|
|Thurs 5/23||Thirteen||Blood test to detect pregnancy|
I’ve been asked whether or not I’ll be taking a home pregnancy test (HPT) prior to the blood test. The answer is…I’m going to try not to. There are a lot of false results that you can get from a HPT and I won’t be doing myself any favors getting worked up one way or the other. So I”m going to try and wait until Thursday. But to know me is to know that I am THE most impatient person on the planet. So, we shall see :).
I was instructed to drink 36-40 oz of water 1 hour before our doctor’s appointment, which was at 8:00. I drank one 22 oz glass at home and another glass on the way to the appointment and was surprised at how comfortable I was when we got to the office. I drink a lot of water on a daily basis so maybe this wasn’t going to be as bad as I thought.
Flash forward to 9:30 and I thought I was going to DIE! They were backed up as the first retrieval of the morning had 43 eggs! I overheard the doctor say that this is not normal…seriously?!?! But back to my bladder…the pain was intense and I can honestly say this has been worst part of the whole experience. I asked Jerry to find out how much longer because I was at the point where I wanted to just call the whole thing off. Fortunately, I was told I was going back soon and they would scan my bladder to determine if it was too full. Sure enough, a big, fat, bloated bladder popped up on the screen and I was allowed to empty 1 1/2 cups of fluid. And Jerry thought I was just being a baby…
We ended up transferring 2 embryos. The first one split into 6 cells and was given a quality grade of B. The second one split into 4 cells but the quality was better (A). Dr. D said that she had seen plenty of pregnancies from a 4 celled embryo and this little guy might just be a little slow in developing. I’m still feeling very positive and for right now, I’m pregnant until proven otherwise!
I’m going to spend the weekend taking it easy and relaxing. It’s supposed to rain all weekend so it’ll be perfect to curl up on the couch and get caught up on movies and clear the DVR. Next doctor’s appointment is May 17th to check my progesterone level.
Have a great weekend everyone! xoxo
Jerry gave me my first progesterone shot last night. It hurt him more than it hurt me. I’ve decided that laying down is going to be the way to go with these shots. My muscles are more relaxed than if I were standing up and I think this helps with the pain.
It helps that he can’t see my face but the poor guy was definitely feeling the pressure. I just kept waiting for him to do it and started to tense up a bit while he was getting his nerves under control. But he finally just went for it and then felt horrible afterwards, even though I assured him that he did a great job and it really didn’t hurt much at all.
So the report…
Of the 3 eggs that fertilized, 2 of them have divided. So we have one 2 celled embryo and one 3 celled embryo. This is all perfectly normal for this stage in development, according to the embryologist. There is still a chance for the one that hasn’t divided…perhaps it’s just developing slowly and we’ll know if it’s viable tomorrow at our appt. Jerry is keeping the faith and calling it The Little Embryo That Could. We’re staying positive!!
Our appointment is tomorrow at 8:00. We’ll have a consult with Dr. S to decide how many to transfer and then they will immediately do the procedure. Jerry is allowed to stay with me the whole time, which I’m extremely grateful for. Then he’s going to take me home and, along with my Mom, wait on me hand and foot all weekend! Sounds divine…:).
My favorite part of the whole appointment tomorrow is the 40 oz of water I have to drink an hour before the procedure. I need to have a very full bladder so they can get a clear picture of my uterus when transferring the embryos. And then I can’t relieve myself for 30 minutes after it’s finished. Now…I get up twice a night to pee. I go at least once an hour at work. I HATE that feeling of having to go. I would honestly rather get 50 shots tomorrow in my already sore butt cheeks than have to deal with this full bladder thing. But as Jerry & I have been saying all along…it’s all for the greater good. I’m sure I’ll survive, but I can’t guarantee I won’t urinate on the table during the procedure. I’m sure it’s happened before, right?
I left the phone number for the embryologist at home (Of course I did) so I had to call the office and leave a message for them to call me back. I hate when I do dumb stuff like that. I’m organized, for Pete’s sake!! But this morning was a bit of a whirlwind so I’m cutting myself some slack.
They called me back with the report @ 11:30
Of the 8 eggs retrieved, 4 were mature enough to inject. Of the 4 they injected, 3 fertilized and are growing. So right now we have 3 little guys in the lab doing their thing…getting big and strong. That’s how I’m envisioning it…positive imagery people. Let’s all do it!
They want to see the embryos divide into 2, 3, or 4 cells overnight (my Dad pointed out the odd numbered cell division as….odd and he’s right…but that’s what the embryologist said and she’s the expert). And by Friday, they want them to get to 5, 6, 7 or 8 cells. They will be graded for quality and then we’ll know how many we will be transferring. Jerry and I have already started discussions on our plan but we’re keeping it to ourselves for now (Mwahahahahaaaaaaa!). So please keep those prayers and good vibes coming…
As far as the recovery is going, let me first start by saying that if you are a gentleman or you just don’t want to hear about female body stuff…you are excused. A lot of this might be TMI. I will leave you with a picture of my nephew…who could just be saying “girl stuff is yucky”.
But for anyone who might be going through this at some point, here are my observations:
1. The bloat – I know, I’m a broken record. But I’ve never experienced anything like this. Imagine eating a Pizza Hut supreme pan pizza (mmmm, pizza) chased down with a pitcher of beer…all in about 15 minutes. Think of how you’d feel. Full and disgusting and GROSS! Except you’re starving. That’s me. I’m wearing my loosest pair of pants today and I may have to wear the same ones tomorrow. Then it’s stretchy pants all weekend!
2. Breast tenderness – in all of my research on symptoms following retrieval, this was never mentioned. I think it probably has more to do with all of the hormones but yowza.. The girls are super sore and HUGE. And they seem to be growing out from under my armpits (???), not from the center of my chest so it doesn’t even look good! I feel like my body is being hijacked by aliens right now.
3. Constipation – this is a pretty common complaint. So much so that it’s mentioned twice in my information packet from the office. Combine the fact that nothing has happened in my digestive tract in 3 days along with the aforementioned bloat….I’m pretty darned miserable at this point. And yes, Mother, I tried the warm prune juice. Nada. This will hopefully correct itself once the anesthesia is out of my system. Hopefully.
4 Bruised ovaries – I still don’t have any pain, but everything just feels bruised around my lady organs. Kind of achy, almost. Considering the manipulation of yesterday, it’s understandable.
5. Bruised injection site – the PIO shot didn’t hurt but the resulting bruise at the site sure does! I feel like I was karate kicked in my behind. I guess I’ll just need to get used to this.
6. Exhaustion – This probably has more to do with Sherman than the procedure. He opened up his cyst again and we had to put the cone back on him. This makes him hot, which makes him thirsty, which makes him have to pee (twice) in the middle of the night. My Mom has graciously offered to take him for the weekend (you do remember saying that, right???) so Jerry and I can get some rest this weekend.
So that’s not all that icky. I haven’t had some of the symptoms other girls have complained of (spotting, discharge, ovarian hyper stimulation, etc) so I consider myself very lucky!
Keep those prayers coming! We will need every single one of them.
In true Jenny & Jerry fashion, we showed up at 5;45 am (if you’re not 10 minutes early, you’re 5 minutes late!). But we signed in first and that means we were #1 in line!!
It didn’t take long for them to call our names. Jerry went to his little room and I went to the recovery suite where they put me in a pretty gown, hat and booties. Looking good at 6 am!
The nursing staff at Magee is so fantastic. I just can’t say enough great things about them. My nurse anesthetist was a very kind woman named Sylvia and she handled my tender veins with kid gloves. She used a pediatric needle and I barely felt it. Jerry joined me just in time for a different nurse to arrive and go over all of the discharge paperwork.
In addition to all of the restrictions that go along with anesthesia, I’m basically just supposed to take it easy for the next few days. I also received my new drug protocol:
|25 mg||At Retrieval||At Retrieval||At Retrieval||At Retrieval|
|7-May||Tues||3x per day||25 mg||AM||AM||PM|
I asked Jerry to take notes and update my spreadsheet (of course I did!) so we wouldn’t forget anything. It was around this time Dr. W popped his head in to introduce himself and say hello to Jerry. The doctors performing the surgery rotate each day and Dr. S was out of town. I was happy that Jerry knew Dr. W and said I was in excellent hands. And before you know it…the nurse came by and whisked me away to the procedure room!
I was able to walk to the room and the nurse help me get situated on the table. They strap your arms out to the side (like Jesus) and put your legs (yes, legs…not feet) in the stirrups. I must admit, I was feeling pretty vulnerable at that point! I didn’t have much time to dwell on the awkwardness of it all…Dr. W came into the room and said “Here we go Steelers” (very random, but it made me feel more comfortable). And then I woke up in the recovery room. Easy peasy. Anesthesia is so strange!
I guess the nurse talked to Jerry while I was out cold. So when I finally got my wits about me, he told me they retrieved 8 eggs (oocytes). Not too shabby for a 40 year old chica with a lazy ovary! For those of you not familiar with what comes next…you can get more information on the process here. We are scheduled for a 3 day transfer which will by on Friday. My instructions are to call the lab tomorrow between 10-12 for the fertilization results.
Now for the dreaded Progesterone in Oil shot!! Just to recap…these are the shots with the ONE AND A HALF INCH needle that have to be injected into my butt muscle for the next (hopefully) 12 weeks. The office told me to bring my needle, syringe and vial to the appointment so the nurse could show Jerry how to measure the dose and do the injections. I couldn’t really see what they were doing, as they were mixing things up behind me. All I had to do was roll onto my side and act as the dart board. She talked him through it…“don’t go slow…just shoot it like a dart and push the plunger as quickly as possible”. Done and done. Little sting…over in no time. Check back with me in a couple of weeks but it was really no big deal!
I have heard all kind of mixed opinions of the egg retrieval process. I should start off my saying…I feel like I have a pretty low pain tolerance (aka…I’m a huge baby). But I can said the most pain I had was the IV. I had a teeny bit of cramping in recovery but seriously, it was teeny and very short lived. The bloating is no joke though. I tend to get bloated as it is…but this is ridiculous. I’m sitting here, 6 hours later and I’m wondering how I can get away with wearing yoga pants to work tomorrow. This supposedly subsides after a few days so here’s hoping!
Thank you to everyone for all of the comments, texts and emails. I swear…if prayers and good thoughts can will us a baby…I’m gonna be Octomom! Our family and friends have been such an invaluable source of comfort throughout this process. Jerry and I are very blessed.
Jerry feeding my niece last night…yes, he looks a little stiff, but it’s progress! He was a pro by the time the bottle was finished.
6:00 am came very early this morning! Ugh…fortunately I had a stellar night’s sleep. Sherman slept through the whole night!
Good news…this was my last blood test for a while! My poor veins will be getting a much needed break. Here are today’s results:
|Required||> 1000||< 2.0||< 5.0||5|
The nurse said all of my numbers looked great (not sure why the LH is so high?) so we will be doing the egg retrieval on Tuesday! Yay!! I’m supposed to do the Trigger Shot (Ovidrel) tonight at exactly 8:00. And tomorrow, I get a free day…no shots for me! Yipeeeeeeeee!! I still need to take the Dexamethasone, but that’s it.
We need to report to Magee at 6 am on Tuesday. Jerry will do his thing and they will sedate me, remove my eggs and our stuff will meet in the embryology lab. Very romantic. Because of Jerry’s low sperm count and my age, we will be having some additional assistance in the form of ICSI and Assisted Hatching. After my procedure, they will show Jerry how to give me the progesterone injections (dread!) and review the meds I’ll be on to prevent infection. I will be started on baby aspirin to help thin my blood as I have a history of clots. Then I’ll go home, rest and wait to hear how many eggs they have fertilized. Exciting days ahead!
After a long and relatively stressful week, I decided Jerry and I needed a welcome distraction from all of the IVF hoopla. So I decided to surprise him with tickets to the Pirates Game (this is our year!). I also baked him some chocolate chip cookies…he’s been so great throughout this whole ordeal, he deserves a little reward for his patience and late night trips taking Sherman out. I told him he had to pick where we went to dinner (Primanti Brothers in Market Square) and then we’d head over to the game.
I brought all of my shot stuff with me and the plan was to mix it up quickly in the car and then be on our way. I realized when I was about to get mixing that I forgot a needle for the Follistim Pen. Dammit! Seriously??? So we decided to leave the game a little early so we could be home by 9 (shot time is between 6-9). And that’s how I screwed up our night!
There is such a beautiful view of the city from PNC Park.
And our seats were pretty great.
We had fun while we were there!
So more blood work and another ultrasound this morning.
|Required||> 1000||< 2.0||< 5.0||5|
Follicle size: R- 20,17, 16, 16, 13, 12 and 3 <10 L – still 2 < 10
My E2 still isn’t at 1000 so they want me to continue with the same protocol as before and come in the morning for more blood work. The Pittsburgh Marathon is tomorrow and the course just so happens to run close to our house and through Oakland (which is where Magee Hospital is). So my appt is @ 6:30 and I’m going to leave around 6 before they start closing streets.
I mentioned that I only had enough Follistim for one more night. The nurse conferred with a senior nurse and came back to say she didn’t think I would need more that than. And if we did “they could come up with a game plan to get the dosage I needed for Sunday”. Mmkay. Not sure what that means but she was pretty confident that I will be triggering tomorrow night and the retrieval will be on Tuesday.
|4-May||Sat||9||3x per day||450||300||1 mg||x|
So fingers crossed…Tuesday is go time!
Day 8??? How did we get here already?
I have decided I’m officially sick of needles. I’m running out of places to stick myself for these subcutaneous shots. My poor stomach…between the bruising and the bloat (major bloat going on!), it’s not pretty. Not that my abs have ever been my best feature. But they’re a hot mess right now. I’ve moved on to my thigh but it’s proving more difficult to grab onto skin than I thought. Last nights injections were really rough.
I had blood work this morning and my arms have decided they’re sick of being pricked too. I have pretty small veins and apparently, there is only one “good one” in each arm. So even though I alternate arms, they are drawing from the same spot and this morning was really painful. Whaaaaaa! Not much more of this…fingers crossed.
|Required||> 1000||< 2.0||< 5.0||5|
The Estrogen did it’s doubling and the progesterone is where it should be. They increased the Follistim and told me to come back tomorrow @ 7:45 for more blood work and an ultrasound.
|3-May||Fri||8||3x per day||450||300||1 mg||morning|
Slight problem…according to the new protocol, I’m going to run out of the Follistim. I spoke with the lead nurse who suggested we just wait until the blood work comes back tomorrow. She indicated that I was on the surgical schedule for tentative retrieval on Tuesday (EEEEEKK!). But that it’s very possible Dr. S could look at my numbers tomorrow, have me trigger Sat night and come in on Monday. So I’m to sit tight and wait till tomorrow afternoon. Done and done.