When You Put All of Your Eggs in One Basket

I know, the common saying is “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” With our invitro cycle, I feel like that’s exactly what happened. As if all 18 of my eggs were in that one basket and it got dropped and each one broke. 

To fill you in, our IVF cycle didn’t end as we had hoped. We were given a glimmer of positive news after my first quantitative hCG blood draw, as that test showed I was pregnant! Implantation had occurred, but our numbers were lower than ideal. After a second blood draw, the hCG level had fallen, indicating that this pregnancy had failed. 

There is a multitude of things that go into an IVF cycle, so this type of news was crushing and devastating.We knew there was a chance that this could happen, but we put all our eggs in one basket anyways and hoped for the best. 

I have been trying to focus on the future and what is next. Thinking about the past is painful, so I’ve got to hold my head high and know that one day we will receive our miracle.

Here are a few thoughts that have been racing through my head these last couple of days as I process this loss and look towards the future.

*Technically, I have now carried 5 babies and lost them all. This hurts. But, what is the cause? Is it genetics? Do mine and my husband’s genetic make-up not work together? Or, is it me? Is my body unable to sustain a life within?

*Taking a break. Yes, a break is in order. Basically, our entire married life has revolved around producing a child. It’s been stressful and difficult. We need to take a step back from all of this chaos and focus on each other and our love for one another. I am unsure of the length of this break. It might be a few months or it might be a year or more. It’s scary to me to put this journey in hold. The longer it’s on hold, the longer it will be before we can hold a baby in our arms. But, we need a break for sanity as well as financially.
*It’s seeming like we will be pursuing options where our child may not have our DNA. It might sound bad, but it’s hard to switch gears and to think that our child wouldn’t look like us. They wouldn’t be tall and thin like my husband or have my blue eyes. I’m certain we would love them the same, but it’s just something I’ve been thinking about. We have been discussing a few different avenues of adoption, including infant adoption and a snowflake baby (embryo adoption). 

* I feel thankful. (Might seem a little odd after deal with all of this, but I do.) I feel especially thankful for all of the love and support we have as we ride through this journey of infertility. We have so many wonderful people in our lives that have let us know that they are here for us. A simple hug from a friend or a conversation that gives me hope seems to keep me going. I’m also so thankful that even if I can’t have a child of my own right now, I still get to spend each day with such a bright group of kiddos in my daycare. Their smiles and and snuggles these last few days have made life much easier. 

Although, we are going through a rough patch, we won’t be giving up. We will be continuing our journey towards parenthood. We have an appointment towards the end of the month with our fertility doctor. Looking forward to getting answers to our many questions and with his guidance deciding what the next steps will be.

Thank you for your continued support and prayers. 

Photo credits: here and here.

2ww…

A 2ww (or 2 week wait) is usually considered the time between ovulation and your next expected period. Or, for this cycle for us it’s the time from Embryo Transfer to my quantitative hCG test. (Which will actually end up being a little longer than 2 weeks of waiting!)

The time during the 2ww usually goes painfully slow as you simply wait to see if this cycle worked. I have done my fair share of 2wws, but this IVF wait seems like it’s been one of the longest!!

It’s good to find things to keep yourself preoccupied and busy during this time. Of course, there will be times (maybe many times) that you will just sit and think or maybe sit and worry, wondering if the cycle worked. 

I have been doing my best to stay busy, but I have to admit some days have been tougher than others to find the motivation to keep busy. Here are some enjoyable things that have helped me keep my mind off of things:

-I met up with a friend from college for dinner. It was a nice little outing and was super fun to catch up with an old friend.

-The weather has been gorgeous, so we had a bonfire the other night. So relaxing to hang out by the warm fire on a cool fall evening.

-We celebrated at friend’s birthday. A group of us went out for dinner and stopped at our local brewery afterwards. I of course couldn’t have a drink, but it was still fun to get together with friends.

-We have went to church. We aren’t always the “best” at getting there each week. But, it was good to spend some time hearing the word of God these last couple of weeks.

-I’ve been busy with projects around the house. I cleaned my car, did some trimming and weeding in my flower beds, put up fall decorations and all the regular cleaning, dishes, etc.

-I have been praying a lot. Not only for me and my 2ww, but for others in need of prayers too. 

-We had friends over for yummy lasagna and football watching! Good food and a good game!

-I’ve been trying my best to relax by not having any extra obligations, sleeping in on weekends and I even bought an adult coloring book. I have to admit coloring is an extremely relaxing activity. I have been skeptical of this adult coloring book fad, but I’m happy I’m giving it a shot!

Here is rhe start of my coloring. Love the inspirational quotes on each page.

Wish us luck as this 2ww comes to a close. Soon we will be starting a new chapter. Hopefully our next chapter will be one of pregnancy. If not, however, it will be a new chapter of our continued journey towards parenthood.

Symptom check…Is it over?

It has been a exactly one week since our transfer! This week flew by, as I was quite busy with work! I have been noticing some possible “pregnancy-like” symptoms, but I think I’m hypersensitive to some of these symptoms just because I want to be pregnant! Also, I’m using progesterone suppositories and those, of course, can cause side effects that mimic pregnancy. Also, symptoms leading up to your period are likely to be very similar to pregnancy symptoms. So, how do you know what’s going on?! (Spoiler alert: You don’t!!!)

 Here’s what I do know! This week I have continued to be bloated. I’m not sure if it’s a sign at all, or just my ovaries still being slightly enlarged from stimulation and follicle growth. I have been able to squeeze back into jeans, but they are just not overly comfortable right now. Leggings have become my new best friend.

I have had little twinges of pain here and there in my abdomen and occasional cramps. Is this a sign? Could those embryos be burrowing in to my uterine lining and causing some discomfort? 

Sore boobs. Yep, they hurt. But, usually this happens before my period, so maybe a sign, or maybe not!

I have been tired. I’ve been going to bed relatively early and just feel tired and wore out! Is it because of a busy work week, or is something else causing this?

I feel hungry all the time. I feel myself snacking more and more between meals and just feel more hungry in general. And I seem to be craving sweets!

Sharper sense of smell? This is hard to gauge until regular smells make you want to vomit. I haven’t experienced that yet, but I feel like some smells have really caught my attention! We have had fruit flies in our house (yuck!) and the trap that we set out a couple of weeks ago hasn’t bothered me until the other day. While doing the dishes all I could smell was the fermented vinegar smell from that fruit fly trap! Hmmm….maybe it’s my nose or maybe it’s gotten more potent as its sat. Hard to tell!

And now for the trickiest symptom of all…this morning I started bleeding. Spotting, maybe? Or is it my period? As if right now, I don’t know. It seems a little late for implantation bleeding (our doctor said to expect that last Monday or Tuesday, as that’s when implantation should have taken place), but after reading message boards online, spotting during early pregnancy is “normal.” So what is this?! I feel like it might be my period and of course got in a good cry after feeling like this was all over. But, maybe it isn’t. I’m hoping it’s not over and hoping this is a pregnancy symptom rather than another period. 

As you can see as I evaluate all these signs…it really doesn’t tell me much. So, I just turn to prayer and pray that these are all “good signs” and pray that those little embryos hold on in there. 

My mind has been wandering all morning though. I’ve been thinking maybe taking a home pregnancy test would give me my answer. But, if it’s negative I’ll be wondering if it was just too early. If it’s positive, is this bleeding a chemical pregnancy? So, I’ve decided that a home pregnancy test isn’t my answer. I just need to wait another 9 days until my blood test.

Meanwhile, I’ll just continue to take things one day at a time. Spending the weekend relaxing and doing my best to keep the negative thoughts out. Even though, it’s natural to be thinking “What will be next for us if this doesn’t work?”…but that’s probably a topic for a whole different blog post.

Please send prayers that our little embryos hold on and that all these symptoms are pregnancy symptoms rather than medication side effects or my period making its entrance.

Picture credit here

Embryo Transfer

Yesterday was our Embryo Transfer. I realize that I am blogging a day late, but I did that on purpose. I needed yesterday to process our transfer and to organize my thoughts before sharing our Embryo Transfer with you.

Here is what our Embryo Transfer looked like:

-Due to our appointment being at 7am, we headed to Maple Grove on Friday night, rather than getting on the road so early Saturday morning. We ended up heading for a nice dinner out and stayed at a hotel near our fertility clinic.

-On our way to Maple Grove, we drove through some rain and saw these beautiful rainbows. I had Blake take a picture because what were the chances of seeing 2 separate rainbows at the same time when we were on our way to transfer 2 embryos? We have been hoping for a “Rainbow” …hmm… maybe this was a sign we will get not just 1 Rainbow Baby, but 2!?

The rainbows are a little hard to see– there is one on either side of the road.

-There was a lot of excitement (and some anxiety) before our Embryo Transfer. But, I was mostly excited to be at this point in our journey and knew that I would be leaving the clinic “Pregnant” or as many social media sites would say “PUPO” (Pregnant until Proven Otherwise). –Such a funny word! Hubby and I had a good laugh about it!

-Once we arrived at the clinic, we were taken back to the “Transfer Suite.” The nurse double-checked our identity, had me get into my gown and booties and take 600mg of Ibuprofen before the transfer.

-After meeting with the nurse, the embryologist came in to go over our embryos with us. She handed us a pamphlet that contained our “Embryo Report Card”and went over it with us. We had started with 18 eggs. 10 of those eggs were mature and were fertilized using Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection or ICSI (A process where each egg is injected with a viable single sperm, rather than surrounding the egg with sperm to let fertilization happen more naturally). Of those 10, 6 achieved fertilization. And currently, only 2 embryos were still thriving. The rest had degraded. This was unfortunate. Yes, we were thankful that we had 2 remaining, but we had hoped that this cycle would yield extra embryos so we would be able to expand our family in the future if this cycle worked, or if this cycle failed we would be able to use frozen embryos. It is much cheaper (about 1/4 of the cost to transfer frozen embryos) and I also wouldn’t have to go through the physical and emotional stress of doing injections and Egg Retrieval — So in a sense, having additional embryos to freeze would have been like a little insurance policy.

-After meeting with the Embryologist we had to wait a little while so our doctor could finish up with another Embryo Transfer. While we waited, I shed some tears. I was feeling much more anxiety now than excitement.

-Then our doctor came in and said he knew it was a bit disappointing that we only had 2 embryos left. He also said that one was stronger than the other and most likely just the one would make it. I was happy to hear that he hoped one would make it, but I would have felt better knowing that both of our remaining embryos had a good chance at survival.

-Then it was time for the Transfer. It was a relatively quick procedure. The lights were dimmed and soft relaxing music was played. My hubby was able to sit right next to me through the whole thing. A catheter was placed at just the right spot in my uterus where the embryos would be placed.

-The Embryologist then brought the embryos in. They were placed in a small tube that was inserted through the catheter that was already in place. They were inserted and that was it!

-I had to rest for about 10 minutes following the procedure and then we were free to get dressed and head home.

I’m not sure why, but I of course had an image in my head of what Embryo Transfer was going to be like. I felt like we were going to get to see and meet our little embryos, but they were just talked about and we didn’t actually see them. I also was so excited that I would be leaving the clinic “Pregnant.” But, I was so anxious about why all of the embryos had degraded that I really was feeling down and not excited at all. I felt like this was just like leaving most fertility appointments where once again I had been dealt another “crappy hand of cards.” It seems each time that there is something that just doesn’t work. So, I really should be used to these feelings, but this day I was hoping things would be different.

Once we arrived home yesterday, I was able to just sit and process of my mixed emotions. I cried a lot, prayed a lot, took a nap, and did a little research on things. Afterwards, and today, I am feeling better. I am feeling more much more hopeful. In my research, I found out that usually only 30-50% of embryos make it to a day 5 transfer. So, statistically, it was kind of “normal” to experience what we had.

I am supposed to be taking it easy these next few days, which I have been doing pretty good with so far. Lots of relaxing! Today, I decided to dig out my Fall decorations, making sure not to over do it. The season of fall just resonates Thankfulness. While putting out decorations I found this framed bible verse that I display during this season of Thankfulness. It made me realize even more that I have so much to be thankful for. Especially for these 2 small embryos that I carry within.

 

 

Lots of waiting!!

These last few days have included copious amounts of waiting. Waiting to start feeling better for me (It’s been a long week with a lot of cramping, bloating, and soreness. Today I’m finally feeling better!) And waiting for updates on our embryos at the lab!!!

Tuesday we received a message from our fertility clinic (they leave messages on a secure voicemail so you can check them when it’s convenient for you since most contain private and sensitive information). The message included some great news, that fertilization had taken place and that we would be having a 5 day transfer (so 5 days after retrieval). The number of days that the embryos spend in the Petrie dishes depends on the number of viable embryos. If you have more embryos (5+) they will culture them for 5 days until they are a blastocyst. At the 5 day mark, they are able to grade each embryo and make sure they are transferring the strongest ones back to your uterus. If there are fewer embryos after fertilization (less than 5) they will do the transfer 2 days after fertilization because the uterus is a better incubator than the ones in the lab. So, the chances of survival are greater when they are placed in the uterus sooner. The drawback to this earlier transfer is they are not able to grade the embryos to know which ones are the strongest. So, all in all, I was happy to get the news that a 5 day transfer was scheduled for us!

Wednesday -Thursday I continued to check our secure voicemail. Any updates would be left on there and I didn’t want to miss a thing! I was hoping to get a number of how many embryos we had, but there were no messages left these days. I guess no news is good news, right?!

Friday  (today) I received another message. We are still scheduled for a 5 day transfer and need to check into the clinic at 7am tomorrow! The message said we will get an embryo “report card” that shows the quality of the embryos (I still want to know how many…but I guess I’ll have to wait one more day!)

Here is a picture diagram we received on retrieval day. I’ve been following along to see how big the embryos are getting. It is so crazy that humans start like this! So amazing!

Continue to send prayers as we prepare for Transfer Day and the upcoming weeks which will also include lots and lots of waiting!

Retrieval!! 

Today was our egg retrieval!! We had 18 eggs retrieved! So happy that there were lots of little eggs in those follicles!

Had to take a quick picture before retrieval! Lots of excitement (and a few nerves too!)

Here is step by step how our retrieval appointment went.

*We arrived an hour before the scheduled retrieval. Once admitted we went to our egg retrieval “suite.” (A room with a large comfy chair for me and a table and other chairs for hubby and a TV)

*Next hubby was taken to go do his collection and I changed not my gown (and special little booties!)

*My vitals were checked and  I was given an oral medication to help me to relax. They also got my IV in. (I was super impressed at how well our nurse did with my IV. The last time I had one a few months back, I was poked 6 times, and they ended up putting the IV up in the crease by my elbow and left a huge bruise on my arm!– this nurse did one little poke in my hand and it was set!)

*Then we had to do some waiting until it was “time.” We had brought with a little bag with magazines, books, etc. which was nice because there was a fair amount of waiting throughout the day (especially for Blake)

*Our doctor came in and visited to explain the procedure and I was ready to go!

*The procedure room was warm and dark. There were 2 nurses that got me all set up.The procedure room was right next to the laboratory. Even the embryologist came out to introduce herself. It was nice to meet the lady that would be handling my eggs in the lab.

*When the procedure started, I was partially sedated. I mostly just felt tired and little dizzy, but I was still awake!

*Our doctor inserted the aspiration needle and ultrasound. There were two screens that I could watch. One that showed the ultrasound view and one that showed the Petrie dishes in the lab as she poured the contents of the follicles into the dish to look for eggs. Hubby was also able to watch on a screen in the egg retrieval suite. Here is a video he took of the retrieval. You can see the needle poking in the follicles and drawing out the fluid from each one. Science is so awesome!! I’m so happy I was able to be “awake” to watch this during the procedure!

*After the retrieval we waited for the anesthesia the wear off and I had some animal crackers! No nausea for me, but I was definitely tired. I’m pretty uncomfortable in my tummy…almost like cramping. It doesn’t really hurt if I don’t move, but standing up and walking is quite painful. Happy to have the week off to recover and get ready for transfer day!

*After the eggs were retrieved, they were fertilized in a Petrie dish and we should find out tomorrow how many of the 18 fertilized. From what I’ve read, usually about 70% will fertilize. Looking forward to that call tomorrow to get an update on our embryos!

Thank you for the prayers as today went just as planned!

This Man…

Infertility is not easy. In our case, I’m the “problem.” I have PCOS which is the root of our infertility. Fortunately, Blake is “all good.” No issues for him as far as fertility goes! In some ways, this does bring some jealousy on my part. I’m the one having all of the procedures, injections, etc, while he seemingly sits back and watches.

I am so thankful for him though. The further we go through this journey the more and more I appreciate having him by my side.

Here are some of the reasons I’m so thankful for “this man…” ::

He is calm.  Always. I’m the one who easily stresses and easily gets uptight when things aren’t going well. Each failed cycle, I was crushed. Meanwhile, hubby was always calm and encouraging. Always remaining hopeful and rather than dwelling on the past, looking to the future and what treatments we will try next.

He is helpful and handy. It’s so nice knowing that when things break around the house, he will have a solution for fixing it. Occasionally, I’ve been under the weather through treatments and he will help out– even of its just by making a pizza so I dont have to cook dinner. Might seem like a small gesture, but helping with the small stuff is huge most days.

He is hardworking. Being a lineman is not an easy job. I know that he puts his life on the line during some of the nastiest weather to keep everyone’s lights on. If it weren’t for his hard working nature, paying for fertility treatments would be out of the picture. So thankful that he works hard to support us and our future family.

He always encourages time for relaxation at the end of the day. Relaxation is important, especially through the stressful times of infertility. I tend to be more of a busy body. If Blake is gone, I won’t sit down. I’ll be busy working around the house until I go to bed. But, Blake encourages me to relax. Forces me to take time at the end of the day just to sit (usually in front of the tv). He will also encourage me to to hop in the bath if I’m not feeling well or if I had a stressful day. Sometimes he even gets the water going and all set up. It’s the little things that make you feel extra appreciated. And a hot bath always makes you feel better!

Lots of hugs. (I don’t want to sound cheesy)…but a hug and a kiss before work and after really make my day better. Just knowing that he is by my side makes every day better.

He loves me no matter what. At my worst and at my best. Even when the root of our infertility is my “fault” he makes me confident that we are in this together. I’ve heard many stories where marriages fall apart due to infertility. It is stressful and hard, but I am confident that our love is stronger because of it.

 To share some appreciation for my amazing hubby I put together a little IVF survival kit for him. This journey is as stressful for him as it is for me. Also, these upcoming appointments will include lots of waiting in the clinic, so I figured he could use a magazine and a new book to help pass the the time. I also included some of his favorite snacks and a shirt that I am hoping he will be able to wear when we are through with this IVF cycle.

Did I mention I’m super THANKFUL for this man??!  Thank you Blake for all that you do. Those of you struggling with infertility, be sure to thank your significant other. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to work through this together. Those of you that don’t have to deal with infertility, thank your significant other anyways. Having a partner for life is the best.

Trigger Time! 

Tonight I did my hCG trigger shot at 9:30pm. Actually, our friend and neighbor who is a nurse ended up giving it to me! I did this same injection throughout our Letrozole cycles, but due to the importance of this injection I figured I’d phone a friend for some assistance. Giving yourself intramuscular injections with a inch a half long needle isn’t easy. So, I figured I’d ask and know that it was getting done the right way, rather than me getting super nervous and worrying about hitting a vein, etc. This was my final IVF injection and injection #58!!

Timing is very important when it comes to this injection because ovulation will occur 36 hours after. It is at exactly 36 hours later that my egg retrieval will take place to get all those mature eggs out!! So, Monday morning at 9:30am is our scheduled egg retrieval!

 I was instructed to inject a 1/2 dose (5,000 iu rather than 10,000 iu) of Novarel. After reading in our in vitro handbook, it seems that women who are at higher risk for Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) are to inject a lesser dose of hCG to hopefully avoid OHSS. OHSS is a condition that occurs with the use of stimulation medications to induce the growth of many follicles. Mild cases of OHSS include having soreness and swelling in the ovaries. There are more severe cases as well that can lead to stroke or even death. Click here for more details regarding Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome. I read that drinking lots of water and staying hydrated can help, so I have been sure to get plenty of fluids since I started stimulation medications and will continue to do so these next few days! 

Our egg retrieval was scheduled after today’s ultrasound which showed continued follicle growth. Along with the follicle growth has come some discomfort! My tummy is feeling tight and I have felt pretty “wore out” in general today. Happy it is the weekend so I am able to relax and getting excited for our upcoming egg retrieval!! I will be sure to update on Monday with how our egg retrieval goes! Wish us luck!!

Lots of change!

Today we had an ultrasound and estrogen level blood test at our fertility clinic. After Tuesday’s appointment showing so few follicles I was a little nervous about today’s appointment.

To my surprise, there were 25 total follicles!! 14 of those measured over 10mm! Feeling much more confident and hopeful in this process than I was on Tuesday. (I am unsure if more follicles have developed or if follicles were missed at my last appointment at our local clinic?!)

I have been feeling some discomfort and  bloating, but nothing horrible. The pain got me thinking, though, how big are my ovaries?! Currently, my right ovary has 14 follicles and my left ovary has 11. Apparently, the size of a mature follicle (which most of mine aren’t quite there yet) is about the size of a grape! Seems so big!! So I can just envision my ovaries as two big clumps of grapes. I also read that likely your ovaries will become the size if baseballs during IVF stimulation (usually they are about the size of an almond). So needless to say, it’s no wonder I’m feeling a little tender by my ovaries!

Above is an image from YouTube of a stimulated ovary to give you an idea of what they look like during an ultrasound.(I should have snapped a picture of mine today, but it didn’t even cross my mind!) Each follicle is counted and measured during the follicle study ultrasounds.

Today was my hubby’s first time coming to a follicle study ultrasound.He mostly came to help with the driving (it was an early morning leaving home at 4am to reach our fertility clinic by 7am). But, I think he was pretty amazed watching the ultrasound and getting to record the sizes of all of the follicles on a chart for the doctor. It was just nice having him along to see what this step of the IVF process is all about! 

Next, I will be continuing my medications at all of the same doses and will have another (and hopefully last) ultrasound this Saturday! Getting excited for our soon approaching egg retrieval!!

Ultrasound #3 Update

This morning I had my 3rd ultrasound and estrogen level blood test. Today there were 5 follicles in my right ovary that measured over 10mm. The largest was 17mm and the others were 10-12mm. My left ovary seems to be slacking a bit and only has 2 follicles over 10mm.Both in the 10-12mm range.There was also 1 smaller follicle on that side that measured at about 9mm. At my ultrasounds they only count and measure follicles that are over 10mm, so today there were 7 that were large enough.

After leaving my appointment I was excited knowing that the follicles are continuing to grow. But… then I got to thinking about how few follicles I have. Many IVF cycles seem to end up with 15+ eggs and right now we might get 7 or 8 at the most. I feel like the more follicles you have, the more eggs are harvested and the greater the success rates. So, after some tears and worrying, I’ve decided it is what it is! I just need to focus on remaining hopeful.Our doctor wants me to continue the same medication regimen (2.5iu Leuprolide Acetate and 150iu Gonal F in the morning and 150iu Menopur in the evening). I will have another ultrasound on Thursday. Currently, all of our ultrasounds have been preformed at a local clinic  (about 45 minutes from our home) but Thursday’s will be done at our fertility clinic  (about 2.5 hours from our home). I’m happy to have our fertility clinic preforming our next (and possibly last) ultrasound just to make sure everything looks good for our upcoming retreival! Wish us luck! Praying the follicles continue to grow and maybe a couple more will appear!