Infertility Bingo

So, after my latest “development” I have decided there should be an infertility bingo game.  So far my squares for 1st IVF, multiple IVFs, 1st FET, an HSC, BFNs, BFPs and miscarriages are filled, but now I can fill in my chemical pregnancy square, too.  I better be close to calling “BINGO” soon!

I went back 3 days after my first beta and my HCG had dropped to 16.  Chemical pregnancy.  While disappointing, although not entirely a surprise, oddly, there was a sense of relief.  I am sorry if that sounds cold or crass, but I don’t think I could have gone through the waiting for the ultrasounds that would lead to disappointment, then waiting for the miscarriage and getting my cycle back to normal before we could start the donor process again.

While I had that small sense of relief, I was angry and now I am realizing that I am grieving this loss, too.  I am unmotivated, have little energy and feel lost.  This whole journey feels like one disappointment after another, actually, it is wait, wait, disappointment, then more waiting before the next disappointment.

To add to the pain, we are now waiting even longer to start the process.  The donor we chose was also chosen by another couple, however we were going to be able to squeeze our cycle in first because they had to have surgery.  Now that I had the chemical pregnancy and we have to wait for my cycle to get back to normal, the other couple is ready to go.  So, it is only fair that they go first now since we had jumped in front of them in line.  Initially we were told it would be late May/early June, which I was OK with me, I could deal with that timeline.  It now turns out it will be late June/early July – I know it is only one more month, but it was a jolt.  It made me reconsider our chosen donor, I needed to decide what was more important, using the donor we chose or going through the cycle sooner?  It really threw me.  I spent an hour talking to my therapist about it, I spent an hour talking to C about it, then sat and reviewed the profiles of our top two picks then meditated 15 minutes.  I decided we should wait and use our original choice.  So, it’s back to the waiting game and hoping the next square I get to fill in on the bingo card is “healthy baby” – that’s when I will scream “BINGO” from the rooftops.

P.S.  Sorry this post is all over the place – bear with me as I work through all of this.

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Life is an insufferable b*$#h!

In the midst of choosing our donor and getting the procedures scheduled, we started planning a trip to Hawaii.  We had planned to go later in the year, hopefully when I was in my second trimester.  My husband’s coworker, who also struggled with his wife to get pregnant, started telling him horror stories about traveling with a potential high risk pregnancy; their doctor told them not to do it.  So, that scared my husband into reconsidering the trip.  We figured it was take our chances, go now or don’t go at all.  We decided to go now.  We quickly booked flights and the hotel for three weeks from then, just before I would have to start my injections.  Yea!

That was a little more than two weeks ago.  Fast forward to last week, I was going back and forth with the clinic getting things organized and making sure the meds would get ordered so they were here when we got back.  My nurse sent me an email last Friday saying she had placed the order and we should touch base on Sunday – I was very excited.  Strangely, since my miscarriages my cycle has been very regular, 28 days, no matter what, so I was expecting my period on Sunday (Monday at the very latest).  I figured I would call my nurse on Sunday morning to let her know my cycle had started and talk about the medication schedule.  I woke up on Sunday without my period, a little strange since it usually comes first thing in the morning.  I was so impatient for it to start this time – so just to rule it out I took a home pregnancy test (I didn’t think I could be pregnant).  I got a faint positive.  Are you f-ing kidding me??  I left my nurse a message (I didn’t tell her), then C and I ran a few errands and picked up more pregnancy tests.  I took two more when we got home – both also positive.  I can’t believe this, I am freaking out.  C’s reaction was more of “Oh crap!”  I knew what he meant, with our history with my eggs and when we were just about to start our donor cycle.

I got the call back from my nurse and just as she was about to launch into the meds schedule, I had to stop her and tell her I think I am pregnant.  She was blown away and didn’t know what to say at first.  This was the last thing she expected to hear.  She said, OK, let’s put this schedule off to the side and figure this out.  She told me to come up first thing Monday morning for a blood test, she knew there was no way my OB could get me in that quickly and usually they don’t get the urgency of the situation like the fertility clinic does.  So then I just had to sit and freak out until Monday morning.

I woke up early and headed to the clinic, I was in a good mood and feeling cautiously optimistic (and a little scared).  It took until mid-afternoon before the call came with the results, I was very anxious.  It was not good news.  My HGC was 20 and progesterone was 6, they want them to be at least 50 and 10-12.  Damn!  This is the worst they have ever been, it looks like this one is headed for a miscarriage, too.  I was so deflated and … pissed!  I can’t believe this!  Really?  Did I really need another miscarriage to convince me that donor eggs are our best choice?  No, I didn’t!  I was there, I was ready, I was excited.  We had taken a year off from fertility treatments and thought maybe we would get pregnant on our own again (and it would work) and it gave me the time to get used to the idea of using donor eggs; then right before we are to start the process I get pregnant?  It would be one thing if this was going to be a viable pregnancy, but it does not appear to be heading that way.  We finally had some hope again, we were looking forward and planning for the future and now that is all on hold again.  I just don’t understand.  It is so frustrating.  My therapist said the only word she could come up with was cruel, that feels about right.  Why does life have to be so cruel sometimes?

I am done venting.  I go back to the clinic on Thursday to see if things have improved, I am not holding my breath.  At least I have Hawaii to look forward to, although it feels there is a damper on that now.  Good night, all.

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Here we go again

So, the decision has been made and we are going with donor eggs.  I met with our RE and he said he has no problem with my eggs, he would use my eggs again if we want (we got 15 when we went through out first IVF with him and my hormone levels are all still good), but he had to admit that after three miscarriages our chances were much better with the donor eggs.  If money were no object, we would keep trying with my eggs, but this may be our last chance so we are going for our best shot.  Coming to this decision was not easy, but there were factors that made it the right decision for us.  I always knew I wanted to experience pregnancy, it was important to me.  My husband was a big factor in this decision as well, firstly he has heard too many adoption horror stories so he is set against it (I would have been open to it, but he just isn’t comfortable with it); secondly he is the last person on his mom’s side of the family and he has a half brother that we aren’t sure will ever have children, so it felt important to me to be able to carry his genetic line on.  Donor eggs it is.

The day after I met with Dr. S, we went back to meet with the donor coordinator, she was able to answer questions about the process and told us she had a donor in mind for us.  It was a lot of info to take in, so we went home to go through the donor list and sit with the decision.  That all happened on a Friday, by Sunday night we had narrowed it down to 3 and ranked them.  Then it all moved very quickly.  That Monday we found out our top choice had just gone through a cycle that had  resulted in a chemical pregnancy, that was enough to scare us off of her.  She was number one on my list with no one else close to her in my mind, so it was hard at first to let go of her.  Then I sat and really thought about what was important to me, the most important was having a baby, that made it easier to let her go and I realized our second choice donor was a great choice.  There was nothing about her that should have made her number two.  We let the clinic know our choice and scheduled the retrieval for the week of April 1st.  Now it was just a matter of getting the meds ordered and waiting for my period to come.    People told me that first step always takes the longest, then the rest comes so quickly.  So true!

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I’m Back – In a different place, yet still so much the same

It’s two years later, a lot of joy, a lot of pain, a lot of learning and a lot of growth.  I won’t go into great detail on what the last 2 years have held (you can check out my “About” page to get an idea of what has happened), but here’s a little (or a lot) about it.

We did change REs, it was a great decision.  Dr. S is great; he is a control freak, straight forward and positive.  His lab and operating rooms are all in house (not contracted out), he controls it all and as a result has a great success rate.  His nurses are fantastic, as well.  We have been working with them since early 2010 and have had successes and heartbreaks.  Our first IVF with him was in June 2010, it was our first positive pregnancy test ever.  Unfortunately it never made it past the gestational sac and yolk sac.  It was devastating and I chose to do a D&C because I could not imagine carrying it around with me any longer (a decision I later regretted).  We had 5 embryos to freeze and chose to do an FET in November 2010.  They had to go through 4 of the 5 embryos to get 2 to transfer – the doctor was not encouraged by this, but said the ones we had looked good.  It was another pregnancy with the same results as the first.  This time I chose to miscarry naturally because I could not bear another D&C, although neither choice is a pleasant one.  I ended up in the ER on a very early Sunday morning because I was bleeding so heavily.  For mental, physical and financial reasons we needed to take a little break.  We met with the doctor and he said if we wanted to do another IVF not to wait too long as our chances of success drop significantly after 40.  We also opened the possibility of using donor eggs, something I was not ready to consider.

I miscarried the second time in January 2011, and two months later we got pregnant naturally!  It was a miracle and I thought this one has got to be meant to be.  No such luck, and just like the first two we had the gestational sac with no fetal pole or fetus visible. So in May 2011, I went through my third miscarriage in 10 months.  That was the point my head knew donor eggs were our best choice, but my heart was not ready to deal with it.

We knew financially we would have to wait to go through the donor egg process, so I spent the rest of 2011 hoping to get pregnant naturally again and working on myself to get to a point of being comfortable with using donor eggs.  It was so hard to let go of the baby not being me.   I had been seeing a counselor since my first miscarriage and it helped a lot; it was a great support and good to have someone to vent to who was outside my circle of friends and family.  I had been going to meditation at a holistic fertility center before the second pregnancy, so I picked that up again and added their yoga class and some reiki to the mix.  All of these things have given me a sense of peace and I am in a much better place than I have been in a while.

As the new year started and we had not gotten pregnant again, I knew it was time to contact my RE’s clinic, I had not even told them that I had gotten pregnant on my own.  I was putting off calling them, because I was feeling like it was admitting defeat.  I would not have a baby with any of my genes.  This was very hard for me to come to terms with and I had been working on it for months.  The first week of January I called to make our appointment to go in and talk about the donor egg process.  It was amazing, this one small step took me from that place of feeling really bad about it to being excited and hopeful again.  The appointment was three weeks away, which felt like an eternity, but I had something to look forward to.  Here we go again!

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The Results

First off, thank you for the advice on the follow-up appointment, it really helped me get primed with some good questions to ask.

Now for the results…most likely bad luck!  Of the 12 mature follicles, we only got 6 eggs, which surprised Dr. D a little, but all 6 eggs were mature and fertilized.  Once fertilized 3 of the 6 stopped growing, they implanted the 4 cell, 5 cell and 6 cell embryos all rated A (ratings A-D with A being the best), ideally they should have been 6-8 cells, but pregnancy can result from a 4 cell embryo.  My E2 level was good (2400 3 days before retrieval and 2000 2 days before – it dropped because they had me stop the Menopur after the 2400 result).  Most surprisingly were C’s little swimmers!  He had been ranging in counts from 6-7 million and the day of retrieval he was at 31 million with great motility, Dr. D said it was an above average sample.  Which led me to think three things, 1) maybe his surgery was successful, it just a long time to get his boys going again, 2) if he is now “cured” maybe we could actually get pregnant on our own! and 3) the lab screwed up and had the wrong sample (in which case it is a relief that it did not work).  We asked if there was anything in my blood work that would have indicated a possible issue, or anything else with me – she said no, I am ideal, I am the type of patient they hope for.  So what the heck happened if I am ideal and C’s sample was above average??  Dr. D said it  must have been either bad luck or abnormal embryos (being 39, at least 50% of my eggs are likely to be abnormal).

These results give me mixed feelings.  I feel good because we didn’t find anything that points to a serious problem that will hurt our chances when trying again, but then I am a little sad and angry that it didn’t work if everything was supposedly so good.  I will count my blessings and we will move forward.

After the appointment we talked about how we felt about everything and our options.  We discussed with Dr. D the fact that if C’s counts stay as good as they were, IUI with injections is a good option for us.  The risk we run there is if his counts fluctuate as much as it seems, and they are low the day of insemination we are screwed (no pun intended).  We discussed the move to a new clinic, which we had already decided to do anyway.  While I am confident that the information Dr. D provided us is accurate and she is a nice person and easy to work with, she does come across as sort of a salesperson (not in a good way).  When asked specific questions, her responses are many times explaining the same thing she just explained with our previous question.  So while she is answering our questions, it is not always with as much detail as we would like, it sometimes feels like a canned response.  I also can’t help but have the results from the CDC website swimming around in my head – <8%, <8%…   That is really low, even for some one pushing 40 like me.  So some time after the start of the new year, we will make an appointment to talk with a different clinic.

This brought us to the discussion of time, and me not wanting 6 months to go by and having done nothing that moves us closer to being pregnant.  But that brings up the money discussion, which is a difficult one.  C feels the pressure being the sole income in the house right now, and I feel like less than nothing because I still have not found a job after being laid off a year ago.  My parents have offered help, my parent’s friends have offered help as they went through their own fertility difficulties, even saying they would hold a fundraiser for us, but C’s pride prevents him from wanting to accept help.  I understand that, our household income is good compared to many, so we shouldn’t need help.  But we also didn’t plan for me to lose my job or to have to spend $30,000 plus to try to get pregnant.  We are working through this issue, and we will make it work, we always do.

On a non IF related front, we got out tree on Friday after our appointment.  Of course it was the coldest day in 8 months!!  But the nursery wasn’t busy and we found our tree quickly!  We got a decent size tree and it wasn’t that expensive, perfect!!  Because I had class yesterday, we haven’t decorated yet.  We carried all of the decorations up from the basement this morning, I am going to start a pot of chili and while it is cooking I will string the lights.  I always do the lights, then we both put the ornaments on.  We will probably put on a cheesy Christmas movie, eat our chili and spend the evening decorating the tree.  Sounds like a perfect evening to me!!

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It snowed here today.  Not anything that stuck around or made it a nuisance to drive, just the soft flakes slowly floating to the ground.  The kind that when you look out the window, you think ‘how pretty’.  Fall is my favorite season, but I do look forward to the first snows of the season.  The dog and I went for a walk while it was coming down a little heavier, her brown fur was speckled with little white dots.  She loves the snow so I was glad we were able to be out in it for a little while.  The cat wanted to follow us outside, but I don’t think he would have appreciated the cold or the damp fur from the snow, besides he is an indoor cat.   (He is snoring away near me right now, sleeping on the back of the couch under the warmth of the lamp.)

While Fall is my favorite season, my truly favorite time of year is Christmas time.  It fills me with so much joy!  I love all the preparations for the holidays, the decorating, shopping for and wrapping gifts, all the baking (and I do A LOT of baking), and getting to spend quality time with my loved ones.   While sitting in the living room at night alone this week (C is in NYC), I decided it is definitely time to decorate!  I need that warm glow of the lights coming off of the tree.  So, I think tomorrow evening C and I will be venturing out to choose our Christmas tree.  We said we were going to get a small one this year, in part to save money and in part to make life a little easier.  We will see when we get to the nursery what happens, I can’t help but want the biggest tree that will fit in the room!  I will try to restrain myself.  I even wrapped some presents today, I actually have most of my shopping done, at least for my side of the family.  We need to work on C’s side, we always have a much harder time coming up with gifts for them.  We are trying to keep the holiday costs down this year and I am doing very well so far!  The IVF came in handy to help out with that.  I earned a lot of reward points on my credit card by using it to pay for the procedure and medication, so I have successfully shopped for my nieces, nephew and grandparents and only spent $15.  If it didn’t result in a baby, at least it was good for something.

Some news on the IF front, we have our follow-up appointment with Dr. D tomorrow morning (finally!).  A few weeks ago when I made the appointment I had all kinds of questions for her, but now after spending the last few weeks focusing on everything except IF, I have forgotten most of them.  I guess I should have written them down.  C and I plan to brainstorm tonight to come up with more than the one I can remember.  If any of you have any suggestions, I would appreciate it!

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Three years ago last month, C and I were married.  I was looking at one of our wedding pictures, it was one of the best days of my life.  The twists and turns our lives take are amazing.  Do you ever end up where you think you will?  I thought I would be married long before the age of 36, but so glad I waited for the right man.  I thought I would have figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up long before the age of 38, but I think I am finally getting that on track.  I always wanted to be a mom of three, now I feel like I will be lucky if I even get one.

I am not giving up on any of my dreams, but it is hard not to get discouraged from time to time.  For the most part I am doing better about the failed IVF, but there are days when it is tough.  Days when I feel very sorry for myself, days when I feel like we will never get to the next IVF, days when I think I will never be pregnant and days when I think maybe I am not meant to be a mom.  One of the things that scares me the most is how quickly time goes by.  From the time we found out IVF was our only option to the time we actually started the cycle was eight months; and before that, from the time we found out C had male fertility issues until he had the surgery that was supposed to help, a lot of time passed.  We get busy, life keeps moving at break-neck speeds, yet we are moving at a snail’s pace on the fertility path.  I am afraid six months will have gone by at the blink of an eye and we will be no closer to starting our next cycle than we are now.  I need to do a better job of staying on top of it so that doesn’t happen.

That leads me to my next topic, obsession!  In going through the cycle I became obsessed with our story and treatment, other’s stories and treatments, it was all IVF all the time!  This is completely understandable and I don’t regret focusing on it that much.  I think it is only natural, a baby is something you desire so greatly and when you have to work so hard to get the baby, of course you are going to give it that much attention.  I talked about it with C all the time; whether it was what was going on with us or relaying information from the blogs I was reading.  But over the last few weeks, I have moved my focus completely away from it.  I actually started this post three (almost four) weeks ago, it had been a particularly low day and I thought it would be good to get those feelings out.  I got stuck writing.  Periodically over the next few days I would come back to the post, but just didn’t have it in me to write.  I also didn’t have it in me to read others blogs, even though their experiences, words and support mean so much to me.  As more days passed, I found myself focusing less and less on the infertility and I started to feel better.  I don’t think I realized how much I needed to step away as much as I did.  I don’t think I gave myself enough time initially to heal and that is a necessary part of the grief.  Of course I still think about the IVF and our next steps, but it was nice to not be giving it 100% of my energy for a while.

So now, I am back and will work hard at finding a balance.  Please forgive my absence in both writing my own and responding to your blogs.  I hope I haven’t lost you, because I know I would not have gotten through this experience thus far without you and know I will value you as we move forward.  Please know that my lack of comments recently on your blogs in no way reflects how I feel about you and how much I still support you and wish you all the best.  Hoping to be welcomed back with open arms.


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