Waves

So, the last few days have been pretty eventful. As many of you already know, the process of IVF is full of ups and downs.

I had my egg retrieval on April 8, it went well – we retrieved 26 eggs, 21 which were mature. We had 19 fertilized with ICSI – which I was very happy about. Unfortunately I also developed early ovarian hyperstimulation  syndrome (OHSS) and had to go on a “shut down”protocol which means I can’t do a fresh transfer this cycle. I knew going into this cycle that this could be a possibility since I had a pretty vigorous response to medications during IUIs but I was still disappointed as this means I won’t be pregnant for probably another 8 weeks minimum. After the retrieval I had a lot of pain/pressure from my swollen ovaries – finally 5 days later this is starting to settle down. I have mostly come to terms with not doing the fresh transfer but I am still a little sad that I would be pregnant right now if we had been able to….Nothing can ever be easy right?!

On day 3 we still had 19 embryos developing. I was very surprised and happy. I made a last minute decision to do pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS) which will involve taking a cell from the trophoectoderm of the blastocyst on Day 5 or 6. This is not technically indicated for my case but even in women less than 35 up to 30-50% embryos are genetically abnormal (less than the full 46 chromosomes). This is a big reason why up to 50% of of transfers do not result in a pregnancy or result in a miscarriage. I hope by doing this we will dramatically improve our chance of a successful frozen embryo transfer

BUT…today I found out only 3 blastocysts have matured enough for biopsy so far (insert expletive). This is much less than I was hoping/expecting so I was definitely disappointed. The only upside is that we still have 11 little embies which are still developing and a few should mature enough for biopsy/freeze tomorrow. The nurse told me they hope another 3-4 will make it. I am anxiously waiting to hear how many little snowflakes.

For now my emotions are fluctuating between fear, hope, frustration and feelings of gratitude. We are getting closer to our goal. I am hoping a little break from this rollercoaster will be a good thing for my mental health. Theme song: Bahamas – Waves

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Anything Could Happen

I thought Elle Goulding’s song was a good theme for this post. It’s true, anything COULD happen.

I am finally here on the precipice of my egg retrieval and I’m not really sure what to think/feel. Right now I’m mainly feeling a lot of bloating and tenderness as my ovaries are almost at their breaking point…The have done their part and grown 18 nice little follicles and now I think they are ready for a rest…I knew it would get pretty uncomfortable but right now every time I pee, cough, twist I get deep twinges of pain, I feel bad for my poor little lady bits, they deserve a medal or something…I really REALLY hope I don’t get OHSS…

Tonight we will stay in a hotel close to the clinic and tomorrow is the procedure – have to be there at 0700 sharp. I can’t say I am not nervous – mostly that somehow my eggs aren’t good enough or that none of them are mature or that none of them fertilize and this whole process has been for naught. When those negative little voices start to chatter I try to shut them up and think positively. I have no reason to be so worried – I think I have just done too much reading and researching and now I am not naive and I know that this might not work the first time. BUT, tomorrow is my mother’s birthday so I’m taking that as a good omen. Hoping to make her lots of beautiful embabies for her birthday.

I have been going to yoga almost every day for the past week and I really think it has been helpful. I have never been very good at meditating but when I am able to let go it really is so nice for my brain. Honestly it is so hard to think of anything else during this process…I have totally failed at not becoming totally engrossed in this – gah.

Here’s hoping this is all worth it. Hoping for lots of cute little eggs tomorrow -go ovaries go, you got this!

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Om Namaha Shivaya

Thy will be done.

This was the mantra of the yoga class I attended today. I am not usually a superstitious at all, more of a “realist” in general but it almost seemed like it was fate that I ended up signing up for this class…. I got an online coupon for a local studio, I am a very novice yogi and have only done it in the gym. Well I have to say I think this is exactly what I needed. It really felt amazing to stretch, relax and try to connect with my inner thoughts, feelings and intentions. The teacher had us repeat this mantra “Om Namaha Shivaya” (can be interpreted as Thy Will Be Done). I was like, wait, what?! It seemed so relevant to me and what I am currently going through. As silly as it sounds I tried to connect with my ovaries/uterus/possible future babies and really direct all my positive energy and excitement into the process. The only negative side effect is that I found myself getting emotional…who cries at yoga? I blame the hormones. I am definitely going to go back, I think it could be just what I need.

In other news I had another glorious ultrasound and bloodwork appointment today. The ovaries seem to be cooperating and about 12 follicles are growing in relative unison. One little guy is threatening to lead the back by a couple mm but they want me to continue on the same protocol/dose for another 2 days and then go in for u/s and b/w on April 5…I suspect our Egg Retrieval will fall on April 7 if all goes as planned.

Wishing you positivity and strength, happy Saturday.

PS – Am I becoming a yogi?!

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The Audacity of Hope

Thanks Obama, love the phrase – although I haven’t read the book, I might have to in order to fill my days during this process.

I am currently on Day 4 of stims and feeling ok besides the terrible sinus infection. I haven’t been sleeping well and finally caved after being sick for 3 weeks and got an Rx for antibiotics. I know it could still be viral but I honestly just need to try SOMETHING because it’s driving me mad.

I have been very busy with work and some family visiting over the weekend so I don’t think I have really had time to process that we are actually doing this. I flip flop between feeling optimistic and resigned. I am not sure if reading other people’s long saga’s with multiple failed cycles is really helping me (read: its not). I just want to read success stories and positive outcomes (if anyone can direct me to stories of rainbows and fairytales and IVF first time success please advise!). I know there are many veteran IF survivors out there and if that becomes me, I will get through it too I’m sure but it would just be SO nice if this actually works.

My brother in law was here for the weekend (he’s currently going through a separation so came solo), we talked a lot about things and he knows everything we’ve been going through. I think sharing it with him has been helpful for both me and DH, its brought us all closer. He said to me “it would be really cool if you guys have a baby”, and I know that’s the expected outcome of all of this but I guess I have been too scared to actually let myself thing about the possibility of a real live actual baby. I mean at times I make mental notes of cool baby gear, think about nurseries, picture a growing belly and the smell of a tiny human but I really haven’t let myself fall too far down this rabbit hole… I think part of me is already trying to come to terms with life without kids, which is sad considering how early we are in this process. I think I am just so scared of believing in this too much and having such a huge let down.

I feel like one of the final 2 contestants on the Bachelor (nice metaphor I know) – this could either lead to the best day of my life OR one of the worst. It’s just such a crazy place to be in. I am going to try to keep occupied but it’s SO hard to focus on anything else. Honestly I am just trying to remain grateful and remember how fortunate I am to have an amazing husband , family, career, good health (usually). I know whatever the outcome we will be ok. I think I will let myself keep hoping. Happy Tuesday everyone.

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Project Make A Baby

So it has begun.

Last night was the official start of my first IVF cycle. In typical fashion it began with a bit of comedic flare, which seems to be the story of my life. I was working a shift in ER and had to slip away mid shift with my package of needles, syringes, sharps containers and thousand dollar Gonal F pen to the staff bathroom. As I was mid procedure with a needle in my belly (feeling a bit like a closet drug user) one of my male colleagues came into our shared change room (of which I was in the bathroom). Unfortunately his clothes were in the bathroom so I had to quickly clean up and finish and hope that I managed to give myself the right dosage before packing up my little bag.  Hopefully he just assumed I was taking care of lady problems.

So, now we wait. I hope that my body cooperates. I hope that the schedule goes according to plan. I hope that we make lots of lovely embryos and I hope this is the answer for us. I just don’t want to hope too much because I know that there may be bumps along the way and we may not be the “lucky ones” who are fortunate enough to have beginners luck. It would be very nice to just have this go our way this time. Somehow I am feeling cautiously optimistic although trying not to reach the point of actual excitement. For now, I will try to enjoy the ride and this feeling of hope.

 

Top 5 Things Not to Say to an Infertile Friend

So, I have always wanted to make my own TOP 5 LIST.

First, can we talk about the label of being “infertile”. It’s just so final and negative. I sort of refuse to identify with it. Hence forward I will refer to myself as fertility challenged or perhaps sub-fertile if I am feeling very fancy.

Anyway, here goes!

  1. Are you sure you’re doing it right? You’re kidding me right? No, there is no evidence that doing a handstand for 30 mins after you baby dance helps you conceive. I don’t care what your aunt told you. Yes, I am sure I know a whole lot more about how to do it right than most people. Let’s just leave it at that.
  2. If you just relax, it will happen when its meant to happen. Ok, I know people are trying to be helpful but as most of us know telling someone to RELAX usually has the exact opposite effect. I used to be relaxed about 30 or so cycle ago, now I’m getting a little edgy ok? Maybe what we actually need is science now but thanks.
  3. I can be your surrogate! My lovely sister in law, who is a bit oblivious and very clueless about our TTC issues, actually said this to me when I told her we were going to have to go through fertility treatments. Really, that is not helpful and highly unlikely to help our situation – I know she wasn’t meaning to be hurtful but I was just pretty shocked by the comment. She’s never even been pregnant – so like, thanks but really no thanks.
  4. My cousin’s sister’s best friend got pregnant after they were told they could never conceive. Well, first of all I feel like almost no one these days is told flat out that they can never conceive unless they lack the necessary anatomy or are completely lack sperm. I know that these stories are meant to be comforting but I don’t really feel very comforted by stories of women that took 12 years to conceive and were in their 40s before if finally happened. I am sorry, but I just don’t find that reassuring!
  5. You guys aren’t getting any younger – you shouldn’t wait too long. So many people continue to ask me if/when we are having kids and then go on to point our that “even over 30 is pushing it”….I usually just try to brush this off but it’s usually coming from men or people that are completely oblivious. And I know my eggs aren’t getting any younger. Thank you for that. Sometimes I just want to tell them we can’t to shut them up….maybe I will try that next time!

I am sure other people have many more good ones. That’s all I can think of for now.

Infertility Diaries

Well,

Sorry to anyone who is reading this – this is the background to this shitty story of how I got here and it might be a little long. I hope by blogging I will be able to process the ups and downs that come with this rollercoaster ride.

So – here goes. We are over 2 years (maybe closer to 3..gross) into this “journey” (that word feels super cheesy to me). Honestly like many women I never anticipated I would be here. Growing up my mother always told me she and my father conceived on their first try (again, a little gross but also super comforting) – both times. So, at the age of 29 (younger than my mom was) when I stopped the pill I really thought a few months later I would likely be expecting without too much effort.

Well, newsflash – it didn’t happen. At first I chalked it up to stress, timing, etc (which was fair) – my hubby (or “DH” as I have learned from reading lots of forum posts) and I were not living together and realistically we weren’t really “actively” trying for the first several months. I started to take things a bit more seriously probably 8 months into the process. Tracking my ovulation and trying to plan intercourse around this.  For those of you who have not tried it, “timed intercourse” is probably one of the least sexy things ever. Not so great for the sex life, you’re having a ton of it but all of sudden it loses a lot of its allure! AND it didn’t work for us. Enter a little bit of panic…

A year into things I decided it was time to look into the next step. For years my DH knew he had a varicocele so I had a inkling that there may be an issue with fertilization or sperm qaulity. I went through a battery of tests – hormone levels, ultrasounds, a hysterosonogram  and AMH level – they all came back normal. My husband had his semen analysis (much to his dismay, I guess forced ejaculation isn’t really that fun) – the first lab report read “abnormal morphology (less than 1% normal) unlikely to result in fertilization” with the counts right on the edge being on the low side. We were pretty heartbroken to read that.

After meeting with our local Ob-Gyn with an interest fertility he seemed optimistic about things. He felt that we should go ahead and start intra-uterine insemination (aka IUI – not as fun as it sounds, I know it doesn’t sound that fun). He wasn’t too concerned about my DH’s abnormal semen analysis, he felt we had a reasonable chance with IUI (about 20% after 3 attempts). I felt fairly optimistic (of course we would be that 20%) so when we had things in place and I was able to re-arrange my work schedule we did our first one last April.

It turned out to be a bit of gong show – I had to go in for early morning ultrasounds and bloodwork 6 times – each time lasts about 2 hours. For those not familiar, these ultrasounds are extra special because they involve a long probe inserted right up in your lady garden. This gets less and less fun as you get closer to ovulation because your ovaries swell and become quite tender. I was using an injectable medications (Gonal F – an FSH analogue) for “controlled ovarian stimulation” to push my body to make more than one possible follicle for fertilization. This whole process also happened to fall during a weekend when our entire family was visiting so not the best timing wise. I got 3 good sized follicles, but the sperm counts were low and… it didn’t work. Even though I knew that the odds of success were probably closer to maybe 8-10% of success, especially with male factor, it was still a pretty tough loss. I think whenever you invest that much time, effort and money it definitely makes it hard to swallow.

After picking myself up and trying to dust myself off and regain the initial optimism and positive attitude I went back in for an ultrasound to see if we could try again. Unfortunately my body was still not ready, I had a few left over cysts that were producing estrogen – this meant I couldn’t start a cycle. Oh, but I got to go on the pill for 2 months (makes a lot sense when you’re trying to become pregnant, eh?). After 3 months the little cyst guy was still hanging around.

We took a little break – which was a good thing for me. I couldn’t really believe the emotional toll this process was already having and we were still early on. Part of me wondered how much I even wanted to keep going and how much did I really want a baby…deep down if I am honest with myself I know that I really want to be a mom. So, onward and upward – or whatever. In October we did another IUI – this time I had 4 follicles (eep – risk of quads!?), again – BIG FAT NEGATIVE (BFN). And again, cysts delaying the next cycle.

After the second failed IUI I arranged to meet a “Reproductive Endocrinologist” (RE) who comes to our town from Toronto. He also agreed that we should do 3 IUIs but thought that we would be very good candidates for IVF with ICSI (can get around any problems with morphology/acrosome which may affect fertilization rates). After such long breaks between my previous cycles and the relatively low likelihood of success we decided to take the plunge and pull out the big guns.

Now, here we are – getting very close to our first IVF cycle. It still feels a little surreal. Such a mix of emotions – excitement, fear, hope, ambivalence, frustration, impatience. So many FEELs. I am currently on birth control and waiting to find out when we can finally begin this process. I am so hoping this works but I am not naive and I know that it doesn’t always happen or sometimes it takes more than one try. I am hoping that one day we can say this was all worth it.