Thursday, May 21, 2015

Next Steps

Although SDFC told us we could jump right into prepping for our transfer, Ryan and I have decided to wait.  I was still feeling the effects of the stims and my period after and IVF is very long and very unpleasant.  We just felt like it would be a better idea to let my body get back to normal before starting to prime for the FET.  For the last few years we have mainly focused on egg and sperm quality.  Now we are switching our focus to implementation.

Between now and our transfer, here is what we are working on;

  • The first thing I did was take milk thistle to help push all the drugs out of my system.  My ER was two weeks ago and I am just now feeling back to normal.
  • Yoga!!!  I am so excited to be back taking yoga.  I missed it so much.   I go 4-5 times a week faithfully but during my last cycle I put my membership on hold.  I do aerial yoga and I just couldn't do it with a headache and with my stomach.  Now I'm back and loving it.  
  • I am going back to see the naturopathic doctor for some new testing and some retesting.  Before I was focusing on egg quality and overall health.  Now I am going to do the miscarriage panel just to make sure I'm not overlooking anything.
  • I'm going back to my strict diet.  During my stims I really just stuck with eating gluten free and vegetarian.  Now that I'm feeling better I am back to gluten free, grain free, low sugar and of course vegetarian.

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Final Embryo Report part 2

WE GOT 1 MORE NORMAL!!!!!!! - Couldn't wait until the end of the blog to share :)  Here are the details.

 Waiting by the phone never gets any easier.  These calls never get easier.  The sleepless nights never go away.  I waited all day yesterday for the call from the embryologist to call with the final report on our last 2 blasts.  I got a call around 3:30pm saying the results weren't in yet.  Hopefully they would come in the next day but Monday at the latest.

I finally fell asleep around 3am and woke up around 5am.  I woke up with a racing heart as if I drank 10 shots of espresso.  The results of today's call is just so huge.  Anymore normals and we significantly increase our chance of becoming parents at least once.  If the final 2 are abnormal, then we have officially closed a chapter in our books and our potential child will never have the chance of a sibling.  

The phone rang and I swear she was talking in slow motion. She finally revealed that we have 1 more normal to add to the one already waiting on ice for us.  I asked that she not reveal the sex because I wanted my husband and I to be together when we find out.  We have a follow up on June 1st to discuss next steps and at that appointment we will get the official report which will reveal the sex of both embryos.  

Here are our results of all our embryos:

1 - IVF bank cycle #1, biopsy date 3/16 - CHROMOSOMALLY NORMAL

2 - IVF bank cycle #1, biopsy date 3/17 - ANEUPLOIDY  (discarded)
3 - IVF bank cycle #2, biopsy date 5/11 - ANEUPLOIDY  (discarded)
4 - IVF bank cycle #2, biopsy date 5/12 - ANEUPLOIDY  (discarded)
5 - IVF bank cycle #2, biopsy date 5/12 - CHROMOSOMALLY NORMAL

After she revealed that we had 1 normal, she discussed that we had another aneuploidy and that she needed my permission to discard it.  I told her she was breaking my heart but that I understood.   Between having another discussion about having to discard another unusable embryo that I had worked so hard to create, and the ecstatic news of hearing that we had two normals, as soon as I hung up the phone, I burst into tears.  I called Ryan to tell him the good news, but I couldn't talk at first.  Infertility is just such an emotional rollercoaster.  I finally got the good news out and I could hear his excitement on the other end of the phone.

Part of the reason why this news is so emotional is because NONE of the doctors that we have meet with thought we would get here.  After our first 3 failed IVFs, we were told to move on to either donor or adoption.  Ryan and I were not ready to move on from the idea of have genetically related children.  So we decided to press on.  The doctor we are working with now gave us less than 7% chance on having a child.  And he was one of the more generous ones.  Basically, once you have 3 failed IVFs you become a lost cause in the infertility world of statistics.  He suggested that we do 3 banking cycle to get between 5 - 8 Day 5 blasts.  Statistically if we had at least 6 embryos, our PGS would come back with only 1 normal.  So now looking at having 2 normals with only 5 chances, you can see why this was such great news.

The next steps are preparing for the FET.  I have a regroup with my doctor on June 1.  Then we will come up with a strategy.  So far I know I am going to do the uterine scratching and intralipids.   I'll talk about those in a later post.  

Nothing is guaranteed and just because we have a normal embryo transfer, does not mean it will implant even, let alone grow into a child.  However we just significantly increased the odds of that happening. I am over the moon.  This is really the first good news we have heard in a very long time.  

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Final Embryo Report - Day 6

So going into today, we had 1 blast, 4 potential blasts and lost everything else.  Of the 4 potential blast 2 did in fact make it to full blast form however they both were not graded that high, but good enough to biopsy and freeze.  So the final total from this cycle was 1 Day 5 blast and 2 Day 6 blasts.

This was our second cycle in a back to back banking cycle.  Our first cycle in March ended with 1 Day 5 blast and 1 Day 6 blast.  So we had 5 total embryos from both cycles.

The cells from the biopsy have been sent to Los Angeles for  PGS testing.  PGS testing test the chromosomes in the embryos and looks for abnormalities that wouldn't support life.  If you would like to learn more specifics about PGS and PGD,  click here.

A few of our cells slides have been tested already and we received our first report today.   Here are our results so far:

1 - IVF bank cycle #1, biopsy date 3/16 - CHROMOSOMALLY NORMAL
2 - IVF bank cycle #1, biopsy date 3/17 - ANEUPLOIDY  (discarded)
3 - IVF bank cycle #2, biopsy date 5/11 - ANEUPLOIDY  (discarded)
4 - IVF bank cycle #2, biopsy date 5/12 - ??????
5 - IVF bank cycle #2, biopsy date 5/12 - ??????

We should have the results tomorrow or Thursday at the latest for the last two.  Fingers crossed.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, May 11, 2015

Embryo Report - Day 5

Today's the big day, the Day 5 report.  Today is  the day that all this hard work, the tears, the elimination diet, the stress, the supplements, the doctor appointments, the blood draws, the 100+ vials of medication given by my husband in 13 days and the anxiety have all been for.  The ultimate goal is getting as many embryos as you can get to make it to Day 5 blasts.  Blasts (Blastocyst) are basically when the embryo takes on the shape of what will hopefully the future baby.  There is an inner portion which will form the embryo and grow to become the baby and an outer section that forms the placenta.  The Morula stage has about 16 cells, the blast stage has 200-300 cells so a lot has to happen  to get here.  If the embryos makes it to this stage today, they will be biopsied and frozen.  If they are slower than they should be, they get 1 more day and 1 last chance to catch up and will be kept in culture and looked at tomorrow.

Because of the gravity of the situation, I achieved about 2 hours of sleep last night and Ryan got about 4.  Even Parker couldn't sleep, she picks up on our anxiety I think.   So I waited all day for the results.  The phone rang around 4pm.

We have:
1 blast (Good quality) - this is the only embryo that is right on track and exactly where it should be
4 early blasts (fair to good quality) - these are much farther behind where they should be
2 poor quality - discarded
5 officially not growing anymore - discarded


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Embryo Report - Day 4

Flowers from my Mom from her garden.  They smell amazing!
Today's embryos should be compacting and forming Morulae. Cells at the Morula stage are not as distinct in shape so they do not get graded, but the rest that are still dividing and haven't quite made it to the Morulae stage yet still get the same grade scale of good, fair and poor.

Here is our report:

Morula-stage embryo
3 - complete Morulae
2 - 8 cell (graded good)
2 - 8 cell (graded fair)
1 - 7 cell (graded fair)
3 - 6 cell (graded fair)
1 - 4 cell (graded fair)
2 - 1 cells discarded today

The 3 that have completed the Morulae stage are right on track and have a very good chance of making it to tomorrow.  Our embryologist said that the 8 cells and the 7 cells are still growing so we need to check tomorrow to see if they have started to compact.  If they do, then they will be considered viable as well.   The 6 cells and the 4 cells have pretty much slowed down.  They are still technically growing, but there isn't very much hope for them to survive the night.  So now we are down to 8 viable embryos.  I had to end the call with the conversation of destroying the two 1 cell embryos so those are no longer with us.

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, May 9, 2015

How to Treat Someone with Infertility

This article has been taken from the RESOLVE website.  I am posting this because tomorrow is the hardest day of the year for myself and all my friends that are struggling with infertility.  While I still want to celebrate my own Mother and all she has done for me, it is very hard to see all the Mother's Day cards and commercials and emails that are all around us. I will not be logging on the email, FB or even using my phone tomorrow.  Luckily my Mother is very understanding and does what she can to make the holiday less painful.  Last year, we celebrated the weekend before and this Mother's Day we are staying inside and having a brunch at her house.  I really appreciate the effort that my family gives to help me make it through the day and love them very much for it.  
Not only do I have an awesome family that is so wonderful, I also have great friends.  I met a friend for lunch today who gave me these beautiful flowers to celebrate getting through my final round of IVF stim drugs.  She also paid for my lunch.  I really needed that today and it was a very nice surprise.  

This is for those that know someone struggling with infertility and don't know how to handle it.  Love to all the people out there and good luck getting through the next 24 hours.

Infertility Etiquette

Chances are, you know someone who is struggling with infertility. More than seven million people of childbearing age in the United States experience infertility. Yet, as a society, we are woefully uninformed about how to best provide emotional support for our loved ones during this painful time.
Infertility is, indeed, a very painful struggle. The pain is similar to the grief over losing a loved one, but it is unique because it is a recurring grief. Infertile people grieve the loss of the baby that they may never know. They grieve the loss of that baby who would have had mommy's nose and daddy's eyes. But, each month, there is the hope that maybe that baby will be conceived after all. No matter how hard they try to prepare themselves for bad news, they still hope that this month will be different. Then, the bad news comes again, and the grief washes over the infertile couple anew. This process happens month after month, year after year. It is like having a deep cut that keeps getting opened right when it starts to heal.
As the couple moves into infertility treatments, the pain increases while the bank account depletes. The tests are invasive and embarrassing to both parties, and you feel like the doctor has taken over your bedroom. And for all of this discomfort, you pay a lot of money.
A couple will eventually resolve the infertility problem in one of three ways:
  • They will eventually conceive a baby.
  • They will stop the infertility treatments and choose to live without children.
  • They will find an alternative way to parent, such as by adopting a child or becoming a foster parent.
Reaching a resolution can take years, so your infertile loved ones need your emotional support during this journey. Most people don't know what to say, so they wind up saying the wrong thing, which only makes the journey so much harder for their loved ones. Knowing what not to say is half of the battle to providing support.

Don't Tell Them to Relax

Everyone knows someone who had trouble conceiving but then finally became pregnant once she "relaxed." Couples who are able to conceive after a few months of "relaxing" are not infertile. By definition, a couple is not diagnosed as "infertile" until they have tried unsuccessfully to become pregnant for a full year. In fact, most infertility specialists will not treat a couple for infertility until they have tried to become pregnant for a year. This year weeds out the people who aren't infertile but just need to "relax." Those that remain are truly infertile.
Comments such as "just relax" or "try going on a cruise" create even more stress for the infertile couple, particularly the woman. The woman feels like she is doing something wrong when, in fact, there is a good chance that there is a physical problem preventing her from becoming pregnant.
These comments can also reach the point of absurdity. As a couple, my husband and I underwent two surgeries, numerous inseminations, hormone treatments, and four years of poking and prodding by doctors. Yet, people still continued to say things like, "If you just relaxed on a cruise . . ." Infertility is a diagnosable medical problem that must be treated by a doctor, and even with treatment, many couples will NEVER successfully conceive a child. Relaxation itself does not cure medical infertility.

Don't Minimize the Problem

Failure to conceive a baby is a very painful journey. Infertile couples are surrounded by families with children. These couples watch their friends give birth to two or three children, and they watch those children grow while the couple goes home to the silence of an empty house. These couples see all of the joy that a child brings into someone's life, and they feel the emptiness of not being able to experience the same joy.
Comments like, "Just enjoy being able to sleep late . . . .travel . . etc.," do not offer comfort. Instead, these comments make infertile people feel like you are minimizing their pain. You wouldn't tell somebody whose parent just died to be thankful that he no longer has to buy Father's Day or Mother's Day cards. Losing that one obligation doesn't even begin to compensate for the incredible loss of losing a parent. In the same vein, being able to sleep late or travel does not provide comfort to somebody who desperately wants a child.

Don't Say There Are Worse Things That Could Happen

Along the same lines, don't tell your friend that there are worse things that she could be going through. Who is the final authority on what is the "worst" thing that could happen to someone? Is it going through a divorce? Watching a loved one die? Getting raped? Losing a job?
Different people react to different life experiences in different ways. To someone who has trained his whole life for the Olympics, the "worst" thing might be experiencing an injury the week before the event. To someone who has walked away from her career to become a stay-at-home wife for 40 years, watching her husband leave her for a younger woman might be the "worst" thing. And, to a woman whose sole goal in life has been to love and nurture a child, infertility may indeed be the "worst" thing that could happen.
People wouldn't dream of telling someone whose parent just died, "It could be worse: both of your parents could be dead." Such a comment would be considered cruel rather than comforting. In the same vein, don't tell your friend that she could be going through worse things than infertility.

Don't Say They Aren't Meant to Be Parents

One of the cruelest things anyone ever said to me is, "Maybe God doesn't intend for you to be a mother." How incredibly insensitive to imply that I would be such a bad mother that God felt the need to divinely sterilize me. If God were in the business of divinely sterilizing women, don't you think he would prevent the pregnancies that end in abortions? Or wouldn't he sterilize the women who wind up neglecting and abusing their children? Even if you aren't religious, the "maybe it's not meant to be" comments are not comforting. Infertility is a medical condition, not a punishment from God or Mother Nature.

Don't Ask Why They Aren't Trying IVF

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a method in which the woman harvests multiple eggs, which are then combined with the man's sperm in a petri dish. This is a method that can produce multiple births. People frequently ask, "Why don't you just try IVF?" in the same casual tone they would use to ask, "Why don't you try shopping at another store?"

Don't Be Crude

It is appalling that I even have to include this paragraph, but some of you need to hear this-Don't make crude jokes about your friend's vulnerable position. Crude comments like "I'll donate the sperm" or "Make sure the doctor uses your sperm for the insemination" are not funny, and they only irritate your friends.

Don't Complain About Your Pregnancy

This message is for pregnant women-Just being around you is painful for your infertile friends. Seeing your belly grow is a constant reminder of what your infertile friend cannot have. Unless an infertile women plans to spend her life in a cave, she has to find a way to interact with pregnant women. However, there are things you can do as her friend to make it easier.
The number one rule is DON'T COMPLAIN ABOUT YOUR PREGNANCY. I understand from my friends that, when you are pregnant, your hormones are going crazy and you experience a lot of discomfort, such as queasiness, stretch marks, and fatigue. You have every right to vent about the discomforts to any one else in your life, but don't put your infertile friend in the position of comforting you.
Your infertile friend would give anything to experience the discomforts you are enduring because those discomforts come from a baby growing inside of you. When I heard a pregnant woman complain about morning sickness, I would think, "I'd gladly throw up for nine straight months if it meant I could have a baby." When a pregnant woman would complain about her weight gain, I would think, "I would cut off my arm if I could be in your shoes."
I managed to go to baby showers and hospitals to welcome my friends' new babies, but it was hard. Without exception, it was hard. Stay sensitive to your infertile friend's emotions, and give her the leeway that she needs to be happy for you while she cries for herself. If she can't bring herself to hold your new baby, give her time. She isn't rejecting you or your new baby; she is just trying to work her way through her pain to show sincere joy for you. The fact that she is willing to endure such pain in order to celebrate your new baby with you speaks volumes about how much your friendship means to her.

Don't Treat Them Like They Are Ignorant

For some reason, some people seem to think that infertility causes a person to become unrealistic about the responsibilities of parenthood. I don't follow the logic, but several people told me that I wouldn't ache for a baby so much if I appreciated how much responsibility was involved in parenting.
Let's face it-no one can fully appreciate the responsibilities involved in parenting until they are, themselves, parents. That is true whether you successfully conceived after one month or after 10 years. The length of time you spend waiting for that baby does not factor in to your appreciation of responsibility. If anything, people who have been trying to become pregnant longer have had more time to think about those responsibilities. They have also probably been around lots of babies as their friends started their families.
Perhaps part of what fuels this perception is that infertile couples have a longer time to "dream" about what being a parent will be like. Like every other couple, we have our fantasies-my child will sleep through the night, would never have a tantrum in public, and will always eat his vegetables. Let us have our fantasies. Those fantasies are some of the few parent-to-be perks that we have-let us have them. You can give us your knowing looks when we discover the truth later.

Don't Gossip About Your Friend's Condition

Infertility treatments are very private and embarrassing, which is why many couples choose to undergo these treatments in secret. Men especially are very sensitive to letting people know about infertility testing, such as sperm counts. Gossiping about infertility is not usually done in a malicious manner. The gossipers are usually well-meaning people who are only trying to find out more about infertility so they can help their loved ones.
Regardless of why you are sharing this information with someone else, it hurts and embarrasses your friend to find out that Madge the bank teller knows what your husband's sperm count is and when your next period is expected. Infertility is something that should be kept as private as your friend wants to keep it. Respect your friend's privacy, and don't share any information that your friend hasn't authorized.

Don't Push Adoption (Yet)

Adoption is a wonderful way for infertile people to become parents. (As an adoptive parent, I can fully vouch for this!!) However, the couple needs to work through many issues before they will be ready to make an adoption decision. Before they can make the decision to love a "stranger's baby," they must first grieve the loss of that baby with Daddy's eyes and Mommy's nose. Adoption social workers recognize the importance of the grieving process. When my husband and I went for our initial adoption interview, we expected the first question to be, "Why do you want to adopt a baby?" Instead, the question was, "Have you grieved the loss of your biological child yet?" Our social worker emphasized how important it is to shut one door before you open another.
You do, indeed, need to grieve this loss before you are ready to start the adoption process. The adoption process is very long and expensive, and it is not an easy road. So, the couple needs to be very sure that they can let go of the hope of a biological child and that they can love an adopted baby. This takes time, and some couples are never able to reach this point. If your friend cannot love a baby that isn't her "own," then adoption isn't the right decision for her, and it is certainly not what is best for the baby.
Mentioning adoption in passing can be a comfort to some couples. (The only words that ever offered me comfort were from my sister, who said, "Whether through pregnancy or adoption, you will be a mother one day.") However, "pushing" the issue can frustrate your friend. So, mention the idea in passing if it seems appropriate, and then drop it. When your friend is ready to talk about adoption, she will raise the issue herself.
So, what can you say to your infertile friends? Unless you say "I am giving you this baby," there is nothing you can say that will erase their pain. So, take that pressure off of yourself. It isn't your job to erase their pain, but there is a lot you can do to lessen the load. Here are a few ideas.

Let Them Know That You Care

The best thing you can do is let your infertile friends know that you care. Send them cards. Let them cry on your shoulder. If they are religious, let them know you are praying for them. Offer the same support you would offer a friend who has lost a loved one. Just knowing they can count on you to be there for them lightens the load and lets them know that they aren't going through this alone.

Remember Them on Mother's Day

With all of the activity on Mother's Day, people tend to forget about women who cannot become mothers. Mother's Day is an incredibly painful time for infertile women. You cannot get away from it-There are ads on the TV, posters at the stores, church sermons devoted to celebrating motherhood, and all of the plans for celebrating with your own mother and mother-in-law.
Mother's Day is an important celebration and one that I relish now that I am a mother. However, it was very painful while I was waiting for my baby. Remember your infertile friends on Mother's Day, and send them a card to let them know you are thinking of them. They will appreciate knowing that you haven't "forgotten" them.

Support Their Decision to Stop Treatments

No couple can endure infertility treatments forever. At some point, they will stop. This is an agonizing decision to make, and it involves even more grief. Even if the couple chooses to adopt a baby, they must still first grieve the loss of that baby who would have had mommy's nose and daddy's eyes.

Once the couple has made the decision to stop treatments, support their decision. Don't encourage them to try again, and don't discourage them from adopting, if that is their choice. Once the couple has reached resolution (whether to live without children, adopt a child, or become foster parents), they can finally put that chapter of their lives behind them. Don't try to open that chapter again.

Thanks for reading,

Embryo Report - Day 3

Day 3 Embryo Report

Today we are looking for embryos to continue to grow and divide.  They are also graded more strictly today.  They grade based on symmetry of the cells and by coloring and pigment. They only have 3 grades, Good, fair and poor.  Basically they have to be perfect to get good and unusable to get poor so almost all of them are graded fair.  Ideally, embryos should be between 4 - 8 cells.

8 cell embryo
Here is our report:

4 - 8 cells (2 are good, 2 are fair)
3 - 6 cells (All are fair)
4 - 5 cells (All are fair)
1 - 4 cell (Graded good)
2 - 1 cell (These are the same as yesterday, still not dividing.  If the don't divide by tomorrow they will be discarded)

The good news...
We have GOOD embryos!  That is awesome.  We didn't have any last time so we are very pleased with this news.  We also didn't lose any between yesterday and today which is also good news.

The tough news to swallow...
The moment the embryologist talks about discarding our embryos it's like a stab to the heart.  It is such a difficult conversation to have.  They need our permission to do so which is why they bring it up.  It is just so hard to give up on them.  Logically I understand, but emotionally I feel like I just worked so hard for those little guys and as soon as they say they need to be discarded I picture someone just tossing them away in a trashcan.  I just wish they could serve some purpose like research perhaps, just being trashed it so difficult to hear.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, May 8, 2015

Embryo Report - Day 2

Today our embryos are considered Day 2 embryos. They are expected to be dividing and starting to grow at this point.  They are usually between 2 and 4 cells today.  They start to look at the shape of the embryos and start to grade them as fair or below average.  They also look to see if any fragmentation has started on any of the embryos.
4 cell embryo

Here was our report card:

1 at 6 cells
3 at 5 cells
4 at 4 cells
1 at 3 cells
3 at 2 cells
2 at 1 cell (not growing)
All are at fair quality with minimal to no fragmentation.  So we lost 2 overnight and we have a total of 12 still viable embryos.

My total weight gain after the surgery was a whopping 11 lbs.  I literally woke up feeling much lighter today.  I weighed myself and confirmed that I was lighter, 6 lbs lighter.  Only 5 more lbs to go.  My stomach has gone down a lot and I feel almost back to normal.  I also went and got a B12 shot today so my energy level is great.  Lastly I was able to get my hair done and that always puts me in a good mood and makes me very happy.  I bet by tomorrow I will physically feel normal again.

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Embryo Report - Day 1

I am still recovering from the effects of the surgery.  My stomach is still very bloated and I'm still a bit sore.  Overall I am feeling how I should be feeling at this point in time.  I have Tylenol and Tylenol with codeine and that is managing my pain.  I also have a heating pad to help with the sore stomach.

Over the next 6 days I will be getting daily updates from the lab about how my embryos are doing.  We started off with 18 oocytes and we used ICSI on all of them.  Today's embryos check is looking to see how many eggs were successfully fertilized.  At this point the embryos are at the 1-cell stage.  Here is today's results:

18 follicles were retrieved
17 contained a mature egg
14 have fertilized and are embryos now

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Egg Retrieval

Last night we started off by attending a lecture at UCSD about infertility.  We met a few fellow couples from the support group there.  It  was nice to see friendly supportive faces on the night before the ER.  I loaded up on hugs and learned a few new things.  It is amazing to me how quickly protocols change in the infertility world.  An example in our case, our very first IVF was in Nov 2013.  It was a fresh transfer with no genetic testing with two embryos.  Now at the same clinic, they do 80+% frozen transfers and 60+% genetic testing.  Every 2 years it seems like they are learning new things and getting more data to make the changes.  I also learned that one of the universally horrible tests you have to do for your work up is something called an hsg test.  It is done in a hospital and it is very painful.  Not only that, but they use x-rays to look at your tubes which is harmful.  Now they have moved on to a bubble test which is PAIN FREE and done with a sonogram at a doctors office.  AMAZING!

After the lecture we went and got ice cream for the simple reason, because I felt like it :)  A scoop of nutty coconut and I was a happy camper. After ice cream, I cut up the watermelon and ate as much as I could.  I also lit a candle with a baby on it that my grandmother gave me for good luck.  I tried really hard to get some sleep, but I could not relax enough.  My mind was racing with anxiety.

In the morning I woke up and took my final shower with the antibacterial soap.  On a side note, I have nerve damage in my leg and had a neurostimulator implanted back in 2011.  I have to turn that off before any surgery. This always make me so nervous because I forgot about 4 surgeries ago and Ryan had to run home to get my remote before the could start.  I remebered and turned it off and started to feel less anxious.  When I got dressed, I had a silly thought.  I have worn really ugly sweats and IVF pajamas to all my other IVF cycle. My embabies probably think I'm a super dork.  This time I rocked out in one of my favorite band t shirts.  This way they know their Mom is cool and not afraid to go home with us someday.  Ridiculous I know, but we latch on to anything we can to try and help the situation and think positively.  I was such a ball of hyper energy that I decided to go for a walk while Ryan finished getting ready.  When it was time to go, he found me and off we went to the clinic.

We checked in, turned in all our used needles in a sharps container (bye you jerks, never do I want to see you again) and prepared for the ER.  They have a massage chair for when you first check in and that really did help to relax.  Its not as great as the bair paw gowns that RPMG has, but I'll take whatever I can get.  Ryan had to sign a few forms stating that he will be a responsible adult and take care of me over the next 24 hours.  Its nice to see a contract demanding that your husband take care of you.  The nurse and I joked that it includes unlimited foot rubs. Then I had to kiss Ryan goodbye and head into the OR.  I am very happy to report that the watermelon again did the trick and they got my IV going on the very first try.  This is monumental news because this hardly ever happens.

After the ER is over, they tell Ryan all my numbers and then when I wake up he tells me how well we did.  As soon I open my eyes, he comes back and keep me company in the recovery room. I have to take in an IV bag of fluids and then I can go home.  We checked in around 8:15 and we were back home by 11am.

The results of the ER was very promising.  They were able to retrieve 18 follicles.  This is the most we have ever had.  Before this, the most we have had is 15 and the lowest was 7.  Ryan also had great numbers today.  His results were also higher than we have ever had.  I guess all those supplements finally paid off.  However, there is no reason to jump up and down and celebrate yet.  Now we need to hope and pray that they do well and continue to grow in the lab.  We need them to make it to day 5 blasts in order to biopsy them for genetic testing and freeze them for a future FET.  No one gets 100% to make it to day 5 blasts, but we need to hope that we can get as many as possible.  To put this in perspective we have had 3 as the most that have made in and 2 as the least.  We have 2 frozen and banked now.  Statistically I need 6 to get one normal back from the PGS test.  The reason we need 6 is because our odds are less than great since I have had 3 failed FETs so far.  After 3 you automatically drop to a really bad category of basically hopeless cases.  So that means ideally we would need 4 day 5 blasts.  Fingers and toes are crossed, prayers are being sent and all our energy is focused on trying to stay positive and hopeful for our embabies to continue to grow.  I am doing pretty well.  I have serious bloating still and some cramping but that is very normal and to be expected.

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Cycle Day 14

Today's symptoms: headache is gone finally, huge gross bloated stomach is even bigger, tired due to lack of sleep, emotional and weight gain has lowered to +7lbs.

Today is the day before the ER and I feel like it is the calm before the anxiety storm.  At this point I have done so much but starting tomorrow it will be all out of my hands.  I will be glued by the phone waiting for daily updates.  It will last 6 - 7 until we get our final numbers.

Yesterday my E was 2900.  This means by the time of my ER I will again be 4000+.  That makes the day of and day after critical to how quickly I recover from all this.  Here is my prep for the ER.


  • Remove nail polish.
  • Take a shower tonight.  Wash hair and dry natural, no products (not the best look for me).
  • Wash whole body and face with antibacterial soap, no lotions or products afterwards.
  • Eats lots and lots of watermelon from 10pm - 11pm.
  • Take a stool softener.
  • No eating or drinking after midnight.


  • Take a shower and wash with antibacterial soap.
  • Check in for ER at 8:30am.
  • Take my antibiotic.
  • Procedure starts at 9:30am.
  • Eat salty food.
  • Drink coconut water.
  • If I need it I have tylenol with codeine.  I didn't take anything last time because I knew I was going to be doing back to back cycles and I didn't want anything to delay the process.  This time I have a month or two before the transfer so it is ok to take something if needed.
Kite ceiling tile from the exam room
At our last check we still had 16 follicles.  The picture to the right is the ceiling tile in the exam room.  We are keeping our fingers crossed that they can retrieve all 16 and that each has an egg.  It is not uncommon for the doctor to not get all the follicles, but usually you get 90% or more of your count going in.  It is also not uncommon to not have an egg in each follicle.  I'll post updates as soon as I can,  Thanks for all the love and support during our stims.  

Thanks for reading,

Monday, May 4, 2015

Cycle Day 13

Today's symptoms: headache again,huge gross bloated stomach, tired, emotional and weight gain has moved to +8lbs.

With my nurse Kristen

We had an 8am appointment this morning for another US/BW check.  I still have 16 follicles in the running which is very exciting. The most we have ever had before is 15.  The smallest was 13mm and the largest was 23mm.  Still waiting on the final E numbers.  No matter what they are though, we got the go ahead to trigger tonight for an ER sometime Wednesday morning.  

Kristen (left) is one of two nurses that I see at all my appointments.  She walked in when we were taking our daily blog pick and I asked her to jump in.  She has been so great and so supportive.  It really is nice to have a sweet and caring nurse that I trust.

When it occurred to me that this morning was my last stim shot ever, I wept.  This was my 7th time using injectable meds (3 IUIs and 4 IVFs.  No matter what happens next, there won't be stims involved.  If our embryos come back normal, then we move to FET and the only shot for that is PIO.  If we don't get any normals back we will move on to DE/DS and I wouldn't be the one doing the stims.  Either way we are stim free.  Hallelujah!!!!

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Cycle Day 12

This is Heather's husband Ryan. Heather asked me to write today's blog entry and discuss the male perspective on infertility. I thought it would be helpful to talk about the clinical and social aspects of dealing with this condition.

Me reading our follicle count
As you know from reading Heather's blog, we are diagnosed with both unexplained infertility however while we are cycling most of the attention is focused on Heather. I do get to take large quantities of vitamins (a photo of which appeared on an earlier post) but like most things fertility related, what I ingest is relatively small compared with what Heather has. My responsibilities going through an IVF cycle typically consist of administering the shots and providing as much support to Heather as I can. Going through an IVF cycle can be very frustrating as a male. As you know from reading Heather's post, the shots and side effects of the medication can be very painful and it is tough watching her go through it. If I could take the shots for her I would but sadly I do not believe it would be as effective. At this stage of the cycle her discomfort and emotions are all running to the max and I am doing my best to be as emotionally supportive as I can (I still manage to occasionally frustrate her at times though :). To provide support, I try to keep as calm an exterior as I possibly can, however on the inside I feel extremely angry and frustrated. Like others in our situation I am just mad that we have to go through this.

Socially, dealing with infertility on the male side is very isolating. My friends do not really understand the issues that we are facing and it is tough to constantly address why we do not have kids. To further complicate the issue we are at the age where all of our friends are having/had kids and it is hard to see them all moving on while we are still stuck going through this. At times it is all very overwhelming to deal with infertility, provide as much support to Heather as I can, as well as dealing with stress at work. Fortunately for me, I told my boss and he is understanding of me leaving work to go to our numerous appointments. We have met many people going through this journey who do not have the support from their superiors at work and I don't know how they manage. Sometimes the stress from everything: job, family, infertility is just so much I can feel myself shutting down. As a coping mechanism I have generally withdrawn from my social circles which is fairly common according to many other men I have talked with who are also dealing with infertility. I know the isolation is not healthy and I am trying to step back out into the world but it is hard, especially when you see everyone around you getting pregnant. Fortunately Heather runs a support group here in San Diego and there is a strong male presence at the meetings. It is tough for me to discuss my feelings in public but just knowing the other guys in the meeting can relate to what I am going through makes even the standard male conversations about work and sports very therapeutic. Also hearing them discuss their own issues reminds me I am not alone.

Hope this provides everyone with a small glimpse of the male side. To update everyone on our cycle: today was a good day for us though as the news from the doctor was very positive: we have 16 follicles and it looks like they are all progressing very well! There is a light at the end of the tunnel and I am counting the days until our retrieval!

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Cycle Day 11

Today's symptoms: headache still, a very bloated stomach that is starting to get very uncomfortable, tired, emotional (I'm still crying about 5 times a day now) and weight gain has moved to +7lbs and bring on the acne that comes with all the hormones.

Today we have the day off from doctors visits.  Tomorrow we start going every day until they determine that we are ready to go.  They are looking for the smaller follicles to get to 14mm and the bigger follicles to not get larger than 30mm.  This is the reason for the ultrasounds.  We do the bloodwork to make sure that my estradiol doesn't get too high.  If it does get too high you run the risk of OHSS and of all the things that could go wrong, this is one of the worst and most painful.  My E usually ends up between 3500 and 5000 which is actually pretty high.  Most people get up around 2000.  Its a fine line with your E levels.  You want it to increase because that means you body is producing hormones and your follicles are growing.  You want it to not get too big because of the OHSS risk.

Today we are 'enjoying' our last day off (it's hard to enjoy a day like today when I am just so uncomfortable).  That means its time to prep for the upcoming ER week.  I am doing a freeze all so I don't need to get ready for a FET, I just need to get through the ER.  Here is my shopping list:

  • Watermelon - I usually have a hard time with the IV, its tough for them to find the vein. The anesthesiologist told me an old wives tale of eating watermelon the night before helps to keep the veins bigger.  I googled this and got a bunch of results from bodybuilder sites stating that bodybuilders use watermelon before a show in order to make their veins 'pop'.  I swear it works!  Ever since, I eat watermelon about an hour before the cutoff of when you can't eat anymore and since then they have always got the IV going on the first try.  
  • Coconut Water - It is imperative to to drink electrolytes after the retrieval.  If you only drink water, the bloating will remain for a few days.  If you drink electrolytes, the bloating goes down so much quicker.  Gatorade is another option, I just personally don't like the taste.
  • Soup - They recommend eating foods high in sodium.  I just eat a bunch of soup over the next few days.
  • Food for the husband - I don't like to have to worry about him or deal with too much the day of ER or even the day after.  So I usually cook a casserole for him to eat.  This time around it is costco chicken courtesy of my parents.
  • Restock ginger chews.  I have gone through 3 bags already.  I always make sure that I have at least a whole bag on hand.
My brother, Parker and I

Usually I lean on my acupuncturist for help in relieving my pain but once I get this close to the end, I can't have acupuncture anymore so I suffer alone in my discomfort.  All that I can do is wear my IVF pjs and relax, watch a lot of tv, do some crosswords, and take naps.  Luckily I have a very sweet brother who came to pay me a visit today.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, May 1, 2015

Cycle Day 10

Today's symptoms: headache again, bloated stomach, tired, emotional (I'm crying about 5 times a day now) and weight gain has moved to +6lbs.

Today started off with the usual 5:45am wake up call for my Bravelle shot.  Then off to the doctor at 7:30 for my us/bw monitoring appointment.  They call with updates once the labs come back and the doctors have a chance to review the numbers.  So far my FC is still looking good they are all between 8 - 16mm.  The earliest I will trigger will be Sunday night for a Tuesday ER.  Since this will be my last cycle I don't mind stimming a few extra days now in the hopes that the smaller ones have time to grow and will be big enough to retrieve.  The rule of thumb with this clinic is that they need to be over 14mm for there to be a likely chance of getting an egg.

Today's picture was unknowingly taken by Ryan right after I had my blood draw.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am horrible with needles and blood.  After fainting so many times, finally a nurse asked "have you ever tried lying down?'.  It sounds like such a logical solution and I feel stupid for never thinking of it.  Ever since then, I get my blood taken laying down.  I cover my eyes and try and block out all noise.  She lets me know when she is down and then she leaves the room.  I wait a minute or two before sitting up.  I also make sure that I drink at least 1 glass of water before I go and I eat at least a cracker or something small.  Since I've done this, I've never fainted.  If you are a fainter too, I highly recommend this.

Thanks for reading,