Thursday, January 31, 2008

My Embryos are Home

Thank you all for your well-wishes! Sorry for not posting sooner about yesterday's transfer. I'll get into the details in a moment, but in summary, everything went fine, and I have two little blastocysts tucked away inside me. The embryologist said that the quality of both was great.

Right now I am calling them Lefty and Righty, based on where they are in the photo of them that Dr. M. gave me. (no, nothing to do with politics!) Both were graded as 3AA (!), but Righty was graded a little higher, as almost a 4AA. Apparently, the number indicates the stage they are in and the letters have to do with the cells and how tight they are, etc.

Apparently, the ones that were not at the four cell stage on day 2 stopped growing, but six continued to grow. When I walked out of the changing area, the embryologist was talking to Dr. M. and I heard her say that they had these two really good ones, but one (must have been little Righty) was just so perfect... then I heard these words: "The other four (something something something).. so they probably won't make it to freezing."

That was the one time yesterday that my heart dropped. The four they weren't implanting wouldn't 'make it' to freezing? Why couldn't they freeze them right now?! DH was right there and even though he couldn't see my face, he must have known how I felt because he quickly started touching my back, telling me it would be ok. He told me later that he felt exactly as I did when he heard we probably would lose our other four. I tried not let my emotions show on my face, but I guess I didn't do a very good job because Dr. M. looked at me and asked if I was ok. I said yes, it was just that, you know, the other four won't make it... I didn't want to sound like an idiot - I mean, they were going to transfer two great blasts. I understand a little better now, after talking to Dr. M. and reading more about blastocyst transfers. At that moment though, I wanted to make sure that they were still doing everything possible to take care of the other four since I had made it clear that under no circumstance did I want any of them destroyed. Dr. M., awesome as always, was more than happy to talk with me and answer questions yesterday. He also said that only 15% of his patients usually have embryos make it to the blastocyst stage and that my odds of achieving a pregnancy are now much higher. Oh pleeeaaaseee let that be the case.

Dr. M's office just called and as expected, none of the remaining four made it. They weren't quite far enough along yet to freeze and they had to let them grow another day, but they did not continue to grow.

Ok, so I just rambled on about the non-freeze way too long, didn't I? I hope my ramble doesn't make it seem like I don't realize how lucky I am at this moment. I AM excited and happy - for the first time in my life, I am technically, well, pregnant - I mean, I know I'm not until they implant, but this is the closest I have ever been!

I had acupuncture before and after the transfer, and I managed not to wet myself as I lay there with my big, full bladder! I went home and lay on the couch all day. Since I wasn't supposed to go back to work, and all I do is sit on my butt in front of a PC at work, I decided that if I went home and sat on my butt in front of a PC, it would be like being at work! So I just sprawled out and watched cable.

I must cut this post a little short because I am at work. Yes, I know - at work?! Wait! Hang on! Dr. M. would be ok to go to work if I wanted to. Remember -I sit on my butt all day, and I am not stressed at work at the moment, so I'm fine. Plus I work less than 10 minutes from my house, so if I feel like anything is wrong, I'm outta here! I'm on the fourth floor and usually take the stairs, but for now, I'm elevator girl.

Start sticking little ones! That means both of you! Don't get lazy on me now - I am already attached to you both, so I need you both to attach to ME!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Meeting My Embryos

I finally get to meet my embryos at 12:15pm on Wednesday, Jan. 30. I don’t have to be there until noon, but was told to start drinking water around 10:30am, etc etc…. and that I wasn’t allowed to pee after 11am. Argh. I did have some practice back in December, because I had to do the same thing for the mock transfer. Has anyone else done that? I had to arrive with a full bladder, and they run through the procedure (except there are no embryos, obviously). Dr. M. said they do this so they have a good idea ahead of time what my uterus is like and how things should be positioned.

I will actually arrive at the office early, around 11:30am, to meet my acupuncturist. He meets IVF patients at the place of the transfer and gives a half hour session right before and right after transfer. Now that’s cool. I know studies show that the IVF success rate is higher when patients receive treatment on transfer day. I’m doing anything to make sure these little guys/gals stick!

I was hoping that when I found out my transfer time today, I would also receive another embryo update, but I guess I won’t hear anything else until that day. I wonder how they are progressing. My acupuncturist has done treatments at my Dr. M’s office before (it was Dr. M. who recommended him) and he was pretty sure that we would receive a picture of the embryo(s) transferred. Good! I am planning on transferring two – I can’t imagine that at my age, they would hold me to one, at least I hope not.

May I gush about Dr. M. for a moment? I have to say I really lucked out. Well, I guess it wasn’t all luck – I did go to him because he was highly recommended. He owns his own practice so it’s just him – he is the only doctor I see. He does the ultrasounds two days out of the week when the ultrasound assistant isn’t there, and he always does the IUIs. I have seen him every single time I have been to the office, and was able to have the egg retrieval right at the office. He recently moved to this new complex, about six months before I started seeing him. I found out he had it built specifically for his practice, which is why the mini operating room for the retrieval and the lab are right in that same building. I didn’t think much about some of these things until I’ve read some descriptions of some other REs and I realized how fortunate I am. Plus he’s close to my home and office. I am trying to look at all the positive things that have happened through this whole experience and appreciate them, rather than look at just the negatives.... like all my negative pregnancy tests. (ha ha ha)

Speaking of pregnancy tests... my 10 tests arrived this week from Early Pregnancy Tests. You can't beat the price - I got 10 tests for $10.49, which includes shipping. Yes, I admit, I plan on testing before my beta on Feb. 8. I don't plan on testing 10 times, and I will not test if I think I will freak if it's negative. I may wind up not testing because I may chicken out. I guess we'll see.

Keep growing, little ones!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Blast Transfer!!!

Dr. M. called this morning. His exact words were that at least 9 out of the 10 are still growing. 9! Out of the 9, 5 or 6 embabies are 4 or more cells, so, he wants to let all of them continue to grow and do a 5 day transfer on Jan. 30. He said they usually only do a blastocyst transfer if there are at least four embies at 4 cells on day 2. Dr. M. said this was a great cycle, and that he thought my chances of pregnancy just went from 30% to 50%. I’ll get a call some time Monday with another embryo update and to set up the exact time for Wednesday.

I can’t help but be excited, but I realize that even though these numbers are good so far, that doesn’t guarantee implantation or a pregnancy. And even if I do achieve a pregnancy, that doesn’t mean it will be a full-term pregnancy. Trust me, I’ve read too many heartbreaking IF stories not to be fully aware of what can happen.

Again, I still can’t help feeling happy right now. Yes, I know it’s too early to be excited, but this is the farthest I have ever gotten (as far as I know) in the whole procreation game. On paper DH and look perfectly fertile. Up until now I had no idea what was wrong - for all I knew my eggs really sucked. Whatever was keeping me from getting pregnant is still unknown, but I think I may have narrowed it down to two – well, three - possibilities. It’s incredibly stupid for me to speculate like this, but I’ll do it anyway!

My Silly Infertility Speculations:

1. Tubes. While my HSG was fine, there could be another issue that didn’t show on that test. Mild endo that just didn’t show on the billions of ultrasounds? Possibly a defect in the fallopian tube cilia? Ciliary motion is an important factor in normal ovum transport. (yes, I copied that line from another web site!)

2. Problem with my uterine lining/I can’t carry a pregnancy. See, I don’t know if an egg has ever been fertilized within my body. Sooo… I don’t know if any little embies tried to implant but couldn’t because my uterus sucks.

3. Nothing – just some odd imbalance in my system that threw things out of wack just enough to keep me from getting pregnant. This was one of the reasons I started, and have continued acupuncture.

Out of the three silly speculations, obviously #2 would be my nightmare. IVF isn’t going to get around a sucky uterus.

Is it silly to be so happy so early? DH and I are just so excited that as of right now, we actually managed to create something! I do feel a little ridiculous – I mean, fertile people wouldn’t get excited over this. They can just create embryos every month! And I should know better… since day 1 of this infertility journey, it’s always been good news… until the day evil AF arrives. Good SA. Good follies. O’ing with no meds. Good news, good news… awww… look, a stark white pregnancy test, oh, and guess what, AF just showed up! This could happen all over again… look, awesome ebryos…transfer was perfect…. awww… look, a stark white pregnancy test… etc.

I will still remain positive. I’ve had cycles where I have felt totally negative, and some where I have felt very positive, and while the result has so far been the same, I do believe positive energy can only help, as corny as that seems. So I will remain silly, corny and positive. Keep growing little ones!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

My Egg-citing Day.

Thanks to everyone who played 'Guess the Eggs' from my previous post. Congratulations to Duck - she guessed correctly! They retrieved a total of 12 eggs!! I was truly amazed, considering my follie sizes on Wednesday. I was then immediately curious as to how many might actually fertilize, but tried to put it out of my mind so I didn't go nuts.

Well, my fertilization answer came this morning.... 10! TEN!! DH and I started jumping up and down and high-fiving when that phone call came. Now the next step... will they continue to grow? I'll know tomorrow, but as of right now, we have 10 little ones. I can't believe it. Since I have never been pregnant for one second in my entire life, I really thought there could be an egg/fertilization issue. I know the numbers can still change a lot, but I am still happy about the initial results.

Anyway, the egg retrieval yesterday was actually much easier than I anticipated. I actually could have gone into work, but decided to just take the day. I didn't post yesterday because I got involved in doing things around the house that I just usually don't have time for during the week, making phone calls (you know, the kind where you have to wait on hold for 15 minutes and speak to 3 different people - a real pain to do during work), etc. Then DH and I went out to dinner to celebrate our dozen eggs.

So, for the retrieval, DH and I arrived at 6:30am at RE's office (I shall now refer to my RE as Dr. M. I decided he is cool enough - a while ago - to get a title besides the generic 'My RE'.) Anyway, I just had to fill out the paperwork for the anesthesiologist, pay for the anesthesiologist, and then I was taken to another room. DH asked if he could go along but that's when I had to get prepped and he had to stay in the waiting area.

'Prepped' was basically just taking off my clothes, putting them in a locker, putting on a gown, hair net thing, and booties, and going to the bathroom one last time. I walked out of the locker room/prep area and sat down for a minute, and then just a few minutes later went into what looked like a mini operating room. There was a square opening on one wall, and you could see into the lab area on the other side. They told me that after they retrieve the eggs, they hand them over to the lab, right through that opening. Pretty cool. I then lay on the table while they hooked up up to monitors and an IV, and then put little tubes in my nose. I then received some very nice drugs that made me feel pretty mellow and happy. :-) I schooched down and my legs were propped up in something like a stirrup, except my calves actually lay on the contraption instead of my heels. I remember looking up at the ceiling, and then the next thing I knew, I was being helped up off the table.

I was assisted into the recovery area, which was actually the first area I sat down in after changing before the procedure. They commented on how well I was walking. I felt a little 'out of it' but not too bad. This was about 7:25am, because DH looked at the clock - just as I was sitting down in the recovery area and putting my legs up in what felt like the kind of recliner I wouldn't mind sitting in all the time at home. He only peeked in for a moment because he was being led into the 'sample room.' I guess they wait to make sure they actually get eggs before they have him do anything else. Poor DH - I can't imagine having to do that right there at the office! Our IUI samples were always done at home because the office is so close.

As I was sitting there, before DH came back in, they told me how many eggs they retrieved and I would have jumped if I still wasn't a little woozy! Then DH came in and I have to say, I felt pretty ok. Maybe slightly 'out of it' but not bad at all. I then asked the IVF coordinator to review the PIO shot procedure with DH. Then, by 7:50am, I was leaving the office! They didn't rush me at all, I could have stayed longer but I felt fine. They did say that I recovered faster than most people. Dr. M did say before I left that I was to stay out of the gym! Believe it or not, he goes to the same gym as I do and I have bumped into him before! Oh darn, I have a valid excuse to not exercise. ;-)

I felt rather crampy the rest of the day and took some Tylenol. Actually, the worst pain was in my throat! They mentioned before retrieval that I would be breathing on my own, but maybe they put a tube down your throat anyway once you are unconscious? I tell you, my throat just felt scratchy and dry all day. I can still feel a little bit, over 24 hours later. However, I actually couldn't believe that I felt find except for the crampiness and sore throat. I guess about 1pm yesterday I suddenly became very tired and zoned out for about an hour. Then the phone rang and I felt fine again.

When I went to change later to go out to dinner, I noticed something else - thank goodness Dr. M. told me about this in advance. My post retrieval puffy middle! My pants were super tight around my waist - my abdomen was (and still is!) as puffy as can be! I was pretty bloated before retrieval, and Dr. M. told me not to be alarmed if I became bigger in the days following the retrieval. In fact, he said some people feel like they need to wear maternity clothes! Now, that's a bit of an exaggeration but I'm certainly not going to be wearing anything that's form fitting around my middle this weekend, and elastic waistbands are my best friends right now. I probably sound incredibly vain, but I'm not - and I'm not complaining - I just get ancy sometimes because I have struggled with weight my whole life. While I am currently not overweight, (I am a lifetime Weight Watchers member - yes, the program does work!) it's a constant battle (thus me going to the gym a lot and bumping into Dr. M.) which makes me more conscious of my puffy middle, especially since that is one of the main places where my fat decides to hang out. Trust me though, I'll be loving my big middle when it's related to pregnancy!

I think DH was more nervous about the PIO shot than I was. I got the needle ready last night and told him not to worry - just stick it in! I was surprised how little it hurt. The shots I had to give myself in my actually stomach hurt more. I start proges. suppositories tonight, and I have to use those twice day, and have the PIO shot every night. (and I thought taking less than half this amount of proges was bad - hoo boy, this is going to be fun!) I am also taking Doxc.ycline, Eastra.diol and Me.drol.

I find out tomorrow how our embies are doing, and will find out if it will be a 3 day transfer (Monday) or if things look good enough for a 5 day transfer (Wednesday). Dr. M. said they only freeze 5 day embies and I really hope to have some to freeze. Now it's time to wait for the next phone call..... is it Sunday yet?!?!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Guess How Many Eggs

I triggered last night at 7:04pm exactly, and I am supposed to be at my RE's office at 6:30am tomorrow.

Ok, let's make this fun! I have no idea how many eggs they'll get tomorrow. I've read some blogs where they're getting 16-20 eggs and I'm jealous! :-) I had 16 follies as of yesterday, but only half, at most, will probably be mature.

I am guessing they will get seven eggs, which may be a little too optimistic, but that's my guess! So... how many eggs do YOU think they'll get? Don't be afraid to post a low number. This is just for fun!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My Eggs are Ready

I had an appointment with my RE yesterday and today. I didn't write down my follicle sizes yesterday. My estrogen level was skyrocketing so I was told to actually decrease the amount of Breve.lle I took last night. This morning, the follicles sizes were:

Right: 19, 18, 16, 16, 15, 15, 13, 9, 7, 6mm

Left: 17, 13, 11, 9, 8, 6mm

Gee, looks like my left side decided not to do sh*t the past two days! Only one follicle really grew! Hrmph. I was rather disappointed in the growth on the left ovary, but my RE was pretty enthusiastic and said that this was a great cycle and that I would be ready for my HCG trigger tonight and they would retrieve eggs Friday morning. I'm still feeling less than thrilled - out of 16 follicles, it looks like I may get at the most, 7 eggs.... 8 if I am super lucky and one of the 13's grow a little before my HCG shot this evening and produce a mature egg. I know it's technically possible to have a mature egg in a 14mm follicle, but it's not that likely.

I really expected the left side to have 3 or 4 mature follies by this point. I've been taking injections since Jan 11 (and oh boy, does my abdomen feel it! My pants are tight!!) So now I wonder... at most 7 eggs, usually they don't all fertilize, so let's say I'm lucky and at least 5 do, but then only 2 or 3 embryos grow...I guess I can't really think about that. I still don't know if my eggs will even fertilize! I will be on pins and needles until Saturday morning.

I was told that I will probably get to my RE's office (they do everything right there, which is nice) around 6am, but they would call me with an exact time later today after they speak to the anesthesiologist and get the results of this morning's blood work. My RE said that I should not plan on going to work at all on Friday, even though I should be on my way home by 8:30am. I thought perhaps I could make it in for half a day, but decided to just let people at work know that I won't be in on Friday. I told them I was having a minor surgical procedure - obviously I am not saying exactly what is going on. Luckily I have been able to get to my appointments each morning and be back within an hour and I just don't take a lunch break. Sometimes I don't think people notice I am gone... thank goodness my job is flexible, and I work in a cubicle :) So, I don't think anyone realizes that I have been to the Dr. every single day this week!

Of course, people might notice if I start writing long blog entries instead of finding software bugs! More later!

Monday, January 21, 2008

IVF - My Partying Follies

I am so mad that Green Bay lost yesterday :-( Dang it. I was really REALLY hoping they would win – I didn’t think the Giants (UGH!) would beat them. When the Giant’s kicker missed the easy field goal to put the game into overtime, I literally jumped onto DH, screaming happily. The entire bar was going nuts since most were rooting for GB. Obviously, that joy was short lived… and if you didn’t watch the game, you’re probably wondering what the hell I am talking about.
Oh wait, this isn’t a football blog, is it?

I really can’t figure out why I have not been into the good ol’ blogging thang recently. You would think I’d be posting daily since I’ve entered the world of IVF.

Here’s the quick and dirty update: I’ve been on Brave.lle and Mena.pur since January 11. Started at 300 amps of Brave.lle, and have been upped to 450. Mena.pur has stayed at 150 amps. Just started Ganirel.ix this Saturday.

Follicle growth has been a little slower than I expected. As of last Friday (Jan. 18) I had about 13 follicles but the biggest was only 10. My left ovary has been taking a break too – only four on the left side. This happened on my last medicated cycle in November ’07 – all the follies were on the right. And, when my RE checked my follies during the IVF mock transfer in December (no meds) the one follicle was on the right. (yes, natural ovulation!) Prior to that, the left side was keeping up with the right. While my RE says nothing indicates that my age has affected things at this point, I have to wonder, as my 37th birthday approaches, if things are slowing down. Grrrr.

Anyway, my lower abdomen just started getting rather bloated over the weekend, and I thought that I had better see a big follicle party going on at my checkup today. Well, it seems as if there really was a party going on because I now have 16 follicles. The sizes are as follows:

Right:15, 15, 13, 12, 10, 10, 10, 10, 7, 6

Left: 13, 13, 11, 9, 6, 5

Even my lefty follies were partying this weekend! Obviously, the 5 and 6 ones probably won’t be mature by retrieval day. My RE still wanted to move things along which is why my Brave.lle injection was increased. I go back tomorrow, and egg retrieval is probably going to be Friday, possibly Saturday depending on how fast the follies plan on growing.

I made it clear to my RE at the beginning of this cycle that I would really like to have embryos to freeze if possible. I have no idea if I can carry a pregnancy and I would really like some frosties in case this first round does not work. And if things do work this time…. then we can try and have more kids without another full IVF cycle.

I am extremely curious to see how my eggs fertilize. Since my condition is completely unexplained, and I have never been pregnant for even one second, I don’t know if my eggs just don’t fertilize, or they do fertilize but just don’t implant.

I was very upset when AF arrived right before the New Year and I knew I was about embark on IVF. I’ve since gotten over that and accepted things. I visit my RE again tomorrow.