Saturday, December 30, 2006

14w2d Get In My Belly!

I am an eating machine. Trying to consume healthy stuff, and for the most part that is going ok. I seem to have no desire whatsoever for sweet stuff, which is totally weird for me. I barely touched any holiday treats because they just seemed kinda... ew. Normally, I would be eating a Christmas cookie or candy every 10 minutes if it was anywhere in the vicinity.

The hard thing is that I am starving just about 2 hours after I've eaten. Even if I eat something very high in protein, like this morning - 2 eggs on toast and cereal with milk. Hungry again just 2.5 hours later. My non-preg with twins self would be fine until 4 in the afternoon on fuel like that!

Does anyone have any tips (except for "keep eating!") that might make this a bit easier? I know it sounds kinda fun to be hungry all the time, but it's totally not. It's kinda demoralizing. Because I don't enjoy the food in the way I might when feeling normal. It's a VERY intense hunger but though I am not exactly nauseated all the time, it's still kinda yucky to eat about 70% of the time. But I HAVE to eat, and do it immediately, because if I don't the blood glucose plummets and the crash is not pretty: shaky, depressive feelings, dizziness.

Oh yeah, I should mention - I don't eat meat/poultry, which makes it all a bit more challenging. I DO eat plenty of dairy, eggs, and some seafood, though I am trying not to overdo this (mercury and other contaminant concerns + environmental concerns). I'm definitely into the tofu, tempeh, beans, seeds, nuts, etc. and trying to balance with complex carbs and good amout of fats. but I'm running out of creativity! Help! Anything you can think of besides "Suck it up, UtRus!" ?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

13w2d Fog is Lifting

I hope I am not speaking too soon, but it seems as if the nausea is lessening. A few days ago I got my progesterone level tested and it was 60 (!) so I went off the vag suppositories. I was on 200MG 4x per day until a week after the CVS. I think the combo of starting the 3rd trimester and going off all that extra progesterone has made a big difference. I've got two placentas in here now producing all they need.

I've noticed a big mood change at the same time. Soon as that extra progesterone left my system I have felt better than I have in months. Like a fog has lifted. I have had a few poignant moments of "feeling like myself" - do you know what I mean?

Ironically, I remember that going ON the progesterone when I did actually helped. I was feeling anxious at the time and it seemed to take the edge off those feelings. But then after a while, it felt different. As the pregnancy progressed and hormones icreased, it was more tired/depressive feelings rather than anxiety, per se.

Anyway, I am reminded that all this hormonal business that we go through COMBINED WITH the stresses of fertility treatments can make for a pretty intense rollercoaster. I think I have sometimes forgotten how big a part the chemicals play. I have mentioned before that I go to a therapist weeky, which really helps a lot. But it's nice to be reminded that brain chemistry is a *real* issue, and that we can only do what we can do in terms of cognitive behavioral therapy IN SPITE OF the hormones.

Thanks for checking up on me! All is well. :) I am learning to eat small meals very often (6-7 times per day) balanced with good protein, carbs and fats and plenty of fiber to keep things movin'. I was having some pretty intense blood-sugar plunges, and now I think I am finally getting a handle on this part. Walking 4-5 times per week and now about to go to my first prenatal yoga class. Will start swimming soon.

More soon - Happy Hannukah, Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwanza, Happy Bodhi Day... no matter how you celebrate, I wish you the very best and send my profound thanks to you for connecting with me. It means so much. I am reading you!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

12w Good News

Our CVS results came back normal. We are extremely relieved. And these are the final CVS results, with cultures and all. We still have to do AFP testing at around 15 weeks.

We now know the sex of the wigglers: one girl and one boy. Thank you, universe. So far so good. I still can't help the difficult scenarios that my brain thinks up. I hope I continue to become more optimistic as time goes on.

So... we're coming out of the closet slowly today. We're being really choosy and careful about who we're telling first. We have so many friends who have experienced loss and fertility problems that we want to tell them first, and gently, and coming straight from us. I hate this part of it. Especially with twins. It's not fair. Makes me sick to my stomach. And it's not the morning sickness.

Monday, December 11, 2006

11w4d CVS Procedure

I am lying on the couch taking it easy after our CVS procedure this morning. It went very well - the doc was able to get samples from both wigglers through my cervix, thereby thwarting the need to go through the abdomen. With twins, they often do have to go through the abdomen for at least one of 'em.

I would say that the procedure was no more uncomfortable than my HSG, which is to say, pretty mild. I have sort of a wacky curved cervix that creates a challenge for any doc trying to thread a catheter up there, but this doc was really adept! Frankly, the worst part was when he put the speculum in and had to wrench things around a little because of my retroverted uterus.

The doc had an awesome bedside manner and spent a lot of time with us. What a great guy. And so awesome to know that his stats are amazing. So. We'll get the partial results by the end of this work week, and the rest of the results (they need to culture cells) within 5 weeks.

Hubs was pretty nervous this morning. Actually, he mentioned it quite a few times this week. I think the anticipation is hard for him. For some reason, even though I am an accomplished worrier, I don't feel too worried about this. I guess I'm so used to people messing around in the ol' Ute that it just doesn't phase me much anymore. Also, as far as the results go, I figure that what is already is, and has been so since we put sperm and egg together. I want everything to be ok, but just don't feel any worry. Novel!

Really hope that everything is ok and that we can start to tell people. It's getting harder to hide - I'm a pretty slim person and am definitely showing a pot belly. And looking a bit thicker in general. I've made so many excuses and told so many little white lies (little pink and/or blue lies?) that I really am looking forward to coming clean.

And yes, we're gonna find out the genders. Stay tuned. Reading you, and fingers crossed for all the CycleSistas...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

10w1d Little Wigglers

Went to the RE for our second-to-last checkup. Here are Batman and Robin in their Bat-sacs in the Batcave at 10w1d.

The little wiggler on the left was waving her/his arms around and the one on the right was sleeping until the end of the ultrasound when he/she woke up and started wiggling around as well. I can't feel anything yet. When do you think I will be able to feel them moving? I have heard that with first pregnancies, you feel it later (because you don't know what it feels like?)...

And here is a wacky 3D photo of either Batman or Robin. I find it kinda freaky - it's so... REAL.

They are only about the size of kumquats but so detailed already. I didn't know that so much differentiation happens by this point. It made a big impression on Hubs as well.

We had our genetic counselling session to prep for our CVS testing one week from tomorrow. Learned a few new things, but we went into it fairly schooled up already. Really hoping everything will be ok. Stats are on our side (chance of 1:82 for each fetus - which means 1:41 overall - that something would be found to be wrong)... but we do know at least 2 couples who have had very bad results and have had to terminate. So, we are aware that anything can happen.

Nausea seems to be lessening in the past few days, but it's early yet, so not sure I'm out of the woods with that. Still getting desperately tired by about 3PM. Feels kinda like the worst sort of jet-lag. But overall, doing pretty well. And mentally, though I still have moments of disbelief, panic... I am going on 3 weeks now of a much-improved mental state. For that, I could not be more grateful.

UPDATE: Forget that above comment about nausea lessening. I blew technicolor chunks last night for the first time, ruining my record of "haven't thrown up yet." And it was this totally nice stew that Hubs had made. I felt bad about that (but not as bad as I do about all the blood vessels I broke around my eyes from yacking so hard). Almost lost it this morning as well. Is this gonna suddenly get worse NOW? At 10 1/2 weeks? Sheesh.

Monday, November 27, 2006

9w4d L'il Update

Sorry so long between posts. Thanks for checking in. Everything is so far so good with the two growing embryos... which now might be fetuses? Not sure of exact definition. Apparently they are about the size of grapes, so we are calling them "The Grapes."

I have been pretty sick. The first half of every day is pretty low-key as all I can do on most mornings is eat as much as I can get down in 2 separate breakfasts about 2 hours apart and then wind up falling asleep again. When I wake up at about noon or 1PM, I'm usually feeling a bit better and then try to get out and get some exercise by walking. I can't wait until I'm allowed to swim. Right now I still can't because I think there is some concern that it could wash away the progesterone vaginal suppositories that are so crucial.

I have not yet thrown up, and am really happy about that. And some days are really quite tolerable and not bad at all. But I have never been so tired. It's shocking (in a tired way, if you know what I mean). I had always heard of the exhaustion in the first trimester, but I had no idea it was so overwhelming. I now officially worship the women who take care of their other small children while pregnant AND some who do this and work too! I cannot imagine how they function. And yet, so many do it and do it well!

Mentally, things have been a bit lighter in the past 10 or so days. I don't have precise answers as to why, I only know that I am grateful and hope the trend continues. Even with the raging hormones, I seem to be spending less time depressed or anxious and more time in the "normal zone." Can't say I'm feeling AWESOME, but who would with 24-7 nausea? I have been continuing to work without fail at therapy, meditation and other parts of life.

It's pretty mysterious, how something that can seem completely overwhelming from one outlook can seem completely manageable (and maybe even fun?) through another outlook. The mind is so mysterious in some ways. But it does follow patterns, and if I can get quiet enough, it's possible to begin to discern... and slowly, like a determined snail, make my way across that barren concrete to another lush garden where I will likely, and with luck, spend the vast majority of my lifetime.

I have not yet formed a substantial attachment to these Grapes. I have little glimmers of looking forward to the future, but until we've gone through the genetic testing and made it further into this pregnancy, I don't really have the urge to be overly attached. I feel fairly optimistic, but I am wary. As... as we learn to be.

So on that note, we have an RE appointment in 4 days, an OB appointment in 9 days, as well as our genetic counseling session in preparation for CVS testing in a couple weeks from now.

I am reading you. :)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

7w5d - First OB Appointment

I went for my first OB appointment today. I liked the doc a lot and think I will stick with her. She answered all my questions and was reasuring. I could tell she's heard it all before, and instead of finding that at all annoying, I found it rather comforting. Can you imagine how many people have asked, "Can I eat peanut butter during pregnancy?" We did a vag ultrasound and...

... there are still two and they are still both measuring normally with little beating hearts. One measuring at 7w6d and the other at 8w.

Last week, I noticed that my nausea decreased rather suddenly one day. This was a big change from how it had been at, say, 6 weeks when it was really bad. I had convinced myself that perhaps we'd had a vanishing twin, which is really quite common. I admit that I was somewhat comfortable with the idea, as I am still totally freaked out about having twins. But I was also relieved to see that they are both doing fine. And the nausea is back, in waves. Nothing original, I know. Not the first person to feel gaggy and food-hatin' all day!

I have still been feeling some depression. Which, I guess isn't all that unusual, since they say that 1 in 5 women experience depression during their pregnancy or post-partum. And today I learned that depression/anxiety is the number one complication of childbirth. When I think about it that way, it doesn't seem so weird or anything to be ashamed of. It's not made easier by feeing physically ill most of the time, and in fact, I think it has contributed to my challenges in bouncing back.

But I will bounce back. I know that these feelings are not who I am, and that they are temporary and treatable. In fact, I am signing up to be a part of a pregnancy/mood study at a local university. I just found out that I qualify nicely and I think it will give me some more insight and the coordinator told me that they refer women in the study to support systems regularly (therapists, psychiatrists, etc who specialize in this). Can't hurt, and I might actually contribute to helping someone in the future. That makes me feel really good.

Friday, November 03, 2006

6w1d Heartbeats and Nausea

I went for 6 week scan today and we saw two little fluttery heartbeats. Here is a 3D scan of Batman and Robin in their gestational sacs. Each about the size of a lentil! They each also have a "yolk sac" attached, though superhero uniforms do not yet seem to be present.

One of them is measuring at 6w4d (CRL=.61cm; GS=2.26) and the other at 6w5d (CRL=.54cm; GS=2.45).

Quite crazy indeed! Additional good news is that my RE wants to continue to follow me closely until 12 weeks. I am so grateful to not be let go right away. I also have made an initial appointment with an OB recommended by my RE (who has experience with IVF pregnancies, twins, high risk, etc.) 2 weeks from now.

I am also scheduled for CVS with one of the most highly regarded guys in the country for this procedure. Will do this test at 11 1/2 weeks because I have to wait until at least 11 weeks with twins.

So far so good and the best news of all this week is I AM ALLOWED TO RESUME EXERCISE because the placental separation I had has resolved. I am so grateful. I don't do very well without exercise. I really hope I never have to be on long bed rest. No jinx, no jinx.

Mentally. Wow. It's been really intense. I should have been expecting this, as I've read it in so many peoples' blogs... IF'ers don't just turn off the stress and uncertainty and all of a sudden turn into those people who feel unabandoned happiness. I am happy very deep inside, and I know I'm lucky so far and I am extremely grateful every day. But I am going to tell the truth here: I am quite shocked and sometimes downright scared shitless about twins. I had issues BEFORE about how having one kid might change my life in ways that I might not love, but now it's magnified.

Sometimes I feel completely overwhelmed, and last week I was very clearly depressed. The hormones are pumping. This week I'm feeling a bit different. A little calmer, a little less shell-shocked. I am trying to give myself permission to take time to let it sink in, to go day by day and grow with whatever grows within me. I am experimenting with a new paradigm right now: I will walk willingly through this gate of change and be changed by the experience. If this pregnancy (oh my god I wrote it!) carries on, I will be changed, my life will change. Grasping on to who I was with terror of losing the "before" is not only futile, it's irrelevant. I want to be excited and optimistic about this adventure. I have glimpses of it. But I'm not there yet.

Complicating the mental challenges is the fact that I'm feeling pretty sick. Food sucks. I hate food. I must eat it, however, and I do feel a lot better when I have chomped down some grub, but I am averted to everything. I have not yet yacked, and am remaining hopeful that it stays like this and doesn't get too much worse. The morning sickness was detectable at 4.5 weeks but really kicked in at 5.5 weeks.

What a friggin' trip this is. Any tips and assvice appreciated. And I am reading you. Fingers crossed for all the Oct/Nov cycle Sistas.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Hope x 2 at 4w6d

I am no ultrasound technician, but I could make this out in about 5 seconds flat:

And each one has a little mass a-growin' inside (though I only got a photo of one) - see where that little white mark is pointing over to the left?

The reason I had this scan today is because I have been having a little mild pain in the right side of my abdomen for the past 2 nights - I was instructed to call if I had anything at all unusual, so I did. I am extremely grateful that there is no ectopic. Also grateful that they get me in with a simple phone call just like that!

During this wanding they also discovered:

1) that the pain in my right side is just some bowels acting up (they have been a bit uneasy this week, so this makes sense)
2) that i have a very slight separation between one of the sacs and the uterus. (I think that's correct - doc referred to it alternately as a "small blood clot" and a "separation.")

This #2 means that I am ordered to chill the heck out for the next week. Had to cancel a job that I was booked for and must knock off the exercise (was walking every day and MIGHT have broken into a run yesterday. Felt great, by the way). Not even going for walks allowed this week. It's not true "bed-rest" so I can sit at my desk and such, but must comply. My RE is hopeful that the separations will disappear. Also, progesterone increased to 200mg 4xday.

All I can say is, thank GOD for that inital very high Beta number. So we knew already for over a week that it could be two. Or else I would have fained dead away on the table. And I'm not a fainter. Presently I am maintaining "living in the moment" so as to not wig right out with anxiety over various implications.

It is extremely early - I am only 4weeks + 6days right now. Don't think I've forgotten that for a moment. Most "normals" would just be 6 days late for their period and wondering if they could be pregnant at this point. They would have no idea of these types of details. I know that either one, or both, of these things that are in there dividing could disappear at any time.

I go back in exactly one week to see if any little heart(s) could be fluttering and for fetal pole measurement, should we be so fortunate. At this time, however... ok. Pretty neat. And much further than we've ever been before. Which is really all one can ask for.

Hugs to you out there. Thanks for being with me on such a crazy, crazy day.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I Heart hCG

Second beta (9dp5dt, 10AM) = 464. Doubling time of 1.5 days.

For the past two days I have been wondering how to write about this. It's similar to what I have read on others' blogs. I feel:

1) Happy.

2) Sure it won't work out.

3) Relief that things (in this aspect of life) might actually work out.

4) Guilty that others are not experiencing what I am right now.

5) Thankful that at least I know I can even GET .... you know...

6) Calm when I realize that it is what it is and I can't control any of it.

7) Disbelief because I have never experienced this before and it happens to other people, not to me. This cannot possibly be real.

I hope that this positive does for you what other people's positives have always done for me: give me great hope. Just as their negatives, miscarriages and other challenges have made me cry with pain and continue to scare the crap out of me. I am a LONG LONG way from things working out in this part of my life, but we're further than we've ever been. I hope that no matter where you are on your journey you will get where you need to go, and I hope that I will, too.

I need all of you. Please stay with me. I will never start a pregnancy blog separate from this one, I will never "forget where I came from." Don't think for a second that I don't know that I could very well wind up right back where I started. In the blink of an eye this post could look foolish and full of hubris. But there's one thing I've been meaning to express for a while - from before this FET #2 even started.

I have learned more about myself in the past year and a half of IF than I have ever before in my life. Coming to the realization, about 6 or 8 weeks ago, that I was going to truly be ok and that my life could be good even without children has been a gift. I will never be the same. I got hurt and I have been working hard at healing - coming throught the other side of a battle with anxiety/depression brough on by IF issues was just hard enough for me to know that I can survive this. And whatever may come next. If anyone wants my assvice about therapy and meditation and other helpful hints, please ask and we'll start up an email correspondance.

I now wish I had written this before my positive so that there would be no doubt that the optimism wasn't due to the positive. This experience has been a gift. A gift that I didn't want when it showed up at my door. A gift that I wouldn't specifically wish on anyone else. But now that I've been living it, I can see the value. If it was deemed to be worth the (expensive IVF) price we paid for it on Antique Roadshow I would not sell it. I would keep it. It is part of who I am.

Please take some of the happiness generated by my current experience and put it in your own heart. It isn't mine, it is all of ours. Just as we're never alone when there's great pain.


Monday, October 16, 2006

Thoughts While Continuing the Wait

First beta (7dp5dt, 10AM) = 185.

Holy beta level, Batman! (and... uh... Robin?) Next beta scheduled for two days later (which is now tomorrow).

I am happy to know that an embie or embies are sticking well enough to produce some hCG. This means that I am capable of getting this far. We did not know this before, so it is a step in a good direction. It means, I guess, that anything is possible.

I have had a couple "symptoms" over the last few days: stingy bbs (especially nips - also flaky skin there just a little), one day of noticable cramping (5dp5dt), and some very mild waves of nausea. When I insert the progesterone poppers the vag canal seems to go way higher, my fingers can't reach the top (sorry for TMI).

Last month, during our first unsuccessful FET, I had pretty much these exact same symptoms but I couldn't test because we were on an island without HPTs to purchase! The symptoms suddenly disappeared at 10dp5dt, and then when I got my beta at 14dp5dt it was negative. So, either: symptoms at this stage mean nada OR if something was sticking last time and ended fast, the same thing could very easily happen now. I am just grateful to know that we got this far, and in fact, this was my impetus for testing so early. Wanted to try and "catch" it if something was there. Just for informational purposes.

Here is a list of things I did differently this month than I did last time. It means absolutely NOTHING in a scientific sense, there are zero controls. I just feel like writing this stuff down for some reason.

1) Bedrest ONLY the rest of the day of my transfer. Got back to normal, light activity the next day. (Last time, I had 2 1/2 days of bedrest.)

2) Acupuncture during FET procedure but NOT in the weeks prior or following. However, have been partaking in massage. (Last time, I did acupuncture about twice per week before and after)

3) Did not take valium during the FET procedure. (Last time I did.)

4) Started drinking milk (organic) for the first time in... 10 years?

5) Made concerted effort to gain a few pounds. I chime in at around 20 in terms of BMI and I might even be a little lower than that because I am quite muscular. I have read that even if an athlete does not display amenorrhea, a BMI of less than 20 can make pregnancy a lot less likely. Mind you, I don't know if this pertains only to ovulatory issues (irrelevant during IVF) or other issues like implantation, etc.

6) Have been taking sublingual Vitamin B12 1000MCG for the past 6 weeks. I am vegetarian, and don't consume a lot of dairy/eggs. (Again, anemia/B12 issues may pertain to fertility but specifically to ovulation...) But I eat very well, and a LOT, and of course have been taking the PNV's for over a year. Duh.

7) Did not drink this "Pregnancy Tea" that a friend gave me. (Last time I drank 1 or 2 cups per day during the 2WW.)

8) I'm realizing this list is totally stupid. There are a million variables - I didn't fly on a plane this time, I ate more burritos this time, I watched more comedies this time,... FORGET THIS DUMB LIST! IF'ers behave this way, I guess. Always trying to use the magical thinking to explain things.

Updates to come. Staying optimistic and measured. No thinking ahead, just thinking about what to have for breakfast.


oh. my. god.

never, ever, ever before. not one time in my life has this ever happened to me.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Distraction: The "5 Items In" Meme

Soralis tagged me back in JUNE! Talk about procrastination. Holy crap. What the heck, I could use a little distraction, so why not. :) Here we go:

5 Items in My Fridge
red miso paste
cashew nut butter
seaweed paste
organic apples
leftover whole wheat spaghetti

5 Items in My Closet
wrapping paper with skateboards on it
rolly lint-remover thing
new pink (!) t-shirt
black converse sneakers
dirty laundry (the real kind, not the metaphorical kind)

5 Items in My Car
new, unopened box of tissues "with lotion"
map book
emergency GORP in the glove compartment
paper bags to re-use at Trader Joe's
quarters for meters

5 Items in My Purse
cell phone
small container with a few Estrace and Micronized Progseterone in case I'm not home when it's time

5 People Who are Now Tagged
please tell me if you want this MEME! it was so long ago, I can't remember who already did it. I will add your link:
J.N. at Misconceptions of Pink Lines on a Stick you are tagged!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

FET #2 Launched

I introduce to you... Batman and Robin. The two 5-day blasts we replaced yesterday morning:

We are fortunate to have a really good embryologist at our clinic. These two freezies survived the thaw (as did our previous three. She's 5 for 5!), expanded fully, and are in me Utie. They are the last frozen embryos we've got. Should this not work, we'll be on to IVF #2.

I opted not to take the valium this time. I had noticed during my HSG and our first FET that I really don't experience any pain when a catheter is inserted into my cervix. Maybe I don't have many nerve endings there, I dunno. So though Valium is fun, I didn't want to take it if unnecessary. And I was totally fine. I got acupuncture before and after, very relaxing. I had the mildest level of cramping just after the procedure - just twinges that lasted about an hour. And yesterday I spent the day feeling relaxed but not sleepy or groggy.

I only did one day of bed rest this time. I wanted to do none, but the doc insisted that I comply and rest up for the remainder of yesterday. So. Humph. Ok. But there does not seem to be any proof whatsoever that bed rest influences outcome. And lying around for even one day makes my back/neck sore. I can only imagine how people on long-term bed rest feel.

Thanks for your good wishes and support. I really appreciate it and send the same to you, regardless of where you are on your journey.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Greenlight FET #2

We are planning to do FET #2 of two 5-day blasts in 5 days from now (Monday). At checkup this morning endometrium measured in at 9.3mm which is fine. I still have no dominant follicle that looks ready to ovulate. Matters not.

Tomorrow I cut back to 2mg 2xday of Estrace and begin vaginal micronized progesterone 200mg 3xday. Even if I ovulate later in the cycle, it apparently doesn't matter (and I probably wouldn't because I'm on progesterone).

Feeling pretty calm, mainly concentrating on other things, other aspects of life, while keeping hope and optimism for this part. I hope that both the embyos survive the thaw on Monday morning. I've scheduled acupuncture for directly before and after (very calming, and worth it just for that).

In my back pocket I've got the thought that our RE has a new plan in mind for IVF#2 should we need it. A protocol that involves less drugs. And this morning we saw lots of follicles on my ovaries. So, the idea is: not too much pressure on this FET - it's all part of the process. Hoping for the best and releasing control to the universe.

Not meaning to sound too crunchy here (as in granola)... but it's true. None of us can control whether this FET will result in a negative, a pregnancy, a viable pregnancy or a baby. And worrying accomplishes nothing. Therefore, I continue to do a great deal of personal work in shifting modes of thought about this. I tell you, it's a hell of a lot more comfortable!

Hope you're all doing well - I'm reading you.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Today's Wanding

It's FET "natural-medicated" cycle day number 9. Today's vag ultrasound revealed an endometrial thickness of just over 8mm. So looks like we will be doing ok in the thickness department. Tomorrow I increase the Estrace to 2mg 3x day for the next 5 days.

I had quite a few antral follicles, but the ultrasound tech only measured one. I am not sure it would be considered too "dominant". I hope that I will ovulate. Does anyone know at what point in a cycle a follicle makes itself known to look like it's gonna toss out an egg?

[Note: I mean to ask: by what day (average) in the cycle can a dominant follicle usually be detected...]

UPDATE: I think I am now understanding that since I am on the supportive meds (Estrace and will be on progesterone) that it doesn't really matter whether I ovulate or not. If I am anovulatory during this FET cycle, the effect is the same as a cycle when they shut down your ovarian function with Lupron. The meds take the place of what the corpus luteum would do after ovulation.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Starting FET #2

I went in to my RE to discuss the un-success of FET #1. We had a nice, long talk. Guys, he gave me an entire, non-rushed half an hour. He answered all my questions and it just so happens that my period arrived yesterday. (Yay!) So I got scanned and was found to be delightfully free of cysts. (Double yay!) That means...Tomorrow we start FET #2 cycle.

We're doing what I believe to be called a "natural-medicated" cycle. That is, no Lupron, no pituitary supressants. I will be taking only estrace and micronized progesterone and will be monitoring for LH surge of my natural cycle and doing the replacement based on when I ovulate. If I surge too early (before the endometrium is thick enough) they can put me on Ganirelix to suppress ovulation for a few days, but hopefully that won't happen. Also, I suppose it is possible to have an anovulatory cycle, which would result in cancellation for this month, but I think anovulatory cycles are unusual for me. The only time I have documented this is my cycle directly following IVF.

We've got two excellent grade day 5 frozen blasts this time. Last time we were very lucky that all three of our other 5-dayers survived the thaw. We'll simply have to hope for the same luck this time, because we have no backups. You just never know what will happen on the day.

The doc and I also discussed next steps. I always like to work ahead a little because it helps me not get too overly attached to the cycle at hand. He said should we need to go there, he'd like to do our next IVF cycle with less meds. He knows I stim well and says he's got a good protocol for me involving a much less intense drug regimen. All I will say at this point is, sign me up.

I did also ask about whether he thought we could try clomid/IUI's. We never went down that route because he felt it was more expedient and less expensive to go straight to IVF. I have a problem with my right tube (possible scar tissue from appendectomy) which effectively leaves me with only the left side in full function in terms of eggs likely making their way down the tubes. To increase chances in that respect would mean laparoscopy on the right. That, coupled with my propensity for growing cysts (which would mean postponement after postponement) all combines to make IVF the better option. This seems logical to me, though I am sure there could be other opinions.

Hubs and I are pleased to be starting this next FET chance so quickly. As happens to many of us after IF struggles and unsuccessful cycles, we're not too crazily optimistic but are hopeful and measured. I feel calmer and healthier than I have in a long time. I can't explain precisely why, other than the fact that I am growing from this intense and difficult experience and there are opportunities to be had. Meditation and therapy are helping in ways I could not have predicted. And my husband. Oh you guys, my husband. He has been so wonderful and supportive and balanced throughout all of this. I told him today that I am falling more in love with him through all of this. And it's true. Hidden gifts.

Monday, September 18, 2006

FET #1 Officially Negative

Just got the call. Beta was negative. Thanks for all your hopeful support, I really appreciate it, guys. I wish I could report different results. I believe that I will someday do just that. Tell me now all your stories of failure(s) in your past and babies you have now... each of these stories is a gleaming gem for me. What made you not give up? [addendum: I realize that most people with these examples aren't necessarily reading us any more...]

I know this is going to sound strange, but I am ok. Really, truly ok. It seems weird after kinda NOT being ok during certain lengths of time during the past 4 or 5 months (depression/anxiety). I don't wanna speak too soon, but I think all the work I've been doing with therapy and meditation and such is really beginning to take hold. The last couple days since getting the negative HPT at 12 and 13dp5dt could have been extremely dark. But you know what? It doesn't have to be that way.

I am not saying this isn't hard, I'm just saying that the bottom of my stomach is not falling out. I don't feel hopeless or overwhelmed. I can put this behind me. And I can begin right now. The news is painful, but the suffering is optional.

I have an appointment for Friday with the RE to discuss next steps, which I believe will be our second FET. We've got two freezies left - one is excellent quality, the other is just slightly less in grade. After that, if need be, we will try IVF again. But one step at a time.

I am interested in a non-medicated, natural cycle and wonder if my RE will go for it. I am a cyst grower, so we might not be able to do it, but I sure don't like the idea of going on Lupron again. Not so great for me mentally - like many of these drugs.

How long did it take after stopping Estrace and micronized progesterone for your period to come?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Not lookin' good

I am 12dp5dt. We're still away from home on vacation, and today I jumped into a store, grabbed an e.p.t. and peed. Negative. It was not first morning urine (big glass of juice maybe 3 hours before), but at this point it should not matter. Beta is in 2 days.

I am disapointed but so far doing ok. It's been a weird couple of weeks. Did not feel anything unusual until about 7dp5dt when I started getting very mild cramps and nipples stinging, especially at night. Breasts seemed bigger. No spotting at all, no bleeding.

I had the nipple twinges and mild cramps on and off until about 11dp5dt when those two "symptoms" suddenly stopped. I suppose I still have the occasional twinge, but really, it even seems like my breasts shrunk back down a little.

I had a little wild hope that maybe I was preg with more than one and a multiple was dropping off, therefore causing a drop in symptoms... but now I am pretty sure it's a done deal.

I will test tomorrow morning with first morning urine with the other stick that came in the pack. But tomorrow will be 13dp5dt (equivalent to 18dpo) and I should be obviously positive even on a crap-ass HPT by now. Beta is on Monday AM. At least I will be prepared for the inevitable. Need to make sure there is no ectopic and all that.

The hard thing is that I want to stop taking the progesterone and estrogen so that my period will come. But on the tiniest chance that there is still any hope, I can't really do that until the beta result.

Send your "Negative HPT but positive beta" miracle stories now... but know that I am currently disappointed but hanging strong. If I can remain so, this will be a victory either way.

Monday, September 04, 2006

They're In

Here they are, as named by Hubs: Larry, Moe and Curly...

Today we did the Frozen Embryo Transfer and everything went great. All three of the 5-day embies survived the thaw. Two re-expanded beautifully and the third sort lagged behind but was still viable. So after consultation about stats, we decided to replace all three into Utie, with endometrial lining measuring in at around 11mm which is a fine thickness. Good ol' Utie!

I am on bed rest today (happily typing from bed ; ) Feeling relaxed and as you guys know by now about me, measured and hopeful. Even if we wind up getting a + pregnancy test a couple weeks from now, there will still be many hurdles to jump.

Some good news is that we do have 2 additional frozen blastocysts for another FET attempt later on. This is quite a nice bonus.

The procedure itself today was, dare I say it, rather enjoyable! I did take a Valium (why the hell not?! It resulted in some fine napping this afternoon) and got relaxing acupuncture before and after. I have a challenging retrovrted uterus so my RE had to use a special catheter that basically navigates around a sharp curve in my cervix. He is extremely skilled and there was no problem.

It was really an emotionally intense moment at that time. 6 people in the room total: the doc, me, Hubs, the abdominal ultrasound tech, the embryologist and the nurse practitioner who has been really supportive and helpful. As the embies were transferred in, there was... how do I explain it... well, I am not traditionally religious, but let's just say the spirit of the universe, the spirit of the possibility of new life, was present. More than one person wiped away a tear and uttered his or her own invocation of hope - in a very professional manner. It was perfect.

And in a few days we take off for vacation. Other than not lifting heavy suitcases, I plan to enjoy myself thoroughly and think about all of this as little as possible - for it does not serve any purpose. We're scheduled for the first beta the day after we return - a full 4 days after they normally do it. I don't think I'll pee on a stick prematurely, though I cannot promise.

Oh! and by the way, you know how I am always talking about hormone manipulation (the BCPs, the Lupron, etc) and the effect all of it has on me in terms of depression/anxiety? Well, listen to this - ever since I started on the micronized progesterone vag poppers, I feel like a new person. No joke. The progesterone seems to have literally shaved off any edge of chemical anxiety. I think I just discovered something very valuable. You KNOW i will be seeing a neuro-endocrinologist in the future with some questions!

Will post again around Sept 18 or 19. In the meantime, reading you.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Here we go...

Thanks for cheering Utie on - it seems to have worked! (Never unerestimate the power of a good old-fashioned pep cheer across the internet.) Got examined today and endometrial thickness is at a 10.46mm which is good to go. As of tomorrow I cut back to 2mg 2xday of Estrace and begin vaginal micronized progesterone 200mg 3xday.

Our Frozen Embryo Transfer of two 5-day blastocysts is scheduled for Monday (Labor day - would be nice if that eventually turns out to be ironic) at 10AM. Acupuncture session directly before and directly afterwards while lying on the same table.

I'll catch up with you lovelies during the bedrest days and will tell you how it went. Oh, and the Lupron side effects do seem to be lessening somewhat. Grateful. Living in the present over here and comfortably on the middle path. I wish you all the same.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Utie is on the Varsity Team!

I wasn't sure how Utie would do, but turns out she's not on the JV team, she made varsity. Measured in this morning with a 7.7mm thickness after 8 days on Estrace (2mg 2x day). We're definitely only in pre-season here, folks, but it look as if Utie will not be a bench-warmer this cycle. Now we start 2mg 3x day for the next 5 days.

And get this freaky detail - because the RE took a while in getting into the room to check me out, my fave sonographer had the wand in me for a while. So for lack of anything else to do while waiting, we counted antral follicles. I had 7 on my left and about 16 on the Right. 16! WTF? When we did IVF retrieval I only had 8 antrals on that side. Maybe we'll put Righty on the team next season if this FET doesn't bring us the championship.

But back to the present. Today was my last shot of Lupron. And I hereby pronounce Lupron to be The Suckiest IVF Drug In My Experience Thus Far. Don't get me wrong, I am glad that it prevented me from growing a cyst, and successfully shut down my cycle, but the side effects suck ass. About three days ago I began having chemical depression dips that are so strong they even wake me up at night. Thankfully, they don't seem to happen much in the daytime, but the further we get from when the shot was administered each day (around 8AM), the dips are really intense. The nurse practitioner at the clinic told me it could take up to 10 days for me to get back to normal. Ugh. I'm hoping it'll be a lot shorter.

This drug shuts down the pituitary gland's release of FSH and LH. But the pituitary is also responsible for lots of other things... like endorphins, dopamine, CRH... all hormones that have a direct relation to mood, anxiety, depression, etc. I am COMPLETELY uneducated (except for the PhD from Google University, as they say) so I don't really understand it beyond reading on the internet. I don't know how Lupron would mess with other pituitary functions. But I do understand that depression, regardless of duration or cause, SUCKS. And I wish the docs and the Lupron people were more upfront about it.

Has anyone else experienced these sort of symptoms while on Lupron or other GnRH agonist? And if so, how long did it take you to normalize after going off the medication?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Time to get Thick, y'all. Mmm sayin'?

Got scanned this morning... still cyst-free after 10 days on 20units Lupron.

Tomorrow I cut the Lupron in half and begin Estrace (2mg 2x day).

I just ended a 5-day menstrual period and endometrium is currently measuring .48mm. We're aiming for 8-13mm. And since my name is Ut R Us I sure hope I can step up. C'mon Utie, you can do it. Let's go Utie, Let's go (clap clap)! C'mon everybody... LET'S GO UTIE, LET'S GO (clap clap)! (I'm laughing thinking of you cheering for Utie out there in cyberland :)

We've scheduled a trip to the E coast during the 2WW (just after the bed-rest days) - assuming we GET to the 2WW, that is. Beach, family and fun. It's my way of insisting on living life and having fertility projects be only a PART of it. We are arriving back home AFTER the traditional scheduled beta day. So either I will get a period or I'll go get the beta when I'm back from vacation. Right now I am completely fine with that. What will be will be. At that time and after that time.

Long way to go before then, though. So... I continue to practice "hope but no expectations." And I have started to go to regular Zen meditation sittings and sit daily on my own. That combined with talking with my therapist each week is really helping with perspective.

I hope you're all doing great.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

And the Verdict Is...

Isn't the word cyst funny when you look at it for a while? Cyst... cyst... cyst. Ha! Ha ha ha!

"Gee," you may be thinking, "UtRus sure is chipper today. Wonder what's with her?"

I'll tell you what's with me...

I am CYST FREE as of this morning's wanding. That's right, completely CYSTLESS! The Yasmin BCP did what it was supposed to do.

And it's a good thing too, because I am telling you guys, monophasic birth control pills SUCK for me. You know that little warning that they may cause depression (but usually don't in most people)? Well they sure as all hell do in me. The first week on them was awful. It's like a veil came down about 3-4 hours after I took the pill each day, causing nasty depression. Add to that dizziness and inability to concentrate. However, I am very happy to report that it's been much better during the last few days (day 7-10). My body is adjusting to it.

Okay, so what this means is that I actually have a FET protocol.

*** Pause... just to enjoy the feeling of wheels grabbing road instead of spinning and going nowhere. ***

Ok, so I am on the Yasmin BCP for 4 more days (scheduling thing) and then it looks like this:

the supression part
- Lupron 20 units for 10 days (BCPs to be ceased after the first 3 Lupron days)

the 28-day cycle part
- Lupron 10 units & Estrace 2mg 2xday for 9 days
- Estrace 2mg 3xday for 5 days
- Estrace 2mg 2xday & micronized progesterone 200mg 2xday for 14 days
-> FET projected for day 19 of this 28-day cycle (we've got 5-day old blasts)

I am very glad my RE mentioned to me that some people can actually grow cysts while on Lupron. I tend to think that if anyone can do it, I can! It would have been a blow to think I was "home free" from here and then be surprised. So, I am hopeful that I won't grow one, but no expectations.


This week I found out that my first cousin has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She is 39 years old and had her first child 18 months ago.

If you are age 35 or older and are not pregnant right now and have never done so, GO GET A MAMMOGRAM. Many of us will (hopefully) be pregnant and/or breastfeeding in the years to come and you cannot get screened during this time. (Well, there are ways of doing it safely if there's a detectable problem while you're pregnant, but not just for pre-emptive purposes).

I just went and had my first one yesterday and already got the results today. Thankfully normal. But this taught me a lesson. We're not "too young" and none of us are exempt from the possibility of getting this disease. If caught early, breast cancer has an extremely good survival rate.

Please take care of yourself. You deserve it.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Let it ride on Righty!

Don't you know it. AF came 3 days ago (in the end it was a 32 day cycle) and so I went in to my RE today. I have a nice 15mm cyst on the right. I wish a person could bet on ovarian cyst development like you can bet on race horses...

"I'll take a daily double on Lefty and let it ride on Righty for the win!"

Imagine the glory and riches! People would come from far and wide to watch me grow a cyst and then predict its exact measurement just before a wanding!

Ok, so I am not even let down about it this time. I am so used to delays. 'Scuse my French, but fuck if I'm going to let this make me feel bad. Here's the plan: going on Yasmin BCP for 10 days, trying to quiet down this cyst. If it works, we go immediately into FET #1 at that time. If the cyst is still there, it's Lupron time.

Note: I have tried Trivora (Triphasil) BCP twice, and it does NOTHING to supress cysts. But that one is a tri-phasic low dose pill and I remember reading somewhere that this type of pill is basically useless for this particular purpose. I wish I could find the study again. I saw my RE consulting with another doc this time (a gyno) and maybe that's why we're going with the Yasmin.

Yasmin is mono-phasic and each pill contains 3mg drospirenone (a progestin) and .03mg ethinyl estradiol (an estrogen). My only hope is that it does not cause any depression in me. Which happened a while ago on Mircette.

BTW, what does a FET cycle with Lupron look like? Can anyone give me a basic idea?

Hang with me, girls. I was hoping to begin the FET cycle officially today, but nope, not yet. In the meantime, I am reading you!

Friday, July 21, 2006

How Long Did it Take You?

Hey gals, I have a question...

How long did it take you to get your period the cycle AFTER IVF? That is to say, assuming you did not get pregnant. I am talking not about the period that you get to END the IVF cycle, but the one following.

I have had a very strange cycle. I think it's anovulatory (no ovulation) because I've had no signs of ovulation, and I usualy have plenty of signs in mid-cycle (abundant CM, temp rise, LH surge, you know the drill). And I don't feel the usual signs of impending period. BBs have remained small like at beginning of cycle, no cramps, no bloat. I am now CD30 (2 days late) and seem to be stuck in limbo. And no, I am not pregnant.

Thoughts? Experiences?

(warning, gonna speak frankly here...) Ok, so now it's CD32 and I have just experienced 2 days of MAJOR abundant CM. I'm talking globs. Had a little bit of bleeding this morning but not enough to appear on a pad, and now it's totally stopped. I tested LH yesterday (dark but not positive) and today (lighter), so if there was a surge I might have missed it. Yesterday saliva was very clearly ferning (meaning high estrogen), not ferning today. Call me crazy, but did I just ovulate on CD32? Have not been temping, so no info there.

I have read that a little bleeding during ovulation is not abnormal after long follicular phases. Again - anyone? Most certainly this is the first time this has ever happened to me.

(note to Bea, who commented earlier: if I'm right and this luteal phase is normal, I will also have a 46 day cycle on this first "unmanipulated" cycle after IVF! Or maybe my period is on its way and will be here in a day or two. We'll see.)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Taking the Long Way 'Round

AF arrived two days ago and a brand new cycle has begun. We continue down the long road towards Frozen Embryo Transfer #1, with the weird fact of never having tried a fresh transfer from IVF #1. We've got five "excellent-quality" blastocysts frozen in batches of two, two and one. For this I am grateful.

It's been a crazy couple of weeks. I've been to the internal medicine doc, had a Holter monitor attached for 24 hours, did a Pulmonary Function Test, and a 2D Echocardiogram (ultrasound) of my ticker. All these tests have, so far, come back normal.

I have had some intermittant chest pains, however. So the RE wants to make absolutely sure I do not have some clotting issues (which would mean, perhaps, tiny embollisms that could be undetectable on tests that scan the larger vessels). Thing is, we can't do the bloodwork that tests for clotting issues until I wait out a full "natural" menstrual cycle for all the IVF hormones to clear. There's still too much stuff in my system that could easily skew the results.

How long DOES it take for my body to "go back to normal" after a retrieval cycle? I have noticed that my bbs are still big and haven't reduced the way they normally do by CD3. Anyone?

Admittedly, I've had some nasty heartburn (ouch!) since the ER incident - which, ironically, seems like it may have actually been caused by the chalky antiseptic stuff they gave me to drink in the ER to TEST for esophogeal issues. The heartburn seemed to begin just after that! But I could be totally wrong. And I digress. The chest pains that caused me to go to the ER in the first place were different - more to the right and left - sharper, almost itchy in nature. But apparently heartburn can cause some pretty weird chest pains that can even go up into the neck and down arms. And for sure heartburn can be caused by all the hormones. Talk to a pregnant lady to confirm that one.

So, though I am not stoked about WAITING some more... priorities are most certainly in order over here. I don't even care all that much that we didn't do the fresh transfer. Basically, getting pregnant fell WAY down in the priority line when I was scared there was something really wrong with my health. I'm still waiting for the all-clear, but feeling confident that it's nothing too drastic.

Regarding OHSS... My mild case went something like this: discomfort began 3 nights after retrieval. Was pretty uncomfortable for 2-3 days, with the worst couple hours being right after a vag ultrasound to check me out. Then, most of the swelling seemed to go down the couple days following that. Discomfort would flare up sometimes in the evenings - much better if I was lying flat (less pressure on the ovaries?) I kept drinking Smartwater - making sure to have 8oz per hour. (You CAN actually get really sick from over-hydrating, so be careful, girls.) I feel very lucky I didn't get a worse case. I can't believe how brave you women are who get a bad case of OHSS and actually do IVF again. I don't know if I could do that.

Ok, so it might be a little while until I post, since I'll be like a REGULAR PERSON this month, not even on BCPs! That's actually kinda cool.

I am thinking of all of you out there and wishing huge amounts of Summer Solstice luck to those of you cycling now. I'll hopefully be joining you for FET#1 within the next couple months.

I leave you with this. As my therapist so aptly suggested: "See what happens if you concentrate on having hope instead of forming expectations."

Not sure if this speaks to you, but it sure makes sense to me.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Rocky Road Detour

Today we did not do transfer. Here's the story in a nutshell: as you know, I was dealing with a mild case of OHSS. Well, yesterday at about 7PM, I had a sharp chest pain. It was shocking and really hurt. But then it went away.

Now, I had had pains in my legs all week AND my Hubs had just given me a leg massage... so this worried me. I was concerned about a PE (pulmonary embolism) - that's a blod clot that can move from an extremity up into the lungs and beyond. Can be fatal, so no messing around here. And estrogen therapy is a big risk factor. God knows I have enough estrogen in my system right about now.

I called my RE and he told me to head straight to the ER, that it was a good sign that the pain had passed, I had no shortness of breath, no dizziness. But just to be prudent it was the right thing to do. So I did. Or, rather, we did.

Spent all night in the ER getting evaluated with various tests and scans, thankfully everything came back negative for PE. Then I started having some chest tightness and burning. I still have it now. We are fairly sure it's a nasty case of heartburn or espohogeal spasm. Ouch. Pepcid not helping. Anyone experience this during IVF?? (I am going to my internist tomorrow to be further evaluated.)

The biggest surprise was when my RE walked in to the emergency room at 11:30 at night just to check on me. He does NOT live close by and he gets up at like 5AM. Of course I had spoken to him on the phone, but I was not expecting this. You should have seen Hubs' face. He was really touched.

We talked about whether we should or should not transfer today. We elected not to. I had just had a dose of radiation and was injected with dye (from the CT scan) and I was tired and it just seemed like a poor idea. I love my RE. He is prudent. He wants me to get pregnant, but he has his priorities in order.

So, this morning we found out that all of our embies have survived until day 5 - so far we've frozen 4 fully-developed, excellent quality blastocysts (in 2 batches of 2) and they're giving the remaining three a little more time to develop before freezing them as well (hopefully they will make it). This is really great news, and makes the fact that we're not doing a fresh transfer a lot easier. We still have a chance(s) if they can survive the freeze and thaw.

Anyone out there ever get preg from FET? Now would be a good time to encourage me regarding this. ;)

Monday, June 12, 2006

OHSS of the Mild Variety

Well, I wasn't supposed to go in for a check-up today but I did. Because I've been feeling some pain in the abdomen and lower back and quite bloated along with some kind of leg cramps/leg pains.

Got wanded by the RE himself and diagnosed with a mild case of OHSS. Nothing original, as you all know, but a little disconcerting and scary if you are a medical paranoid like me. (Man, I'm gonna be a real treat for whoever is my doc if I do ever get pregnant.) Upon ultrasound: ovaries are a bit swolen, and I have some fluid in the abdomen. Blood pressure was normal, urine normal, pulse a bit racy at 90. (But it's back down to 68 now, so maybe I was just freaking and didn't know it? The heart sometimes has to work extra hard when there is an imbalance with the body fluids.)

So far it's not too bad, though I have to say, when I got back in the car right after the vag ultrasound, I stared to feel quite sick - nauseated and my scalp was kinda tight and tingly - I was dizzy. I wonder if palpating the ovaries with the wand squished out some more fluid to make me feel ugh? But I made it home and after about half an hour on the couch felt much better.

I admit I was a little surprised in that after all my research and blah blah blah, I somehow missed the fact that OHSS often starts 4-5 days AFTER RETRIEVAL even though the last injection was ages ago. I kinda thought that if it hadn't happened already (like during stims) that I was in the clear. Dum dum!

Of course I am:

1) drinking fluids - Smart Water (which you can get at Trader Joe's for cheap!) which is water with added electrolytes

2)trying to keep moving/walking around because if we do transfer tomorrow I will be bed resting. One rare but serious complication can be blod clots if one gets too dehydrated, and it's good not to sit/lay in one position too long.

3) continuing with my 81mg baby aspirin for same reason

4) my awesome acupuncturist suggested lymphatic system massage on my legs. you massage the inside of the legs starting with the big toe all the way up to the groin, then massage back down on the outside of the leg from the hip to the little toe. will it help? I dunno, but feels pretty good!

So, the plan from here is to go in to the clinic tomorrow at 7AM and we will decide then whether or not to transfer or freeze everything. OHSS can be exacerbated by a pregnancy, of course, so that's a little scary. But freezing all the blasts is not the optimal thing to do on the TTC front. So, we'll see.

Ok girls, need your input here. Who has been through this? Anyone have similar experience of feeling bad after an exam and then better later? Any additional tips for feeling better/getting better (aside from getting Aunt Flo, thankyouverymuch)? Anyone have a mild case, then got preg and it DIDN'T get worse? Please, though, go easy on me - no scary stories. I can't take that right now. And I think I already know too much.

Thanks for your support and good wishes and stuff. You do know how much it helps, right?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Quietly Dividing

Unless something changes, it looks like we're heading towards a 5-day transfer. My RE called this morning with the following news:

5 out of 6 of the embies that fertilized right away are Excellent quality (Grade 1) at the 6-8 cell stage. The other 1 out of those 6 is of VeryVery Good quality (Grade 1.5) at the 6-8 cell stage. Our late-bloomer is looking good but is still behind the others at 2-4 cells.

We are scheduled for a transfer of 2 blastocysts on Tuesday morning.

Not all of our embryos are statistically likely to make it to blast stage, so we might lose a few, but at this point (due to the good quality) it looks like we'll have enough to freeze for at least one FET. That would be really nice.

There's a lot of sensitive cell-division action that these embryos have to go through in the next couple days. They don't even check the embryos on Day 4 because they don't want to disturb them at all. Next, they'll be heading towards the compacted morula stage (16-32 cells), which I see as a kind of teenage phase - things can be kinda rough in there until they reach blastocyst.

So I am keeping calm and gentle thoughts while biology does its thing. Just think, we were all compacted morulas once. ;)

Friday, June 09, 2006

The First Phone Call

Egg retrieval was yesterday. Things went well. I got the same super anesthesiologist as I had for my cyst aspiration. Man, that guy is good. No "hangover" or grogginess afterwards, and the pain management (for whatever could be expected) has been perfect.

Hubs did his important part of the deal at home right before we left. "Oh man, I hope I got enough out," was his comment upon handing the cup over to me to keep warm. I want to shout out to the guys in our lives - they have their own pressures within all this. Props to the studs who have to do this on command at 5:30 in the morning while we "wait" on them to go have a surgical procedure. Seriously. All jokes aside, it takes a good amount of mind control and focus. I can tell you that that's the LAST thing I would want to do at that moment.

Anyway, my RE got 10 eggies out, and his comment to us a little later after I woke up a bit more in recovery was that they were excellent quality eggs. He said at that time that we were aiming at a 5-day transfer if everything continues to go well. Interesting. I didn't know they could examine the eggs alone and right away know they look good. But I'll take that. No complaints here.

Yesterday I napped and generally took it easy. My lower abdomen felt a little sore but not too bad, especially if I was lying down and taking the pressure off. Those ovaries went through a lot yesterday. Did you know that the way they aspirate the follicles on the far side of the ovary (the side furthest away from the vaginal canal where the ultasound-guided needle is) is by going RIGHT THROUGH THE OVARY? Dang. Sorry I asked.

Now it's about 25 hours since oocite retrieval. About an hour ago we got a phone call - the first of many we'll receive in the next couple days. It looks like 6 have fertilized for sure and there are 3 more that still look like they may fertilize. It's still pretty early in this part of the process. They say 60 to 80 percent of those eggs that show the first signs of fertilization will actually go on to be viable. So hopefully 1 or 2 of those questionable 3 will pull on through. If not, 6 is good.

Tomorrow we'll get another call, telling us whether we're likely to replace on Sunday (day 3) or Tuesday (day 5). In the meantime, I am so grateful that some eggs fertilized. This is a big stop along this road trip. This means that our "stuff" works together. This means that my eggs are not fried (at least as we can tell thus far). That Hubs' sperm can get in there and make things happen. This means that if this cycle does not wield a pregnancy (or a pregnancy that works) that we can try again. That surrogacy is a possibility. That IVF can potentially eventually work for us.

I will never consider this first IVF a "failed" cycle, even if we don't get pregnant. We've gained so much out of it already. This is important to those of us who are Unexplained. It gives us some answers - or I should say - eliminates some of the worst case scenarios.

Now, back in the metaphorical car (a hybrid, of course ;) ... and onward.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Trigger Mode

I shot the hCG trigger (10,000 USP units) last night at 7:45PM. It was no problem - I was allowed to give it sub-cutaneously in the thigh, not intramuscular, so it was pretty much on par with all the other pokes.

Hubs said from the other room, "Wait! Don't do it without me - I want to witness it." Fine with me - I thought that was cute of him. He was there for the initial injection lesson and first shots and since then, I've been taking care of all my injections without a "witness." The way I look at it, the fewer people in our little family who are wrapped up with the daily details, the better. He is sensitive and concerned and perfectly involved, but he's also really happy and not obsessed with this project. I feel this benefits both of us.

Note to self: In the past few hours I have felt really tired and bbs very sore. Makes sense with the hCG. I just want to remind myself that "symptoms" during an IVF cycle are pretty much a bogus indicator of anything. And hey, does anyone know: is 10,000 USP units a lot of hCG? If I didn't get nauseated at all as a reaction to this injection, can we assume that I would not show any nausea at an early pregnancy amount of less than 10,000 USP?

Retrieval is tomorrow. We have to be there at 6:15AM, and Hubs has to do his business (or as he so politely says it, "play the baloney banjo") right before we take off in the car. I am to keep it warm on the short drive. The nurse suggested placing it in my cleavage, until I pointed out that ... um... I don't actually HAVE a cleavage, what with my tremendous A-cups. We had a good laugh over that. Between the thighs will do. Hubs can drive.

I'll update tomorrow or Friday. Hey SuperWomen, think good retrieval and fertilization thoughts for me, will ya? Yet another important stop down this long road.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Checking the Scenery Along the Way

Still truckin' along. Had my Day 7 examination today. The follicles are still doing their thing:

now 5 worth counting on the right ovary, ranging from 19 to 9 (average is 15)

now 9 worth counting on the left ovary, ranging from 20 to 12 (average is 16)

I forgot to get my E2 number from last time, but they drew blood again today, so I know it's being carfully monitored. Endometrium thickness was 8.9-ish.

Follistim has been reduced by half to 100 IU for tonight and tomorrow night (extra day added on). Tomorrow will be my last injections of Ganirelix, Lupron, and Repronex - which has also been reduced by half to 75 IU.

Tomorrow night I shoot the hCG trigger at 7:45PM and you know that can only mean one thing... retrieval is scheduled for Thursday morning bright and early. Hopefully more of the follicles will plump up and mature to where they need to be - around 20. My RE seems pleased with progress so far.

Physically I feel pretty much normal. Maybe a bit tired but my gut's feeling good and I am thankful. Also, I think maybe the estrogen patches are having a calming effect, mentally. Or perhaps I am inventing this! But I feel pretty chill. And chill is good. Another reason for feeling relaxed is...


A few hours after my RE checkup, I went for an appointment with the acupuncturist who will be supporting me during my embryo replacement - before and after. (My regular acupuncturist will unfortunately be out of town, but it's all working out.) My "substitute" is really good and I had a nice session with her today. She works out of part of the office where my RE is located, so I saw him when I was coming out and he spontaneously gave me a hug. It was cool. He's a great doc and I know he hopes the best for me - for all his patients. Nothing wrong with a human touch in my book.

Anyhow, I asked the "substitute" actupuncturist to use bigger needles on me next time. She used really thin ones this time because it was my first session with her and she likes to go easy on people at first. But I told her that I am used to bigger needles and that she could use bigger ones during the replacement. Holy crap. I think I'm getting addicted to things being stuck in me. Seriously. It feels good. (Maybe I should report this to my therapist.)

Saturday, June 03, 2006

A Little Further Down the Road

Today is my 5th day of stims (Repronex 150 IU and Follistim 200 IU) and I added my Ganirelix (250 - not sure of the unit of measurement on this one, looks like a funky "u" - Thalia, set me striaght if you're reading :) and Luveris (75 IU). Also stuck on some estrogen patches (.1 mg one on each butt cheek).

It sounds like a lot of action, but really it's 2 injections in the AM (the Luveris gets mixed in with the Repronex and then the Ganirelix is a pre-filled syringe) and the Follistim pen in the PM. Patches, of course, are cake. LOL!

Here is my follie report as of this morning:

4 worth counting on the right ovary, ranging from 15 to 11 (most are about 13)
8 worth counting on the left ovary, ranging from 17 to 6 (most are about 14)

This is interesting because when I was checked at Day 3 of stims, I only had 3 on the right and 6 on the left. I was under the impression that what was developing at that time would continue to grow but that it was unlikely that anything else would ripen on this cycle. Even the RE seemed pleasantly surprised. Looks like a few extra follies have decided to join the party. We'll see.

Blood was drawn for E2 but I don't know the results yet. Endometrium measuring 8.6 (I think that's right. I caught the number on the ultrasound screen, I forgot to ask for a printout of that one.

Physically, I felt nothing until last night. Now, I have some fullness in the lower abdomen and some twinges in the ovaries. i would definitely not call it pain, just twinges. In fact, since you members of the Royal Court know I am the Empress of Cysts... I must say, the sensations in the ovaries are very similar to what I feel pretty much every month when I have a whopper brewing. Only this time it's in both ovaries and I feel like it's warranted.

Mentally, I have had an easier time as of late. Seeing my therapist weekly. Seeing my acupuncturist weekly. Taking good care of myself. I take no good days for granted and am thus far balanced and measured in my thoughts about this cycle. Already I feel we're gaining and gathering information. We know I respond nicely to stims and that follicles are developing. This is one good, solid step down this long, long road. From here, who knows until we get there?

One more check-up on Day 7 of stims (Monday) and if everything is going as projected, trigger will likely be on Day 8 (Tuesday) and retrieval on Thursday.

Monday, May 29, 2006

My Protocol

First of all, RIP cyst. You have hereby been banished from the Queendom... ie: aspirated. Procedure was 100% painless. Felt a little tired after, which is to be expected, but no nausea or anything. I would say the one nice thing about having gone through this is that it's the exact same procedure for retrieval, so I'll know what to expect. Fingers crossed that I get the same anesthesiologist for my retrieval day. He did a good job.

Guess what guys? I HAVE FINALLY STARTED IVF #1! Can you friggin' believe it? I know there's a long, (bumpy) road ahead but I've finally stepped onto that road and started walking. I did my first injections about 1/2 hour after the procedure this morning with nurse N instructing and Hubs observing so that he could remind me later of any details I might have been too fuzzy to absorb.

I have to say, I had zero hesitation. I was so damn happy to finally be getting started I just stuck the needles right in. It didn't hurt at all. One in the abdomen, one in the outer thigh. Short, thin little subcutaneous needles. It was SO not dramatic. (Okay, I WAS still a little bit on drugs, so I'll give you that, but seriously, for those of you who haven't been initiated yet: it is not nearly as big a deal as you might imagine. Unfounded fear is the biggest problem with the injection stuff. And I count myself in that club! Read this post to see my initial reaction to the box of drugs and syringes when I first received them back in March.)

Here is my basic protocol, of course with the understanding that the stim days could be extended or shortened and that med amounts could change (I don't know the precise IUs yet for anything else - will update).

CD1-CD7: Repronex in AM (150 IU FSH/150 IU LH), Follistim in PM (200 IU follitropin beta)
CD5: Repronex, Ganirilix (antagon), Luveris (lutropin alfa), Estrogen patch
CD6: Ganirilix, Luveris
CD7: Ganirilix, Luveris, change Estrogen patch
CD8: Ganirilix, Luveris, hCG Trigger
CD9: change Estrogen patch
CD10: retrieval

And I'm not aware of my exact antral follicle count, but it's something around 7-ish on each ovary. I hope they like to party... (addendum: as Bea said in the comments, "just hard enough.")

Empress of Cysts!

Do not worry my royal courtesans. I have not forsaken you. It is I, the Queen of Postponement, now officially adding to my title: Empress of Cysts!

Just got back from the RE to find that after 18 days on BCPs the very same cyst that postponed us last month has tripled in size. It's a whopper, as they say in the common language. This is only to be expected for a monarch of my veneration and status.

The weird (good) thing is that it's not bothering me at all - pysically at least. However, it might very well explain some of my increased anxiety/depressive feelings this past month. If this puppy is producing lots of hormones it would be the answer to a great deal of consternation. I have been working weekly with the Imperial Therapist and feel that I definitely have things I need to work out/adjust in my life, etc. And this is helping! But there seems also to be an element of chemical imbalance that is frustrating. Could this be the answer?

WE WILL FIND OUT! Because I am going in tomorrow morning at 6AM to aspirate the fucker (sorry, that's not very regal of me, but it's either I swear at the cyst or the next nurse who wands me loses her head) and begin stims. Now, of course, it will be tough to decipher whether my mental state improves with the aspiration because I will at the same time begin pumping my body full of Follistim and Repronex. God only knows what these new chems will do. Any chance these drugs will make me feel GOOD? (C'mon people, throw me a line here...)

This was not unexpected, so I am not freaked. Even an Empress doesn't enjoy spending a big wad of money for an extra medical procedure, but at this point, I am ready to do anything to just be able to finally start IVF cycle #1. These months of postponement have been a royal drag.

I'll update tomorrow with tales of anesthesia, aspiration and my magesterial protocol.

ALL RISE! Hear ye hear ye: the Empress is now going to the beach. Later.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Word About Therapy

Hi all! I'm back from the DC/NYC trip and it was super. Tomorrow I will swallow my last BCP and then wait for AF. Then maybe we'll get lucky and I'll have no ovarian cyst, and if I do we'll aspirate it and begin IVF injections next week.

So while I'm waiting to see how all that pans out, I thought I would share what I've been through over the past few weeks.

2 1/2 weeks ago I was sitting at dinner at my favorite sushi restaurant with my Hubs and some very close friends (another couple). In the middle of dinner with no warning, I felt a plunge of depression (or it might be described as a surge of anxiety - I am learning). I felt awful, couldn't finish my delicious meal, went to the bathroom with loose bowels and felt just hopeless. It wasn't that we were talking about anything specific (or were we?) or that I was thinking about anything I particular (or was I?) I just plunged. For the next 3 or 4 days after that, I was feeling bad, but never as bad as that initial plunge, but still bad. Depressed, anxious, hopeless. Most of all, fearful that I would continue to feel this way and not sure I could handle that.

So I went and got help. I got a referral to a coulple of therapists and I went to see one as soon as I could get in. It helped immensely. I have another appointment with her and one with another therapist later this week - they say it is good to see a few people and see who is the best fit.

I suspect that hormones played a part - a big cyst can cause some symptoms, I am told. And when I started the BCPs things got noticably better - but this was in concert with my getting professional help, so it's impossible to tell. But I remain vigilant about hormones and mental health. I remain fearful of injecting myself with the IVF drugs and also fearful of pregnancy and post-partum depressions and their hormonal connections. Part of my work will be dealing with these fears.

The first therapist I met with told me that fertility/IVF issues are second only to dealing with a death when it comes to stress levels. Moreso than a divorce, moreso than losing a job, moreso than other big life changes. (Relatively speaking, of course. Stress is different for everyone with every different situation. But it did put it in perspective.) We had a fruitful first session, and I won't go into grand detail except to say that I cried like a fountain the entire time and it felt great. And during my trip east, I also told my nuclear family about our struggles and about IVF. Reaction was tremendous. Understanding and quiet and centered on how they could support us best. This was a big breakthrough for me.

I am curious about your experiences. You, out there. My IVF/fertility issue friends. I know we often speak of loss, of stress of fear. I have read in your blogs about quite a few panic attacks and depressive episodes. I would really like to hear some positive stories about how you came through all this and felt peace again. Pregancy, baby or not.

If anyone is reading this who is feeling really bad mentally (maybe not all the time, but wish you were doing better), I cannot recommend enough the value of a mental-health professional. These folks seriously know what they're doing, and even though we feel very alone in these dark moments and can't imagine anyone else really understanding how we feel, they will tell you that there is enough similarity in how humans experience anxiety and depression that there are MANY things they can help us do to feel better.

I send you hugs and hope. (I know we sometimes hate hope, but I really don't see the point in living without it.)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Queen of Postponement Has Arrived!

Sound the horns! Raise the standard! Her Majesty is in da house!

This morning I went to my RE, hoping, as you know, to begin IVF #1 but feeling very much abdominally that a cyst would be present and a problem. Well, after a thorough going-over with the Wagina Wand (I'm a Queen, people. It was gold-plated under that latex) it turns out that I was thoroughly and positively correct. Right side, nice and juicy. And THAT is why I reign supreme.

My RE wants to try one more month to get me cyst free. If I show up with a cyst on the next start date (for the 3rd time), he will aspirate it and we will be a go tht same day. And don't think this Monarch of Menses can't grow a cyst on BCP's. I did that last month just for kicks.

I do appreciate my RE's prudence. He offered to aspirate it today and start if we insisted, but he knows this will cost a buch of extra bucks (that we don't have) and it does carry a small risk, as any aspiration/retrieval procedure does. (Don't believe me? Read the last few entries on Beagle's blog to scare yourself shitless regarding punctured bladders.)

So, I am starting birth control pills AGAIN on Sunday and taking them for approximately 18 days. He said we could go as few as 10 days, but I figured this was a sign that I, the Queen, should take advantage of the postponement and go to my Dad's 65th birthday in NYC. So I asked for another week tacked on. I was feeling horribly guilty about skipping the celebration and LYING about the reason to the person I trust the most in the entire world, and this frees me.

Dare I say some things happen for a reason? My guilt mechanism sure as hell feels better. This is almost enough to have me not regret the postponement at all. Weird but true. So seriously, don't waste your comfort and pity on me this time - I may really need it down the road, and god knows some other Queen is needing it much more right now. This time, I would appreciate instead, your wishes of Bon Voyage for my birth-controlled trip to NYC.

So, it's back to hanging about in my royal way and visiting your blogs. I may not post here for a couple weeks, but I am reading you. So many of you have so much going on, I bestow upon you bravery during the storm, and I dispatch my knights to get your backs. (They are female ART Knights, very tough and effective. Do NOT mess.)

Onward, m'ladies.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Eggwhites: Just Another Word for Omelette

Well, my TWW is done but I am still in the nether-region of where the F is AF? I've got the collection of negative pee stix (11DPO, 12DPO, 13DPO, 15DPO), the negative Beta (13DPO), I've got the spotting, now just waiting for the BBT to fall and AF to really get here full-force.

(Before you think I'm a totall kook for peeing on all those sticks, I really did it as a matter of curiosity and information gathering - I would really like to know if I manage to get to some sort of implantation stage even if it doesn't hold on past normal cycle length.)

I have to say it was an interesting TWW. Wasn't really expecting anything (if I were, we probably wouldn't be already scheduled for IVF) but I will admit: I had some very interesting symptoms. I know they can ALL be chalked up to PMS (except for maybe the last weird one) but I was thinking... maybeeeeeee....

C'mon. You know you miss the olden days of Symptoms Without Suppositories (or injections) so what the heck. I'll treat you:

- my small bbs got bigger/denser (always do on 2nd half of cycle) but nipples were puffed out and were stinging a whole lot, especially at night and that was new to me. sometimes itchy-stingy. haven't felt that since I first grew 'em!

- I had light AF type cramping during 6,7,8 DPO. Thought that was nice timing... right?

- I had interesting "twitchy" feelings in the UtRus. Like, you know when you have a muscle twitch in your leg and you can actually see it twitching but you're not consciously moving it? It felt very much like that. happened about 1/2 dozen times per day from 9DPO until 14DPO.

- I was peeing constantly. But I was also really drinking a lot of water, so whatever.

- BBT is currently still high and (spotting notwithstanding) I am 1 day late. Very unusual for me.

- Drumroll please...

- Ok here's the weird one. Started around 8DPO. Oh my god my palms were itching the heck out of me. And the bottoms of my feet. And for about 3 days the nape of my neck/back of my scalp. like UBER itching. Not all at once... a location would just start itching and it would last for about 10 min and fade away. No rashes, no allergies, nothing to be seen. So I figured it was hormonal. Has anyone, ANYONE, had this before - preg or not? Totally weird.

- most of these "symptoms" have abated. funny how they do that after a negative Beta.

And that's it for the fun. Comments and opinions welcome on my retardedness. Amazing what a mindf*ck TTC is in general, no? Take that x 100 for a person going through IVF with all the shots and physical discomforts and money involved... I'm going there next.

Hoping CD1 will be tomorrow so I can get in to the RE by Sat and not have to wait until next week. And hope for no cyst. I always seem to have one present at the end of most cycles (did I tell you I suspect I may have LUF Syndrome? But have never been diagnosed - except for self-diagnosed with my Doctorate from Google University.)

p.s. We ate the remainder of those organic pasteurized eggwhites in a delicious and healthy fritatta! So all was not lost!

UPDATE: It's now April 4 and AF arrived this morning. So we go in for cooter-cam tomorrow AM. I suspect a cyst on the right side (I'm getting pretty good at this cyst thing. I can feel it)... anyone want to wager how big? I am guessing at least 6cm. But this time, unless the RE feels otherwise, I will elect to aspirate instead of wait. if we wait, it's gonna be a crap shoot for me to find a month without a cyst.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

6 Things Meme

Sunny Jenny tagged me with this meme so I'll play. I've been sticking only to the theme at hand here on this blog, but why not take a little break.

So here are...

Six Interesting Things about Me

1) I once read in a dumb women's magazine that if you weren't fat by the age of 30, you'd never be fat. I never forgot that dumb "fact." And I always wonder if I should test the theory with some, you know, delicious treats on a very regular basis. But then I can't bring myself to do it. Ahhh! It's true!

2) At parties I often find myself talking to/playing with the kids instead of interacting with the adults. They're often times more real. And more interesting. And I don't feel shy with them.

3) I stopped consuming all artificial sweeteners about 5 years ago because they scare me. It was after I had a very large diet soda and then tasted a sweet "aftertaste" about 7 hours later. I thought, oh my god, these chemicals cannot be innocuous.

4) I made my close friend promise that if ever I was in a coma she would pluck out my chin hairs regularly so that other people wouldn't see them. (No, I don't have PCOS - it's just a few regular ol' genetic whiskers. Attractive. I know.) I promised to do the same for her. Wherepon she told me I should also pluck her nipple hairs for her.

5) Part of me wishes I would have become a doctor like my dad. It's not a major regret, just a recurring thought. More and more often as I get older and find myself hyper-interested in medical issues and wishing I knew more and had more solid scientific background. My cousin thinks I should go to medical school. (I would be a first-year resident at like, age 45. Not impossible but... also not sane.)

6) I sometimes have creative ideas or am able to solve problems I couldn't solve before, right when I'm waking up. Sometimes I try to stay in that "just waking up" state for an extended time for this reason.

Well, I think everyone's been tagged by now, so I'll just say, grab this meme if you feel like it and tell us about yourself... after all, TTC and IF issues are only part of each of our lives.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Reproductive Semantics

I thought I would bring this very insightful thought from Comment Land onto Front Page. The famous and ever-supportive Soralis brings up a very good point regarding the semantics used in the IRS (and apparently Canadian as well) tax forms. Read the previous post for context.

Soralis Wrote:
I just had to say something about the Fertility Enhancement... I think it is really bad that it's called enhancement, makes people believe that we are improving on something that actually works. (I got a letter from our provincial health minister and she reffered to it as fertility enhancement and said it wasn't covered because it wasn't medically necessary.)

Soralis, you raise an excellent point pertaining to the semantics. It absolutely should be thought of as medically necessary and should be covered by insurance. And now that I think of it, "enhancement"... sort of does imply that it's just making something that works even better - like that messed-up assumption that all IVF folks are TRYING to "get twins" or whatever. (And "enhancement" on its own actually makes me think of breast augmentation or something... hmm...)

That being said, I am a steadfast believer in the power of positive thought. I like to think (of myself and of the world around me) in positive terms rather than negative. That's why the term appealed to me. Of course, I do need some professional scientific expertise to (hopefully) make things happen and plan to use all tools available to me to do it.

But you are so right. We all really should become activists to a certain degree. Speak out, write letters and be heard, like you have done. Fertility issues are so private and so painful, we often want to forget about all of it as soon as we can (regardless of outcome). But perhaps we owe it to our sisters (and the men and women who love them) who will follow us to call for change in health care policy. To not be ashamed and step up. Thank you for (inadvertantly) making me realize I have a responsibility to do something. I'm not quite sure yet what or when, but you've got me thinking.