Sunday, August 30, 2015

What's Next...

First of all I need to apologize for being such a bad blogger.  I haven’t been writing much of anything at all except about our infertility journey and I haven’t done much reading of my fellow bloggers blogs either.  I’ll be honest it’s just been a rough couple of weeks after finding out or IVF cycle failed and then being told we need donor eggs, once again it’s time to reevaluate.  I have been busy trying to figure out what I can do to improve my own egg quality before jumping right in to donor egg IVF, DEIVF going forward. 

I haven’t had the time to even think about a weekend recap or a Friday Favorites for months as I prepared myself for what I thought was going to be the final chapter of our fight against infertility. This last cycle was honestly the biggest letdown of them all because I believed that we had covered every base that we could, we treated every single issue, we transferred 2, etc.  there was no way this wasn't going to work this time.  I was completely wrong about the outcome of the cycle and have been scrambling to figure out what we should do next.  Although I don’t feel as stressed as I was after initially hearing about DEIVF as our possible next step, I have been hitting the interwebs hard trying to come up with a new plan.

Joe and I talked it over and we are certain on one thing: we are NOT ready to give up on my eggs.  My two fresh cycles were so drastically different that I feel like we need to continue to pursue our own embryos before a donor cycle.   The first step in our new plan was calling our old doctor, Dr. G, and setting up an appointment for a frozen cycle.  We have 4 embryos on ice at our previous clinic so the most logical option is to use those first and foremost.  Who is to say that they aren’t any good?  Although 3 of the original 7 have not resulted in a pregnancy, there are 4 left, maybe our baby is in there somewhere!?  I see Dr. G for my initial consultation on September 14th.  I will be cycling early October. 

In the meantime I have started a heavy supplement regimen with the help of one of my blog sponsors, Smita, The Fertility Advisor.  She has had 1 successful IVF cycle so far and is working on a second.   She helped me decide on which supplements would be best for me to take to help improve my egg quality.  These supplements will need to be taken for 90+ days prior to a fresh cycle I decided to start them now and get a jump start with them in case we end up needing to do another fresh cycle.  So far I am on:

The most important of these is the Ubiquinol.  This has shown to provide the best results in improving the quality of eggs.  I’ve been reading the book It Starts with the Egg as well to get a better grasp of the importance of these supplements and how to take them and how they work.  This, along with help from The Fertility Advisor has been a huge help to getting me started on the supplements.  The nice thing about the supplements is they can be taken during a cycle.  CoQ10 for instance, is also used for heart health, there is no reason why it can’t be taken during a cycle or even during pregnancy.

I’ve also got my medical record request forms into my current doctor to be sent to Advanced Fertility Centers of Chicago (Dr. Sherbahn) and Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (Dr. Schoolcraft, who you may recognize from Giuliana & Bill Rancic, that is who they used).  CCRM is the leading fertility clinic in the nation and MANY of my readers and followers recommended that I at least schedule a phone consultation with them.  We have an initial phone consultation with them on September 25th.  I'm not sure that we will pursue more than the phone consult with them, but they might be able to give us some kind of insight on our past treatment as a whole and what they may think the issue is.

I am trying to be as proactive as I can.  I don’t want to wait until we go through 2 frozen cycles and if they both fail, not have a plan.  I want to have all of my options lined up in case we need to move forward. 

I also have some very specific requirements that I will want my next doctor (if we end up needing one) to agree to.  First and foremost is agreeing to the supplements, 2nd is possibly adding Human Growth Hormone to our protocol, 3rd is possible PGS testing of embryos to determine chromosomal abnormalities, 4th is meeting somewhere in the middle about how many eggs should be produced/retrieved.  34 was too many, 10 was not enough.  If I’m going to go through this again, I’d like to see more than 10 because that will increase the chances of more embryos to be fertilized and sent for testing, however, 34 is too many, their quality will decrease and the chances of OHSS will also be high.  Whatever doctor will agree to these terms will be the one I will seek treatment from.

You have to advocate for your own health, I cannot preach that enough.  Now that we have been through this 4 separate times, we know what we want, we know what the outcome of certain types of tests and treatments are, we know the costs—no we are not doctors, but we do our research and we know what we want to try & how far we are willing to go and these are things that I feel like we NEED to have in order to make sure that we are exhausting all avenues in pursuit of our own biological child.

I did get a message from Dr. LdM this week, he said that he is skeptical, but willing to agree to the supplements.  If I can get him on board with the other things then we will go back to him, but we will still also schedule consultations with AFCC & CCRM just to make sure that there aren’t some other options that we should be considering.  I’m always in favor of new ideas and a fresh set of eyes.  If that means we end up seeing a 3rd doctor and doing a 3rd fresh cycle, then so be it.  For now we are not giving up our fight.

Friday, August 28, 2015

My August post for Recombine is up, check out my tips on how I survive infertility! 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

TTC Crate Review

What I’ve really come to love about this community is the sincere love and support that we all share with one another.  I remember doing my first TTC Exchange or received an unexpected card in the mail with words of encouragement and feeling overwhelmed with gratefulness to be part of such an amazing community.  Although infertility sucks, I can’t imagine my life without my TTC sisters and our community.  It’s one of the best things I’ve ever been a part of.  Our tribe is amazing and we always have each other’s backs in many different ways.

As our community continues to grow and evolve, I see some amazing things transpiring out of our own sister’s struggles and creativity.  One of those amazing things are the TTC Crates created by Melissa.  If you’ve ever participated in a TTC Exchange then you already know the concept of these.  Typically a limit of $20-$25 is set and you get paired up with a TTC sister and you purchase “feel good” items like candies, nail polishes, socks, candles, etc.  This is also the concept of the TTC Crate, but Melissa fills up all the crates, you pay the fee, and you get sent an amazing package each month filled with some of the sweetest goodies!

I received the August crate and I love everything in it!  My favorites were the knitted coffee cup sleeve, the scented candle in Love Spell, and the bracelet with my initial on it, but seriously every item is hand chosen and so cute!  There was also a 4-leave clover necklace, some great chapstick, a wonderfully scented bar of soap, pregnancy test strips, cute cards with inspirational quotes on them, and more!  I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of stuff in these crates! 

love love love this dainty little bracelet, classic & cute!

This candle smells just like VS Love Spell, it made my house smell amazing!

I thought this was such a thoughtful piece, it will be perfect for those chilly fall days wrapped around a pumpkin spice latte! Yum!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Worst News I've Ever Received...

I don’t even know where to begin with this.  My heart has shattered into one million pieces and I’m just devastated.  I thought that this appointment was going to turn our journey around, it did, but in a direction I just wasn’t ready to hear at all.  We had our follow up with Dr. LdM on Monday and he informed us that he believes my egg quality is poor and that we need to consider donor eggs (DE).  I’m sure the color quickly drained from my face as my heart hit the floor.  I never thought that I would have an egg quality issue.  Not for one minute did I ever consider that to be the problem.

Our cycle was reviewed by the team and everything about this cycle was perfect except when it came to the embryos.  He said that they were not maturing as they should be and we should’ve had more than 1 that was high grade.  What’s really confusing to me is how did I go from 34 eggs retrieved last cycle, 21 fertilized and 7 make it to 5-day blastocysts and this time have 10 eggs (less medication, hence less eggs) retrieved and none make it to 5 day??  I am more lost and confused than I have ever been.  Did my egg quality really decrease that drastically in one year?  

I am not ready to accept DE.  I cannot fathom looking at my child and having it be MY husbands sperm combined with someone I don’t even know or someone that I do know that had to do my job for me.  It just makes me sick to even consider at this point.  I don't know if I would ever be able to rid myself of the jealousy and resentment that at this point, I know I would feel towards my donor.  I may have to come to terms with all of this if it ends up being our only option, but for right now, DE is out.  The doctor seems to think that the genetic make up of the child is no big deal because without me and my desire to become a mother, the child wouldn’t even exist, but I bet his children are biologically his so I’m not sure he can really understand that. 

I know that there are many amazing women who have done DEIVF and I can’t even begin to comprehend their strength, it’s beyond something I am probably capable of.  I’m not sure it would ever be something I could accept.  I am not ready to give up on my eggs and I still feel like we should explore the other options we have. 

Option number one is to return to our previous clinic where our 4 frozen embryos remain.  They are “good” quality 5-day blastocysts.  I inquired into more detail about what “good” means to them, I want grades and % fragmentation.  I feel as though we should definitely be using these embryos before we were to even consider egg donation.  Who’s to say that these wouldn’t work?  If we went through 2 frozen cycles of 2 embryos transferred and neither of those cycles worked we would have had a total of 9 embryos transferred back & fail, that would be a substantial indication that we need to move forward with another option.

Option number two is to try and improve egg quality.  I asked my previous doctor if we could include a 90 day protocol of DHEA, CoQ10, Melatonin, L ’Arginine, and possibly Human Growth Hormone before starting a fresh cycle with them.  I can’t give up on my eggs without trying to improve their quality first.  I know that he doesn't often agree to anything that doesn't have any scientific backing behind it, but the nice thing is that these are all over the counter supplements (minus the HGH) that I could easily put myself on for 90 days prior to starting another fresh cycle.

Option number three is to look into a new doctor for a 3rd opinion.

Option number four is egg donation--for those of you who aren't familiar with what egg donation is, basically you find a donor based on their looks, interests, etc. and you use their eggs along with your husbands sperm (as long as his sperm doesn't have any issues).  The child would have no biological ties to me, only to my husband & the donor--an extremely hard notion for me to accept.  These cycles can be anywhere between 15k-25k depending on your state and other factors.  Even donors who "gift" their eggs to the recipient have to endure a multitude of physical and psychological testing all paid for by the recipient.  Unfortunately, none of this is covered by insurance and most donors that are provided through an agency receive compensation of around $5,000.  It's a financial nightmare that I'm not sure we would be able to take on in addition to a brand new house payment, car payments, etc. etc. 

This has been a lot to take in.  It was a total shock and it was not something I was prepared to deal with hearing at all.  I want to be hopeful for our frozen embryos, but I also need to begin preparing myself mentally, and financially for the possibility of donor eggs.  Although we aren't ready to give up on my eggs, I still think it's important to start coming to terms with all of the things that donor cycle will entail, especially the part about not having my own biological child.  To some people that is no issue at all, their focus is on becoming a mother and I whole-heartedly agree with that, but if you have kids, or you want kids, imagine how it would feel to be told, "your eggs are not capable of producing a sufficient embryo and you need to use another women's eggs if you ever want children"... for me those words make me feel inadequate as a woman and overwhelmingly jealous of the women who can so easily provide their DNA to our situation.  I could drive myself crazy thinking about the whole thing.  I know that the road to parenthood just got a lot longer for us, but we are not ready to give up this fight and I know that we will do what's best for us in our hearts.  

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Another Failed Cycle...

I never in a million years thought I would be writing this post for a 6th time.  Unfortunately, once you go through so many failures, you’re jaded…you can’t expect a positive because in the last 3 cycles, you haven’t seen one, and the one positive you did see was short-lived.  We are devastated and confused because with SO many things in our favor this cycle, I think we both truly believed it would work, at least up to a certain point. 

In the beginning of my 2ww I felt hopeful, but I lost sight of that hope about a week in and the negativity crept in and took over.  I couldn’t pull myself out it no matter how hard I tried, no matter how many uplifting comments I got on my posts, no matter how much I tried to convince myself it was all possible pregnancy symptoms, I just couldn’t do it.  Then Friday came, and the spotting started, and the typical shoulder pain I experience during my period (I believe it’s a pinched nerve) showed up, the cramping increased, and the moodiness was out of control.  I know my body and I know when my period is coming and this was it.  I knew it was all over but I tried to keep a brave face.  I did not POAS because I didn’t need to, I already knew.

On Monday after I left the hospital for my beta I sent Joe a text to tell him that I wasn’t feeling optimistic at all about this cycle but I didn’t want to say anything before to discourage him.  He said that he felt the same way.  I spent the entire morning crying so much at work that I had to just go home.  I couldn’t focus at all, I just needed to be in my home.  I felt better once I got on my couch, I was able to distract myself and relax with the dog.  Joe got home from work at lunch time and thought the worst had already happened but I told him I just couldn’t take being at work.  The doctor called around 1:30 to hand us the news.  He seemed sincerely sad for us.  I think he was very hopeful for this cycle, but he did say that this isn’t the end for us which is very reassuring.  He said that they reviewed the cycle in its entirety and that they learned some good things and some bad things based on my labs taken throughout the cycle.  He said to call when we are ready and we will meet to discuss his findings and what is next for us.

I feel better knowing there is still a chance for us, but I also know that the end is in sight for us too and it might not be the ending that we had hoped for.  I cannot keep putting myself through this.  Physically, my body can handle it, emotionally, I cannot.   I know that Joe does not want to see me put myself through this again either.  It’s incredibly frustrating for him, I think more so than it is for me because he has to watch the emotions and know there is nothing he can say or do to make the situation better, he is helpless and that has to be hard.  And for me the hard part is knowing that I may never be able to make him a father and myself a mother.  My body cannot perform the basic function that I was created to perform.   No amount of prayers, vibes, positive thoughts, love, or bravery can actually make this happen for us although those are wonderful things that I appreciate and welcome because they help get through the process,  it simply comes down to the science of my body. 

We know that there are other options, surrogacy, adoption, maybe no kids.  I am not quite ready to accept any of those options at this time, but we know that they are there if we ever decided to pursue them.  I have had 3 people offer to be surrogates for us, one of those being my best friend and SIL.  It would mean the world to me if she would do that for us.  I hope that it doesn’t get to that point, but if it does, she is who I would choose.  I am so thankful to all of those who have offered that to us though.  It is a huge commitment and a huge gift to give, one I could never repay. 

We will make an appointment and meet with our doctor soon.  I never thought that we would be doing this for a 5th time, never ever ever, but we might be.  This is the hand we were dealt, this is the journey that we were given.  I’m not sure why it has to be such a struggle, but it is and we are dealing with it as best as we can.  We know that we are blessed in SO MANY ways.  We have great jobs, a beautiful home, and (at least we think) a unique relationship better than either of us could ask for.  We have each other (and our Frankie J) and that should be enough, but for me there is a void that I hope we can fill.  Yes, we built our dream home, isn’t that enough?  But to me, I want to fill that home with a family, I don’t want those extra bedrooms filled with exercise equipment and a computer, I want them filled with toys and clothes and cribs, and I hope with all of my heart that I can have that one day.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Rocksbox Review

I never was really big on wearing a lot of jewelry.  I have a pretty extensive collection of earrings, but other than that, my jewelry-wearing was pretty minimal.  It wasn’t until this year I started to wear more pieces like necklaces and bracelets.  I really like jewelry that has meaning behind it like my mala beads and my rose quartz druzy, but I also like fun statement and layering pieces too. 

When Rocksbox contacted me about trying their subscription I thought it would be a fun way to try some things I might not otherwise try!  If you’re not familiar with Rocksbox, it’s kind of like any other monthly subscription service but they send you really beautiful pieces of designer jewelry like Kendra Scott and Jorgana!  You can “borrow” the pieces for as long as you’d like or you can purchase them for a discounted price.  Once you send the pieces back you don’t want then you can receive a new box.  Pretty sweet right?!

I was really happy with my first box.  I got a Kendra Scott necklace, a Sophie Harper layering necklace, and a pair of Jorgana earrings that are so cute!  I love every piece and it all goes really well together.  I’m not sure if I will be purchasing any of the pieces this time around, but I definitely am impressed with the stylist’s first box of goodies she chose for me.  Great first impression!

One of the best parts is you can choose pieces that you like for your next box.  You can put all different pieces on you Wishlist and then they will send you that piece or one like it in your next box.  If they post a picture on Instagram that you like, all you have to do is leave a comment of #Wishlist and it will be added to your wishlist for next time!  How awesome is that.

This is a pretty sweet deal for only $19 a month.  I literally have over $100 worth of jewelry in my possession right now that I can borrow for as long as I want and who doesn’t love a deal or a discount on a fabulous piece of jewelry you might not otherwise purchase if it was at full price?

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

IVFx4 - 9dp3dt Update

Can you believe I’m already 9pt?! It’s crazy how fast this time is going by.  So many people are curious as to when my beta is (which I’m not sharing the exact date) and if I’m going to POAS and the answer to that is no.  I have never been one to do that, I did one time after a frozen cycle and it was horrible because I did it on a Friday with my beta on a Monday.  It totally ruined my weekend and I refuse to do that again.  Joe doesn’t want me to and honestly, the thought of knowing just makes me so nervous.  
Keeping the positivity up has been more and more challenging every day, the doubt continues to creep in a little more and the negative thoughts start overtaking the mind.  No matter how much you try to convince yourself that this is going to be it, and that everything about this cycle was working in our favor, the doubt just continues to come.  It’s impossible not to be jaded after multiple failed cycles.  But instead of using this post to talk about how I’m feeling like failure, I’m going to use it to recap all the positives about this cycle:

A new doctor with a new perspective has been amazing.  I like Dr. LdM so much and I was so happy that he took the time to diagnose the issue of what is causing us to not have a pregnancy.  We came up with the answer of the missing Beta 3 Integrin protein which he treated me for using progestin for 7 weeks prior to cycling.  He said that this missing protein could be the cause of why I miscarried after my IUI and why none of my other cycles have worked.  I continue to remember that I did have a pregnancy once, very briefly, so it isn’t impossible for me.  Although the highest my beta got was 50, I still remind myself that with that cycle Joe’s sperm and my egg made their own embryo and it implanted very briefly. 

I got to use the Eeva testing which can increase success rates by 23%.  I had two embryos successfully develop into 8-cells and they were put back on day 3, back to their natural incubator where they would hopefully continue to develop into blastocysts.  The Eeva testing has 2 parameters that the embryos must fall into in order to be graded as high.  I had one embryo fall into both parameters so it was graded high, and one embryo fall into one of the two parameters so it was graded low.  The high graded embryo had 0% fragmentation, the low graded embryo had 10% fragmentation.  I’ve read that embryos with up to 25% fragmentation have been known to implant.  We ended up transferring both of these embryos giving us a higher chance of success.

During the transfer, Doc said that the embryos were placed exactly where he likes to see them.  The transfer went smooth with no issues at all.  He said (along w/ the embryologist) that the embryos looked exactly like they should at the time of the transfer.  So far starting on day 3pt I started having some pretty intense cramping, it has subsided for the most part as of today, just a twinge here and there.  I had very sore boobs which have also returned to normal for the most part.  I’ve been increasingly moody these last few days.  My face broke out over the weekend which never happens.  This and the sore boobs I have never experienced before in any cycle.  The cramping I have.  Unfortunately, the progesterone oil shots that we have to do each day can mimic pregnancy/period symptoms so I try not to look too much into them. 

We have so many things working in our favor this cycle.  Everything was right where it needed to be in order for success, now it’s just up to my body to work its magic and for the embryos to stick.  We are hoping for one (of course possibly two) healthy baby out of this cycle.  I’m so thankful for everyone’s love and support as we move through this very tough journey.  It has been a long road I’m feeling like we are finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  We still have several days until we find out for sure and I’m hoping and praying that I will be able to finally share some amazing news with all of you.

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