Tuesday, November 24, 2015

IVFx6 Update & the Holiday Season...

Once again it’s been too long since I’ve blogged.  I remember a time when I was determined to get 3-5 posts out a week, now I can hardly muster 1 post a month.  I’m not sure what has changed, maybe the fact that I feel as though I never have anything new to write about because we are still stuck in this same horrible storm of infertility that we have been for so many years now.  Sharing my favorite stocking stuffers or a new recipe just doesn’t even seem worth it to me anymore.  I wonder if I will ever be able to make this blog what I had originally intended to over 3 years ago.

On top of my lack of motivation to write, work has been absolutely crazy.  I work for a gas & electric power company and we have had a couple major storms in the last few weeks and on top of that we are down a person in the office and she happens to have the most pressing responsibilities that we can’t let pile up.  I also happen to be her back up for almost everything she does so in her absence, I have been swamped.  We don’t expect her back for several months due to medical reasons so there really is no end in sight either.  Between work, traveling for doctor’s appointments, prepping for the holidays, and everything else life throws at us, I’m ready for a break!

As most of you know we recently started seeing another doctor that we are hoping will finally get us where we want to be.  This is our 3rd doctor & our 4th opinion in 2 years.  I was very happy that our new doctor, Dr. Sherbahn seems to be on the exact same page as we are with what we want for this cycle.  Last week I had a “mock” transfer and hysteroscopy which came back all normal, Joe submitted a sample which was normal, we had all preliminary blood work done & my meds will arrive today.  We are all geared up to start our 3rd and final fresh cycle. 

When I say final, I not only mean that I hope that this is the last fresh cycle that I will ever have to do, but for now, this is the last fresh cycle that I’ll willingly subject my body to.  If this cycle (and any frozen cycles to follow) doesn’t work, then we need to move forward with another option.  Of course this is subject to change, but what I have decided for myself at this time is that I will not let infertility be my entire life, I won’t give it any more time than I have to.  At some point it has to come to an end.  I hope it comes to a happy end where I can carry my own pregnancy with a healthy baby created by both mine & my husband’s genetics.

Things are progressing very quickly as next Monday the 30th is our baseline ultrasound and stims start on Tuesday the 1st.  My first monitoring appointment is the 4th, & retrieval is slated for the week of December 13th.  We decided that we’d like to do the PGS testing since it’s something that we haven’t tried that will rule out a lot for us and give us the peace of mind that we are transferring normal embryos.  The PGS testing will be costing us $5000 out of our own pockets because it is not covered by insurance.  Having just built a house, this will be a bit of a challenge for us, but we will make it work. 

Because we chose to have the testing, we will be doing a FET in January after the cells are tested.  The way that PGS is works is they retrieve the eggs, fertilize them, and then biopsy them and send a tiny sample of cells to a testing facility & freeze the embryos while the cells are tested.  The results take about 5 days & because of this, a frozen transfer is required the following month rather than a fresh transfer.  Because there is a chance that not enough eggs are retrieved or not enough fertilize to be sent for testing, a fresh transfer is a possibility.  I don’t expect that to happen since I am a great responder, but we are prepared for that if it comes down to it.

I have high expectations for this cycle and I really feel as though Dr. Sherbahn’s protocol for us will get us the best results.  I couldn’t believe how quickly they were able to get me into their schedule, the time is just flying and I can’t believe we are already celebrating Thanksgiving this week!  I am excited to decorate my new house for Christmas, go cut down our tree, and enjoy time with friends and family over the holiday season.  It really is the most wonderful time of the year. 

For Thanksgiving we have 3 stops.  It usually makes for a long day, but it’s always well worth it to see our families.  One of my favorite parts about this day is when we finally get home after our whirlwind day we sit down with a couple mimosas and officially kick off the Christmas season by watching Christmas Vacation, Elf, and any other Christmas movie we can stay up to watch.  It really is one of my favorite traditions of ours.  We will cut down our Christmas tree over the weekend too and start decorating.  We have an ugly Christmas sweater party to attend and I’ll be doing some Black Friday shopping as well.

As always, I really appreciate you guys sticking around for the long haul, and boy has it been a loooonnngg haul!  I know that I’ve been practicing terrible blogger etiquette as I’ve been slacking on commenting and reading as often as I used to so I really do appreciate those of you who still like to read, comment, and support us on this journey.  I hope everyone has the happiest of Thanksgivings.  Don’t forget to count your many many blessings.  I know that I am blessed beyond measure to have such an amazing husband, family, friends, dog, home, job, health, support group, and more!  Thank you all again! 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Our Newest Plan...

I would love to go back and try to find how many times I have typed the word “PLAN” on my blog.  How many plans have we had over these last 4 years of TTC?  Probably nearing the hundreds at this point.  Once again, we have a new plan.

We decided to switch doctors for a 3rd time and I am extremely confident (even more so than with my 2nd doctor) that he will help us get pregnant for real this time.  His name is Dr. Sherbahn and he works at the Advanced Fertility Centers of Chicago.  We had to travel over 2 hours in the direction of the city (YUCK) and it took us over 3 hours to get home, but we were very happy with what he had to say.

I went in first for an ultrasound and they said everything looks great as far as my uterus and ovaries are concerned.  I do have 2 small fibroids in my uterus (small tumors) which are not impinging so they’re nothing to worry about.  I have 30 antral follicles (follicles that sit in the ovaries) which is a great number for my age. 

Once the ultrasound was over we sat for a bit then we got to meet the doctor.  He is very serious but has a very dry sense of humor too, his personality is different, but he knows he is good and he has the numbers to prove it.  The national average of live births with IVF is 40, he is at 58.  That number alone was enough to get my attention.  We discussed my previous cycles and he showed us where our current (our first clinic) rates on the SART charts and it’s not very good.  Their live births were only 26, well below the national average.  We determined that I was more than likely overstimulated, which we already knew, and that the lab quality may not be up to par.  Looking at my stimulation sheets from my first cycle he was very concerned that they only monitored me on day 5 and on day 8, & that on day 5 my estradiol was a whopping 2000, he said it should’ve only been about 300 and that I should’ve been monitored daily with a number that high.

With my second clinic we determined that I may have been understimulated in an attempt to keep my follicle numbers down and help the quality, he wants to find a happy medium between my 2 cycles, somewhere along the lines of 15-21 follicles rather than the high number of 34 and the low number of 10.  I was thrilled because this is EXACTLY where I was at.  I made no mention of this to him, and was very happy that he seemed to be on the same page as I am about stimulation.

The other big topic he covered was PGS testing.  He told us that for our age and their success rates it’s not something we would necessarily need, but with 5 failed cycles he completely understands if want testing done and is more than willing to let us do that if we’d like.  There are 2 testing facilities, one called Genesis in Detroit that has a 5 day turnaround so that we would be able to have our retrieval, freeze the embryos, send the cells off for testing, and then have our FET the following month.  Their cost is $4000.  The other facility is called GoodStart Genetics and they just recently got into PGS testing.  They are proven with PDG so I have no qualms about them not yet being proven with PGS, in fact I know a lovely lady who works at this facility so I am very confident in their work.  The plus side to this facility is that they only charge between $1500-$2000 so it’s more affordable, BUT their turnaround time is 6-10 days so we would end up having to wait 2 months to do our FET rather than just 1.  I told Dr. Sherbahn that I have waited over 4 years, I can certainly wait an extra month if that is the route that we decide to take.  

We aren’t 100% sure if we will move forward with the PGS testing but I think we are both leaning more towards having the testing done than not after all that we have been through.  To me this is the end of the road.  There will be no more doctors to seek out or treatments to try after this.  Although I think Dr. Sherbahn will help us get where we want to be. 

The success rates he gave us based on our history are, a 63% chance with 1 PGS tested embryo, a 45% chance with 1 untested embryo, or a 65% chance with 2 untested embryos.  Although the chance of transferring 2 untested is higher, it still has a higher risk of multiples which we are trying to avoid if possible.  Anything is a blessing, don’t get me wrong, we just know the risks associated with twins and don’t want to increase our chances if we don’t have to.  With a PGS tested embryo we would have peace of mind that it is normal and there is no reason it shouldn’t implant unless I have some type of uterine issue that we have yet to discover (which I don’t believe we do), we would also know the gender of our PGS tested embryos. 

I found out this afternoon that we should be starting this cycle as early as tomorrow!  My nurse, Deena told me she would submit a protocol to him for his review and that I would hear back tomorrow about whether or not I need to start BCP.  We should have baseline November 30th or Dec 1st and start stims on Dec 2nd.  Our retrieval would be scheduled for the week of Dec 13th but since we are early starters we would probably go the weekend before that!  I can't believe how quickly this is happening, but I am excited that it is.  

I need to thank you all again for your love and support as we continue to fight this path of infertility.  It has not been easy and we would never be where we are today without the truly amazing support system that we have in our lives.  I hope that you guys can stick it out with me while we venture down this new path & hopefully this final path to our baby!

Friday, November 06, 2015


For the 5th time now (actually the 7th if you count our 2 IUIs, and many more if you count natural cycles) we are experiencing another failed cycle.  I am more perplexed and more heart broken and I'm desperate for some answers as to why this keeps happening to us when things are "seemingly perfect".  I know that just because things look perfect doesn't mean they are, but we cannot seem to catch a break on this painstaking journey and it's overwhelmingly exhausting and frustrating. 

We have been pursuing parenthood for over 4 years now.  We have seen 2 doctors, consulted with another via phone and we are about to speak to another doctor on Wednesday, if we can't get this accomplished between 4 doctors then I'm throwing in the towel and moving on with something else. I spoke to the nurse at my current clinic at length today via email and she is as perplexed as we are about why this is happening.  What has inevitably become the most frustrating thing is that almost 2 years ago in late December 2013, Joe and I did an IUI and we ended up pregnant,  That means that his sperm fertilized my egg on it's own and it implanted and we achieved (a very brief) pregnancy.  But when we go through all of this IVF crap and have already made embryos transferred, nothing happens!  It's so irritating and seriously raises so many questions about the quality of the embryos that we have had so far.  

Here are my thoughts about it, and remember, I'm not a doctor, but I'm a stressed out, multiple cycle failure, passionate, PMS'ing woman with a deeply rooted PASSION for conquering this disease so... here's my thoughts: I strongly believe that of the 34 eggs we had retrieved, the 7 that fertilized are all of abnormal quality.  I don't think that one of them will implant and I don't have any desire to even transfer our last 2 and put myself through this again feeling the way that I do about them.  It sucks, but it's what I believe.  My 2nd doctor explained to me that typically anything over 20 eggs significantly decreases the quality of the embryos & that is what I think happened.  With my second cycle where only 10 eggs were retrieved I don't think that was enough of a batch as only 5 of them were mature and usable so they really didn't stand a fighting chance to develop which they didn't and we transferred 2 day-3's which failed.   Does this sound like it makes sense to anyone else?

We are planning on seeing Dr. Sherbahn at AFCC next Wednesday and I have several questions for him and I'm hoping that he can provide yet another perspective on our situation.  What I'd really like to see happen if we do another fresh cycle is CCS testing of our embryos (Comprehensive Chromosome Screening), I want to know if he will treat me for the Beta 3 integrin deficiency, and if he is willing to add a low dose of prednisone to the stimming cycle.  Other than that I don't have much more to ask.  I might even see what he thinks about reverting back to IUI because I've gotten farther with that than I have in a year of IVF cycles.  

There has to be an answer.  I need an answer.  If I could get an answer than maybe I could make a better informed decision about what to do next.  Is it even worth it to keep going?  Would it be better to pursue another avenue now rather than waiting and doing yet another fresh cycle?  I don't think anyone truly knows and I don't think any doctor will be able to ever give me a solid answer as to what is causing this for us.  

We still have some fight left in us for us to be able to have our own child by me carrying that pregnancy, at least for now.  I know that I want to exhaust all avenues that we can, but I also refuse to give my life to infertility, I will not do it.  I've already given int 4 years, which is 4 years too many, but I know that I will do all I can for some answers and hopefully a final solution to this issue.  I appreciate everyone's sweet thoughts and suggestions and love and prayers that they have shared with me as I had to announce yet another negative cycle for us.  It means the world to me to have so many people from so many wonderful places near and far rooting for us.  Thank you all so much, your words give me so much strength and determination & so much of my bravery comes from the inspiration that you all give me to keep up the good fight.  FUCK INFERTILITY! 

Monday, November 02, 2015

November...FETx3 Update

You guys, Thanksgiving is seriously only 3 weeks away!  Can you believe it?!  I know I sure can't. I always feel bad for Thanksgiving, it definitely gets overlooked because once Halloween is over the Christmas craze starts and it's kind of sad that people can't really take a few weeks to be thankful for all of the blessings in their lives.  I personally love Thanksgiving, I love the food, I love seeing my family, I love having a couple days off to relax, and I do love to kick off the Christmas season, but not until AFTER all the Thanksgiving festivities have been attended.  

So today I am 4 days post 5 day transfer (4dp5dt) and feeling the effects of the progesterone oil that I have been taking each day.  If you're not familiar with PIO, it's an oil based form of progesterone that is given via intramuscular injection so that means the needles are scary and the shot is a literal pain in the ass because it has to be given in the top, outside quadrant of your butt cheek.  No f'ing joke. These are by far one of the worst parts of IVF.  I make Joe do mine & right now I'm on 2cc's which is over half a syringe full.  The worst part about PIO is that it mimics pregnancy/premenstrual symptoms like sore boobs, cramping, fatigue, vivid dreams, etc. which makes it really hard to not think that something is going on in there!  Now that I've been through this 5 times, I noticed this cycle it's easier for me to accept that all of the symptoms that I've had (all of the above) are just that of PIO.  Other than that I am feeling fine and I'm trying to stay positive & optimistic, even though I am terribly jaded.

If things with this cycle don't work out we have another appointment with a new doctor on 11/11, but I have all my fingers and toes crossed that I'll be able to cancel that appointment.  I am prepared with my questions though and I have been continuing my supplements (all safe to take during the cycle) just in case we end up having to do another fresh cycle or maybe even try naturally for a change!  It truly sucks to think that we have almost exhausted all of our frosties (we have 2 left out of the 7 we had originally fertilize) and maybe even all of our options.  I'm really interested in what this new doctor has to say, I hope that it's similar to what I heard from CCRM because we just don't have the 20K that is due up front in the budget plus travel expenses to make that work.  I think that if I could find a doctor that would be willing to do something similar to what my CCRM doctor recommended that we could get this done here in Illinois and be successful.

I don't really have much more to report.  I'm just trying to keep my eye on the prize, but I'm also guarded and trying not to let my heart get too hurt at the same time if things don't work out.  I keep trying to tell myself that there's a good chance this one could work, we have never transferred two 5-day blastocysts yet, and since we are nearing the end of our supply of embryos I feel like one of these 4 that we have left (2 at home/2 frozen) have to be our baby/ies!  If not it will be a devastating blow and will more than likely lead to many more questions than answers, but we will deal with that only if we need to and at this moment I am PUPO for a few more day and planning to enjoy it!

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