Thursday, December 31, 2015

Final beta...

My HCG level dropped to a 4 as of today.  I was instructed to discontinue my meds as of today.  You know the saying “trust your intuition”, well it is the truth, trust it and it will not steer you wrong.  I knew when Tuesday’s results came back that the level has stayed the same that this was going to take a turn for the worst, and it did. 

When I think about this journey I think back to the beginning and how na├»ve I was.  Back in October 2013 we were fresh in the fertility world I had no clue what was in store for us.  And almost 2 years to THE DAY, I am miscarrying again for a second time.  Its very heart breaking to think we are still basically stuck in the same position that we were at that time except for in 2013 we hadn’t committed as much as we have at this point to infertility.  Are we just a bunch of suckers?  Kind of seems like it. 

In 27 months we have had 2 IUIs, 6 cycles of IVF, and 2 miscarriages.  We have consulted with 4 doctors and have been treated by 3.  We have transferred NINE embryos, NINE!  And only one of those has implanted, and only just barely.  Although we have come a long way, when I look at it on paper, we have made very little progress and now I am more heartbroken than ever.  I have watched so many women get pregnant and that is part of being involved in the TTC community, you see the success stories and it’s truly amazing, but you always wonder if you’ll be on the other side of it.  The side that gets to say “I beat infertility”, and you just never know if you will. 

We have a phone consultation with Dr. Sherbahn on January 26th to discuss the IVF fail and hopefully determine what could possibly come next for us.  I am not sure if I want to gamble with my own eggs again if the outcome is going to be the same as it was this cycle and I know there’s no one that can guarantee to me that that won’t happen.  I am very curious about what he has to say and what his suggestions are.  Luckily that is about a month away so that will give us some time to take our minds off of infertility & IVF (oh come on who am I kidding) and focus on other aspects of our lives.  Then hopefully we can come up with a little bit of a plan while we are on our break. 

I am not getting any younger and all that is happening with my age is my fertility health is decreasing so I don’t want to wait too long before taking our next steps.  I know that we may need to adjust our sails a bit and start considering a different route.  I just feel in my heart that is what our next steps are.  Do we keep beating our heads against a wall over and over or do we pick a new route and a different plan of action?  Maybe things aren’t going to ever happen the way we wished them to, maybe it’s just not meant to be that way.  The dysfunction of my body may never allow me to carry out things the way I think they should be carried out.  Do I keep working against it or do I start to work with it?  So many questions I never thought I’d be asking myself at this stage in my life. 

Peace out 2015.  Although it was an amazing year in so many ways with our beautiful forever home finally being completed and all of the joy that that has brought into our lives, we are still fighting a battle that I know I spend many hours of my day thinking about, obsessing about, worrying about, & wondering about.  2016, please be good to us.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Beta Hell...

You may (or may not) have been wondering what our beta results for IVFx6 were after it all crumbled to pieces before our eyes over the last couple weeks.  My scheduled beta day was December 26th so I got up early and headed to the lab to get my blood drawn.  I really had no clue what the outcome would be, but I knew that things weren't really in our or our embryos' favor so I assumed BFN and sulked around the house most of the morning waiting for the call.

Around 11 the nurse called to tell me that my HCG level was an 8.  They wanted to see over 50, but she said I needed to continue taking my meds and go back Tuesday for a second beta.  I was in fact, pregnant, but just barely as the lowest pregnancy level of HCG is 5.  My progesterone level was also only a 26 which is low for a pregnancy.  I was devastated, but I thought maybe since we transferred our embryos in their early stages, I thought they could just be lagging behind in implantation too.  I tried to keep up the positive spirit and soak in the fact that I was pregnant, even if it was just a teensy bit.

It seemed like it would take forever until Tuesday until I went into work Monday and we were having such a bad ice storm I ended up being asked to stay at work.  I work for a gas and electric power company and we had lots of outages and broken poles due to the heavy ice that was accumulating.  I welcomed the extra $ on my paycheck, but overnight storms always make for a slow night.  Once 6am rolled around and I had put in 24 hours of work, I went to the hospital for my 2nd beta before heading home to crash.  

The office didn't call me until after 2 which was frustrating, but I was certain I knew what the answer was going to be.  I had been having some light brown spotting on Monday which I almost always have with each period & was also the exact indicator with my last fresh cycle that it hadn't worked.  I hadn't had really any cramping or any other indications of AF, but I was just convinced that it had gone negative and I was going to miscarry.  The nurse said that my level was still an 8.  It hadn't dropped, but it also hadn't doubled which is what they want to see to determine a viable pregnancy.  I was instructed to, once again, continue my meds and go back for a 3rd beta on Thursday and if things don't begin to increase, we will stop meds and I will miscarry.  

I can't believe that this is happening to us.  What I foresaw as such a successful cycle quickly turned into an absolute nightmare & now I am stuck in beta hell waiting for another 2 days.  I feel like we are just delaying the inevitable by continuing the meds, but we also have to keep hope that something could happen & things could change.  I am eager to meet with Dr. Sherbahn to see what he has to say about all of this.  I hadn't planned on doing another fresh cycle at all because I thought we would be successful with this one, but now I think I need to start thinking about it and possible other options such as egg donation or even embryo adoption as someone has offered me their last remaining embryo.  Joe and I have never really discussed either option because we have always believed that we would be able to beat this with our own eggs and sperm, but I'm not sure that is the case anymore.

If I do end up miscarrying then we will take a break and I will let my body have a couple of natural cycles before we pursue anything else.  We also still have 2 frosties in Peoria so that is always an option as well, but Joe really wants to take some time to focus on us and not have to be committed to anything like constant doctors appointments, and I agree.  

When I think about what I did different this cycle compared to our first fresh cycle 17 months ago when we ended up with our 7 blasts, the only thing I can come up with are the supplements that I took religiously for 3+ months.  I can't see how they would cause any harm, but I'm not sure I will continue to use those as that is the only thing that I changed and the outcome was just very disappointing.  Once again, we won't know much about what's really going on until "cycle completion" when we can finally meet with our doctor.

I have to give a huge shout out to all of my TTC sisters who have been supporting and loving on us so much these last few days.  I seriously have the best tribe and I cannot thank them all enough for everything that they provide for me on an emotional level.  They're all truly amazing.  I also need to thank my husband for his love, support, and continued positivity as we navigate this journey.  He is my rock & my strength.  And thank you to all of my readers who continue to stick around, even though I'm a terrible blogger these days.  

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Everything is falling apart...

It was a week ago today that we got the call, 11 of our 16 embryos had fertilized!  Things were sounding soooo promising for this cycle and we were just elated at how everything had been going. Was this going to be it?  Could it possibly be THE cycle?  I really truly hoped so based on how well things seemed to be unfolding.  Then on Thursday when we received our 5-day embryo update we were shocked to find out that none of the 7 out of the 11 original fertilized embryos had made it to blastocysts, the 5-day cellular stage that they should've been at on that day.  We were devastated and faced with a decision that had to be made very quickly & without much guidance from our doctor.  

We decided to go ahead and transfer 2 of the embryos that were one stage behind blastocyst stage, compacting morulas.  Although this wasn't at all part of the plan and we were completely heartbroken and stressed that things were happening so quickly, what I've learned from this process over the years is that nothing ever seems to go as planned.  There are many variables that have to be exact and precise in order for a cycle to go smoothly & be successful and many times something happens that can throw everything off.  For us, we aren't sure what has happened.  We don't know if our embryos were just a little slower to develop or if their quality is just that bad that they didn't progress as they should.  

I tried to be excited.  Typically transferring & being PUPO is supposed to be such an exciting time, but it certainly wasn't feeling that way at all.  The whole thing just was stressful, rushed, and completely shocking.  Since we had transferred 2 we still had 5 potentials that could make it, although we knew that probably only 2 of those embryos had any chance of making it to biopsy or freeze.  Our plan was to biopsy anything that we had so that we knew what we were making was normal or not.  If they were, then great, we'd freeze them and hopefully have them for later use if need be.  If they weren't then we would know there was other issues at hand.

On Saturday I was feeling much better about things and just trying to be as positive as I could.  I posted a pic and a thank you on Instagram stating that I was so grateful for everyone's prayers and support that had been sent our way over the last few days as we dealt with the situation.  A couple hours later I was on my way into town to get my hair done, eat lunch with my mom, and do my errands when the doctors office called.  They told us that NONE of the 5 remaining embryos had made it far enough to be biopsied and frozen.  Not one.  I broke down and just cried for pretty much the entire day as I just felt as though I was living in some kind of nightmare.  I couldn't have anticipated any of this at all to be happening the way it has.  

Everything seemed so perfect and now it has all just crumbled so quickly right in front of us.  How could we go from creating 7 blastocysts our first cycle in July 2014 to having NONE just a year later? The outcome is similar to our second cycle, but I had just assumed that because we had so little retrieved and mature (5) that the numbers just weren't on our side.  I am even more confused now than I was before we went into this cycle which is the opposite of what I was hoping for.  If my egg quality was poor I wouldn't have expected to make any blasts my first cycle either, could my eggs turn bad within a matter of  year?  I don't think it's possible, but I'm not a doctor so I don't know.

At this point we are holding on to hope that the 2 embryos that we did transfer are snuggling in for the long haul, but it's very hard to keep that optimism when none of the others survived.  It just doesn't seem like the chances of the 2 we transferred making it is very high, but you never know.  I am anxious to talk to our doctor and see if he has any insight into what could have happened.  At this point I have no idea what is in store for us or what our future holds.  We could end up pregnant and this nightmare could quickly turn into our dream coming true, or it could continue to fall apart and put us again in a position of uncertainty and frustration. 

For over 4 years now we have been trying to expand our family.  We have tried every trick in the book and done so many different types of infertility treatments and had so much testing done & never have been given a reason as to why.  I watch people around me have babies, some planned and wanted, some unplanned and unwanted.  I see Christmas cards with pictures of babies on them and I wonder if that will ever be us.  I wonder if we will ever become parents, will I ever carry a pregnancy, will I ever make my mother a grandma, or Joe a father?  I wonder why we have put so much time, money, effort, and hard work into this and have gotten absolutely NOTHING out of it. Not a glimmer of hope, none of the 9 embryos that we have transferred have resulted in a pregnancy, and no answers as to why.  For 4 years now all I have thought every single day of my life is this, of course it didn't start out so bitter and sad, it started out excited and hopeful that it would happen for us quickly and naturally, and then when it didn't, we accepted it for what it was and hit the ground running with treatments and surgeries.  Now here we are, over 2 years of official infertility treatment and we have nothing to show for it.  I am sick and tired of being strong, I'm sick and tired of putting my body through this without any guarantee that it will work.  I want this for us so much, and I'm not sure I will ever be able to let that thought go and move on with my life, especially after it's all you've thought about for so many years.  Will we ever get to be on the other side of this disease?  Will we ever get to say that we beat it?  If only we could take a peek into our future to know that what we are putting so much effort is actually worth the time.  I never thought that we would still be on this road and I wish that it would just come to an end for us.

Friday, December 18, 2015

IVFx6 Update - Embryo Transfer

On Thursday I received a call from the doctor’s office that we had 7 embryos, but that they were lagging behind.  4 were at what is called Compacting Morula stage which is the stage right before blastocyst stage which is where they should’ve been yesterday, day 5.  There were 3 that were also only at morula stage (day 3) that I don’t believe will progress any farther.  I was in complete shock and was so devastated at this news.  I was expecting 5-7 blasts to send off for testing and by day 5 we didn’t have any blasts.  .

They told us that we could do a 5 day transfer but it would have to be TODAY.  I’m at work, Joe is at work, and we are 2 hours away and have no idea if they could even get us in.  I wasn’t anticipating this to happen at all so I was just completely mortified and had no idea what to do.  I called Joe who was at work which makes it nearly impossible to get ahold him.  I finally decided to call his boss and tell him I needed Joe to call me as soon as possible. 

After a very confusing and tear-filled discussion we decided our best bet was to transfer 2 and let the other 5 try to catch up and still have them biopsied and tested if any of them happened to make it.  At this point we have no idea what, if anything, our remaining 5 will turn into.  I am very hopeful that the 2 compacting morulas that we did not transfer will develop into blastocysts and be biopsied for testing. 

Once we made the decision I called the doctor’s office back and they told me we had to be there by 12:40 for a 1pm transfer.  It was already 9:45 and we have a 2 hour drive plus Joe was working an hour away from home.  Talk about stress.  I rushed home to change, rushed to meet Joe, and rushed like crazy to get to the doctor’s office.  We were a few minutes late but there was no one else in the procedure area so I wasn’t too worried about it. 

The transfer went super smooth.  It was relatively painless, we got to watch the embryos be transferred on the TV screen, and then I had to lay down for about 60 minutes.  We made the drive home and I relaxed for the rest of the night and was told I could resume my normal activity today. 

For as long as I’ve been on this journey, I know better than anything that there are lots of twists and turns and unexpected things that can happen, but so far this has probably been one of the biggest plot twists that we’ve had happen to us.  Everything about this cycle was going so well, our numbers were looking so good; I never ever expected them to say what they said to me on the phone yesterday.  Now we just have to hope that at least one of our two babes will make itself comfy for the next 9 months. 

What is supposed to be a time of excitement has just been stressful and heartbreaking.  I had such high hopes for this cycle and now I’m just so unsure of everything that is happening.  I want to be hopeful and excited that these embryos still have a lot of potential to develop & implant, but I just can’t convince myself.  With each cycle it gets harder and harder to convince yourself that anything is going to work.  If this cycle doesn’t work and we end up with no other embryos then I don’t know what we will do or where we will go from here.  I know I shouldn’t even be thinking that far in advance but it is impossible not to.

I am going to try and take this for what it is, embrace the fact that we are PUPO, and enjoy the Christmas celebrations during this dreaded TWW.  At this time I cannot be that beacon of positivity and optimism that I normally am because I am still just numb to everything that happened yesterday, but I do have everything crossed that this will finally be IT for us. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Retrieval & Fertilization Report

After my monitoring appointment on Thursday I got a call from the nurse that they wanted me to trigger that night for retrieval on Saturday!  I was shocked, I figured I wasn’t triggering until Friday, but I was glad I wouldn’t have to take any unpaid/sick time at work.  Dr. Sherbahn wanted me to do one last shot of FSH ASAP on Thursday so when I got home from work I did one last injection of 150iu of Gonal & then did my trigger of 10,000 HCG that night at 11:30.  Our retrieval was scheduled for 10:30 AM on Saturday.

We got up early Saturday and made the drive towards Chicago.  It was really foggy so we left a little earlier than we needed to & the drive really wasn’t bad so we got there about 9:30.  They got me in a recovery room right away & had me give a urine sample and get changed into that lovely hospital gown with the open back.  They were running a little bit behind schedule, but not much.  We got all of our post-retrieval instructions and met with the anesthesiologist.  He got the IV hooked up and shortly after they took me back to the procedure room.  The best part is they give you the anesthesia right away and you have no idea what’s going on.  You don’t have to suffer through the torture of the speculum & the poking and prodding for once.

After the procedure I woke up pretty quickly and was very talkative as always.  I also go a bit nauseous so we stuck around for a bit longer than I had expected we would.  Dr. Sherbahn came back and told us that he retrieved 16 eggs!  I was sooo happy with this number as I was hoping for between 15-18.  I wanted to meet right in the middle of our other 2 cycles and that is exactly where we were.  He said that we would treat this as though we will do a fresh transfer, but he expected enough of my eggs to fertilize and that we would more than likely be able to do the PGS testing.  I slept for most of the ride home and relaxed on the couch feeling bloated and sore for the rest of the day.  Joe made me a grilled cheese and some soup and I went to bed early.

On Sunday I got up and did some errands.  I was nervous about hearing our fert report.  By the time I got home from town the doctor’s office had called to tell us that of the 16 eggs retrieved, 15 were mature, and 11 had fertilized with ICSI!  Once again I was so happy because I was hoping for at least 10.  The embryologist said that we are right on track to do the PGS testing and that we will hear back from them on Thursday.  Fingers and toes crossed that our embies continue to develop & progress!  I’d really love to have 6 embryos to send off for testing, if not more!

A lot of people have been asking about when our transfer will be, referring to a Christmas baby, and curious as to what PGS testing is so I thought I’d just quickly explain how that all works.  PGS testing is a screening for chromosomal abnormalities within an embryo, it tests for certain conditions like Down’s Syndrome.  Only 5+ day embryos can be tested so there is never a guarantee that testing will be done, it can only be planned for.  If there are embryos that make it to day 5/6, then those embryos are biopsied & the cells are sent off to a genetic testing lab.  The actual embryos are frozen and kept at the doctor’s office. It will take about a week to get results.  Because of this process we will actually be doing a frozen transfer in January if we have embryos that end up tested. 

Because there is a chance that the embryos may not develop and progress to day 5 as we would like them to, they also prepare us for a fresh transfer so we have started all the necessary meds like progesterone shots just in case.  In the end it is up to us whether we want to have what makes it to day 5 tested.  If we only had 1 embryo make it that far, then the $5000 out of our own pockets for testing is probably not worth it, but if we have a nice number (like the 6 that I’d like to see), then we would feel more confident about spending that kind of money to have this done. 

As always, appreciate all the sweet comments, thoughts, prayers, love, and support over these last few days!  Fingers crossed for good numbers on Thursday!

Monday, December 07, 2015

IVFx6 Update...

So far this cycle has been moving along at lightning speed.  Today is already day 7 of stims and for a typical IVF cycle stims usually happen for 10-12 days.  We are inching closer and closer to retrieval and I think we will more than likely be set for that this coming weekend!

So far I’ve had 2 monitoring appointments since starting stims last Tuesday the 1st.  At my first appointment on Friday the ultrasound tech said everything looked good.  I didn’t ask how many follicles I had at the time.  They called me Friday afternoon with further instructions & told me I would need to come back on Sunday.  We got up before sunrise & headed back to Gurnee (a 2+ hour drive from home) for another appointment.  Once again I was told things were looking good.  When they called me for further instruction I asked about my follicles.  She said so far I have 20; 4 of them were 10mm, 2 of them were 9mm, and 14 of them were >8mm.  I am happy with the number, but we need to see some major growth over these next few days.  Only follicles 14mm and higher are considered “mature”. 

They upped my dose to 250iu x day (125iu AM & 125iu PM) from 200iu and upped my low-dose HCG from 7 to 8, I started with 6.  I think I am on a pretty good track, just praying for all of these follies to start growing more!  Last night I also added Ganirelix to the mix.  I have to take it at 10pm so I have to set a separate alarm for it because I’m always sleeping at that time.  Ganirelix is used to suppress the LH surge & prevents ovulation.  I will continue this each day until trigger. 

So far I’m feeling pretty good about this whole cycle.  Honestly with work, Thanksgiving, and Christmas in the mix I haven’t really been able to dedicate much thought to any one thing.  It’s honestly a nice distraction.  I know that I am in good hands and I’m in the best condition that I have been during a fresh cycle so I don’t think I have much to worry about anyway.  What I’d really like to see is between 15-18 eggs retrieved & mature so that we have a nice number fertilize for testing.  I am hoping for at least 6 to be sent off to testing.  I hope that I’m not being overzealous with that number. I am also really hoping that the 3+ months of Ubiquiniol CoQ10 that I have been taking is helping increase the quality of my eggs.  From what I’ve seen, most people who have been on CoQ10 have had much more successful cycles so I hope the same goes for us as well.

Everything else in my life has been good.  We’ve been decking our halls & it has been so much fun finding places for everything.  I am obsessed with how cute my whole house turned out.  I am really proud of myself this year (tooting my own horn here!) but I really enjoy Christmas decorating.  We recently adopted a new pet in the Ridley home too.  We got a cat from a farmer and named her Scout.  She’s a little shit, but she’s so cute and cuddly we just love her.  Franks not really sure what to think of her. 


I hope everyone is having an amazing holiday season so far!  Remember this time of year is about spending time with family & be thankful for all that we are blessed with. 

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