"Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy. "

30 January 2011


(I'm stealing the title of this blog from another crafty blogger... )

Recently I was the recipient of the above awards from 3 fellow bloggers. Thanks Ladies!
Here are the rules for accepting the awards:
  1. Thank and link back to the person/people who gave you the award - Done
  2. Share 7 things about yourself - See below
  3. Award 15 other bloggers - See below
  4. Contact those bloggers to tell them about the award - Done
7 things about myself that you might now know:
  1. I learned to snowboard when I was in college and I LOVE it! I now live in the Midwest and the "ski hills" as they like to call them here just plain suck. Hopefully someday I'll be able to spend at least one week a year skiing in the Rockies, where only TRUE mountains live.
  2. I just read "Skinny Bitch" and I think its going to push me over to the vegan column. This really isn't a book about being skinny, but more about really actually THINKING about what you put in your body. We have become sooooo oblivious to understanding where our food actually comes from.
  3. My favorite job EVER was a bartender in a blues bar in college. Its such a blast being behind a bar in a packed place with fantastic music playing. The energy will keep you going for days.
  4. Speaking of music, I want to take up piano and/or flute lessons again. I used to play piano and flute but dropped them when I entered high school.
  5. The two foods I can't STAND, to the point of wanting to vomit if they get close to my house are bananas and yogurt. I don't remember the last time I've had a banana and I don't think I've even tried yogurt because that smell makes my stomach lurch... excuse me while I go puke in my mouth a bit.
  6. If I could do it all over again, I'd be a dancer, a backup dancer for Madonna or something amazingly fun like that. I danced in college (no, not THAT kind...) and found a way to express myself and felt SO amazingly comfortable in my own body. Now my body is just blobby and bloated from IVF. BOOOO and I have a wonderful hubby who doesn't like to dance... ever.
  7. My dog is so cute that I want to squeeze her too hard and pop her head of. I hope I don't do that when I have kids... LOL!
Hope you found something out about me that you didn't know!

Now, the 15 10 bloggers that I get to award... hmmm... I think a few of them have already been awarded, so my list isn't 15 as I just can't keep up and follow tons and tons of blogs, but I'll do my best (and ps... not all are infertility blogs):

A Little Blog about the Big Infertility
Adventures in Infertility Land
Cooking with Gas
Infertility Unexplained
More Room in My Heart
Waiting for a Baby Bump
Infertility Musings
Roccie Road
Stork Stalking
The Infertile Farmer

Happy Award-ing!

29 January 2011

3 in the Freezer

We went to the clinic yesterday to check on our 6 embryos and decide whether or not to transfer this month or freeze all due to my higher progesterone number on day of trigger. The night before, B and I had made our decisions based on scenarios of how many we have left. 6 was easy - transfer 2, freeze 4. 4 was easy - freeze all. But 5 was a little less so... transfer none? 1? or 2?

B actually wasn't there yet because his work schedule is such that he can't just leave work at any given time. He's a teacher and finding a sub for just an hour or two of his classes is difficult at his school. He said if we did transfer, he wouldn't be able to be there until just at the time of transfer. They had ME arrive an hour before.

So I went into the prep room with the hospital bed, gown and warm blanket and waited to talk with my RE before I got undressed. She came in with a big smile: 5! and 4 of which were grade A ( yes, they grade them like beef). But then we sat there together in the room trying to think of the best plan.

You see, nothing is really clear cut in this infertility world. Even last night as I looked up studies on pubmed there's conflicting information about serum progesterone levels on day of trigger. Some studies say it predicts lower pregnancy rates and therefore the best course of action is to freeze all and do an FET, others, not so much. But what really helped me to make my decision was not the numbers, but the visual look of my uterine lining.

A little science lesson: Before ovulation and before the uterus is exposed to progesterone, the uterine lining should look something like this (not mine, just a good pic on the in internet):

You can see there, what they call the 'triple stripe. Its the part where the thin white line is surrounded by some darker grey area and the a different white outline of the uterine lining. That's the area that gets shed every month when a woman gets her period. This is what we want the uterus to look like on the day of ovulation (or retrieval in and IVF cycle).

Once the uterus has been exposed to higher levels of progesterone, which in a natural cycle occurs right after ovulation and in an IVF cycle occurs on the day of retrieval when we start progesterone supplements, the lining starts to look more homogeneous, ie, no distinct triple stripe pattern.

My RE said that even though my progesterone numbers were a higher than they would like, she checked the pattern of my lining on the day of retrieval and it still looked 'triple striped.'

As she and I sat in the prep room yesterday trying to make our decision, I went back to these following facts: My body still "looked" receptive and on IVF #1,  I did actually get pregnant, albeit a chemical pregnancy, even though my progesterone was high then too.  As I said in my last post, science is fantastic for helping us make a good decision, but sometimes you just have to throw your hands up and roll the dice.  And with that, we made the decision to freeze the 3 best looking embryos and transfer the remaining 2.  It just felt like the right thing to do.

So here I am, saying hello to the 'two week wait' again.

Now, how do I get through these next few weeks with some sanity???

27 January 2011

We Have Embabies!

Quick update. I'll post more later, but just wanted to give you and update

14 eggs ==> 8 mature ==> 6 fertilized


Oh, and they aren't 'grainy and spongy' like the RE said at the clinic where I participated in the clinical trial. Screw you Chicago clinic!!! Poo on you for your mean spirited comments about  my eggs. Poo!! My eggs ROCK! :-)

(That felt good! This IVF cycle was worth it just for the simple fact that this batch of eggs aren't grainy and spongy)

So here's the deal. We're going in tomorrow and if all 6 are still looking good, we're going to transfer 2 and freeze 4. While I believe wholeheartedly in science and statistics, they should only be used as very good guidelines rather than dogma. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut. And my gut is telling me that if we have enough, let's transfer 2 tomorrow. Even though my progesterone is high and my clinic has never had a pregnancy with a progesterone as high as mine on trigger day, I feel like we have enough embryos today to give it a go. And I have to go w/ my gut on this one.

So we may or  may not transfer tomorrow. But for now, we have some embabies! Hooray!!!

26 January 2011

Retrieval Update

Just a quick update after my retrieval. I'm back at home, just woke up from a groggy post-propofol (drug used for conscious sedation for Egg Retrieval) nap and am feeling a bit more at peace. My deepest fears didn't come true today. We did actually get some eggs... 14 in fact! So I'm cautiously optimistic.

Now the brutal 24 hours of waiting to hear if any were mature and fertilized comes. Hoping for a few good ones.

Thank you all for helping to hold me up these past few days. It means the world to me.  Its been an emotionally messy ride, but I have been able to find some calmness for now (or at least the propofol is still having a mild effect.. LOL!)

I'll post more tomorrow about the fertilization report and our next steps.

25 January 2011

Fear Eats

Fear is eating away at my sanity today...

I hardly slept last night. I feel edgy and anxious today. I'm so worried that when I come out of my la-la land haze tomorrow after the egg retrieval, my sweet RE is going to look at me with her sad eyes and say all of my eggs are crap... that they are spongy and grainy and they just disintegrated upon removal... and with that our last chance will be over and done with. I'm also fearful that the trigger shot that I took at 10:30 last night did nothing and none of my eggs will mature and all of this money and time and emotion will be wasted.

Fear sucks.

I wish I was a naive first time IVFer right now, without all of the medical knowledge I have, without 3 failed IVF cycles under my belt, with out gun-shy ovaries after IVF#3 debacle.

I think this just confirms why most infertility vets don't typically go through this many IVF cycle. With each one, knowledge of what can go wrong increases and worry takes hold.

Yes, I'm doing my meditations and I'm at work trying to keep my mind occupied, but one can't just get rid of the deep seated feelings they have that impending doom is coming. Its innate in me. I've been through just about 4 years of failed cycles, and with each new hope, some other new news comes that takes the hope away.

I'm sorry if this is coming off as total debbie-downer (love that phrase!) but Its just how I'm feeling right now and I need to get it out of my system. I think I'll start to focus on a big fat martini that I plan to have on Friday night.. or maybe 10.

24 January 2011

Deep Freeze

Its been brutally cold here lately. Much of the last few days have been spent in single digit temps and the evenings are even worse. I think the weather is trying to tell me something...

I went to my monitoring appointment yesterday morning and before we took any blood levels, my RE said she wanted to cry! She was so happy with my ovaries progress.They looked awesome on the ultrasound screen. Both look something like this:

That's a picture of one ovary with multiple eggs growing, one in each of the follicles (Thank you Advanced Fertility Centers of Chicago for the picture)You can't see the eggs, but you can see about 10 or so follicles. I've got about 16 total between both ovaries. Its a good number for my age.

The problem is the quality of each egg in there. Basically my hormones aren't balanced quite right (as shown by a high progesterone reading before ovulation and too low of an estrogen number for the amount of follicles in there). Progesterone should be under 1.5 and mine is at 3.2 and I won't even begin to describe the Estrogen.. but lets just say its not stellar. We're not sure if this happens in a natural cycle or if it happens just when I'm on this many IVF drugs. Regardless of why it happens, the fact that it happens puts me in a group of women who typically have lower pregnancy rates... UGH...

And again, this isn't new information, as it happened with IVF #1 and #2, but its just one of those imperfections in one's body that really pisses ya off, ya know? I have such a hard time when I don't do something right. Its definitely one of my personality flaws. I need reassurance and I need to do things right and if I don't do them right, I tend to want to re-do it until we get it as perfect as possible. And then I need more reassurance that I've finally done it right and perfect. But I know with IVF that we just don't have the money or the time to keep pissing away dollars on end to find the perfect egg. AND sometimes I just need to accept my imperfections and focus on the good and what I already do well.

So it looks like the best way through this mess of a hormone parade is to go ahead with retrieval and then do a 'freeze-all' where they take any of the fertilized embryos on day 1 and freeze them. Then we do a frozen embryo transfer next month when they can control my hormone levels better, as I alluded to in my last post.

And after a few days of thinking about this, I'm ok with it. No, we won't get to transfer fresh embryos and yes, our chances decline a bit because of that, but if my uterus isn't in a receptive place, then what's the use of wasting perfectly good embryos on a hostile place, right? And this IS DEFINITELY our last IVF cycle. I'm done with this process. I'm over it. NO MORE. I've done my best, and even without perfection, I have to accept that this is the best we could do...

Therefore, I think choices should be made to increase our odds, and thus my potential embryos will be put in the "deep freeze" for a month whilee we get my hormone levels right with out trying to grow a crap ton of eggs. I sure hope that we have enough in there to work with this time.

After doing one last night of stims yesterday, I went to the RE today for one final ultrasound and bloodwork and we're ready to go. Trigger tonight at 10:30pm which puts me at a retrieval on Wednesday morning. Hoping for at least a few good quality eggs in there. COME ON UNIVERSE! THIS IS MY LAST ONE!! Please give me something to work with.

21 January 2011

I Thought I Told You to Stop Thinking!

(A quick aside before I get to my blog post: HAPPY ICLW! I can't believe how quickly these months are passing. Welcome to new readers. You'll see a few tabs at the top of my blog to learn a bit about me. I'm so glad you're here :-) )

In my last post, I decided to stop thinking and just do.

Easier said than done.

I had my monitoring appointment yesterday, after 6 days of stims. This are going well from the follicle side. I have about 12 measurable follicles and a few more unmeasurable ones. However, as soon as I saw those girls on the ultrasound monitor, I could see that things weren't ideal. Some of the follicles were a bit bigger than we had expected them to be at this point, which means that potentially my progesterone might start to increase before we wanted it to. The size of the follicles doesn't necessarily determine this, but my history does.

You see, with IVF #1& 2, I had premature lutenization.  A big scary word that manifests in progesterone rising too soon before retrieval of the eggs. To boil it down to lay-mans terms, when progesterone starts to increase too soon in one's cycle, it causes the uterine lining to be less receptive to the embryo and decreases pregnancy rates. It's potentially also a precursor to ovarian failure. I've found conflicting viewpoints on this topic. It seems that some RE's concern themselves with progesterone levels as an IVF cycler nears trigger and retrieval, and others don't. My RE's have actually written and published articles on it, and so, yes, they do concern themselves.

So I have to go back in on Sunday for a check on the growth of the follicles and my progesterone and estrogen levels. Based on those, we will either trigger that day for a retrieval on Tuesday or stim for a day or two more.

One of the ways to overcome this uterine receptivity issue is to do what's called a 'freeze-all'... so we'll get the eggs out of me, fertilize them with B's swimmers and then freeze all of the embryos and wait to transfer them until the next cycle where we can line up my progesterone levels accordingly. This is easy to do in a frozen cycle since I'm taking a drug to stop me from growing any follicles/eggs, and therefore no progesterone production that we can't control.

So that's an easy fix...but now I'm just a mess in my head. I wish there was a clear cut answer as to what to do and I so wish that for once my progesterone would just stay put. But I know that I can't control that, so I'm going to have to try to control my busy head. I'm waking up in the morning swirling with thoughts of what ifs and should haves.  Man, I wish this was easier. I wish that my ovaries just sucked and didn't produce any eggs.  I probably would have given up on my body by now and have moved on to another option and be either happily pregnant with a donor embryo or be working towards adoption. Instead, the fact that I have a lot of eggs makes me continue down this path of my own genetics, searching for a needle in a haystack. UGH!!!

So now all I can do is think.... what if we stim too long and my egg quality sucks. What if my progesterone is too high on Sunday at my next monitoring appointment and we miss the chance to transfer a fresh embryo? Our success rate automatically decreases. What if we don't have any good quality eggs to freeze if we can't transfer fresh? Why does my body do this? Should we be monitoring every day? EEEEEk!!!!!!!! My head is spinning and I need to stop!

Breathe in
Breathe out
Breath in
Breathe out

Anyone out there encounter this issue and have success??? Please tell me so?

17 January 2011

Stop Thinking, Just Do

And so the daily shots begin
And my belly begins to bruise
And I attend my ultrasounds and blood draws
And I'm wondering if I'm eating and drinking the right things
And I'm worrying if work is stressing me out and ruining my egg quality
And I'm feeling high and hopeful because my RE is so excited about my progress
And I'm feeling low and scared because, hey, this hasn't worked YET, so why should it now?
Dear Baby... will you please please decide to finally join us? I really really want this to be the last time.

After 3 days of shots, my ovaries are responding well. Thank you, thank you, oh young ovaries! You surprise me after my last cycle and prognosis of 'sucky eggs'... So really, what IS wrong with me???  Why has this not worked yet? We've spent 4 years with really no, true answer...

My RE came in this morning to my monitoring appointment with a chipper look on her face saying, "I'm SO glad we decided to do this! Sometimes you just have stop thinking about it and go for it." And I agreed. I'm going to stop thinking about this and just do it.

Next peak at the ovaries is on Thursday. I'll keep ya posted.

P.S. - For those of you in my "Why Shot my Stork" group, all I have to say is: Thanks to my unicorn band-aids, Joan will be attending all of my appointments with me this time...

15 January 2011

All In

First things first... my baseline ultrasound went really well! Thanks SOOO much for the prayers and good thoughts. They worked! My antral follicle count was around 20, just like with my first two IVF cycles back in 2009. So it's a go! We're "all in" as they say in Texas Hold 'em (even though I have no clue how to play that game). Last night I started my shots. I'm taking 375u gonal-f and 75u menopur. Then in about a week, we'll add the cetrotide to prevent ovulation until we're ready to trigger. And with that, I've once again entered the sisterhood of the bruised bellies.

I marvel at the human body. Infertility has made me absolutely amazed with it. It makes me wish I had gone into the medical field.  Anywho, my point... With IVF#3, at my baseline ultrasound, I had just about 7 antral follicles. And I was thinking, man, my body sucks. I'm old. And just yesterday I was back on a high thinking that I'm a teenager again! (well, not quite.. but let's say late 20s).  Is the antral count that variable, from month to month? Or is it simply that with IVF #3 I was not on birth control pills first. My RE thinks that when you are on BCPs, it gives your body a chance to get a few more  follicles into the antral stage, all lined up and ready to go. So I guess I'm proving her theory right. Also, I checked back to IVF #1 & 2, and sure enough, about 20+ antral follicles. Go figure. Well, if nothing else, we should have a larger crop of eggs to work with this time.

Oh, also, my RE asked me how I felt about being aggressive. Her words were, "Are you ok with feeling kind of bloaty?"... So I guess we're pulling out the big guns this time. EEP!  "All in"... That's our motto this time.

On a different note, it seems that where the emotional rollercoaster of this fertility journey is concerned, apparently I'm on a very different one than B.

B and I went out to dinner on Thursday night. As we sat at the bar, me sipping my last big glass of wine for a while, hopefully 9 months, B expressed how excited he was about our upcoming IVF cycle and how he just knows that it's going to work. Now I've suspected that he's felt this way for a while based on a few little comments he's made and the shine in his eye when we talk about it, but I'm not sure I really understood how hopeful and excited he is until that dinner.

It almost reminds me of how I felt when we started our first IVF cycle, almost 2 years ago. But what I realized is that I just can't get there. I can't get all giddy and excited and "up" about this being it, the final step. Its just too hard. This isn't to say that I'm not hopeful. In fact, I was the one that wanted to do this with my body, one... last... time...  B was somewhat ready to move on to a different route. I was the one who convinced him that I needed closure with my body before we move on.

And yet here I sit, somewhat numb (albeit a bit more excited now that I have 20 antrals instead of 7...), and he's the giddy one. Strange.

But maybe not. Maybe its just is a good example of how no two people can experience an event (or journey in this case) in the exact same manner. I really want to control his emotions and have him not hurt if this doesn't work, but I can't. I have to let him walk through this the way he needs to, not the way I need him to.

And so, as our roller coasters are starting off on the path of IVF once again, it looks like B's car is already higher than mine... I wonder if I'll catch up.

13 January 2011

Think Antral Thoughts

I have a few posts stirring in my head and hope to spend this upcoming weekend with NO PLANS (whee!!!) getting a few written out.

In the meantime, just wanted to update you all that yesterday was my last day on those evil BCPs (birth control pills for those of you who don't know the lingo. One day, I promise I'll get a glossary page up). I go in tomorrow morning for my baseline ultrasound and blood work. If all goes well, I could be sticking myself in the belly with multiple shots tomorrow night. Yippee!!! (that's a little serious and a lot sarcastic)

Also, if you believe in the power of prayer or group thought, please send some my ovaries' way so that they show a nice big crop of antral follicles in tomorrow's ultrasound. Come on ovaries! Remember, this is our last shot... so let's make it a good one.

04 January 2011

Two Utterances

UGH!- 95 (a bit exaggerated) pregnant bellies passed my sight at lunch today

OUCH! - just ordered most of my meds for my next cycle $$$

What's In a Dream?

B and I woke up Monday morning both from a tossy and turny night of restless sleep... and some strange-ass dreams. Maybe because we were anxious about going back to work after a week and  half off, or maybe because we are now super close to starting shots for IVF #4...  January 1, AF showed and thus the BCPs start. (Ps... I hate BCPs worse than I do Lupron... Hopefully I'm not too much of a monster).

So here's what I awoke from that morning.

I arrived in Abu Dhabi and was heading to my hotel room. Not really sure why I was there. In order to get to the hotel room, I had to climb some steep ladder-like stairs and fit through a small half doorway of a clay type building. At the doorway was a little old lady wrapped in some head scarves welcoming me. I'm not sure if I found her scary or sweet.

Somehow I fit through the doorway and entered the hotel room. It was a really large space with a middle common room and a kitchenette with a window looking outside. Around this space were about 5 or so bedrooms. I was faced with choosing which bed I would be staying in. I was also waiting for my sister to arrive, so I wanted to find a bed for her. Also there were a few old college roommates.

I was struggling to make a decision on which room/bed to take. Each room was a bit wrong for me and I couldn't figure out where my sister would sleep too. As the dream progressed, the large room kept filling up with more people, most of which seemed like they were getting ready for some kind of party, to be thrown there in the room. And they were claiming their own bed spaces. And I started to get really anxious. Where was I going to sleep? Where was I going to find a quiet space of my own? And I didn't want there to be a party! I just wanted some rest and peace.

So I decided to take a bed in the room that was set up for kids. In the room, there were 2 little blond headed children, 1 boy and 1 girl, although I can't seem to remember their faces. There were smaller beds for them and they were each playing in the room at the time. There were also a few adult sized beds and I was trying to ask them if it would be ok if I slept in the room with them. The little girl seemed excited but I don't really remember what the boy had to say about it. I started to feel a  sense of calm coming on because I found a quiet place that I was going to be able to sleep and I was exicted to lay down next to this sweet little girl and hear her sleep later that evening...

And then the dream fades out and I'm not sure what else happened... and I woke up  and asked B if he had strange dreames and told him that 'my head is f-ed up!"

He proceeded to tell me about a snippit of his strange dream, where there were beer bottles, but they were also representing kids, and he had to choose which ones to pick...  I don't even know where to begin with that one, or do I? :-)

So yesterday, I was chatting with M about my dream for a bit and we agreed there was some crazy symbolism going on there... M's also on her own fertility journey. Go visit her! Her blog rocks. Oh, she's also a therapist, so I like to pick her brain now and then. Anyways, our conversation prompted me to look some things up in an online dream dictionary. Here's some of the interesting things I found:
  • stairs - To dream you are walking up a flight of stairs, indicates you are achieving a higher level of understanding. You are making progress in your spiritual, emotional or material journey.
  • door - To dream you are entering through a door signifies new opportunities that are presented before you. You are intereing into a new stage in your life and moving from one level of consciousness to another. If the door opens to the inside, it denotes your desire for inner exploration and self-discovery.
  • bed- To dream you are searching for a bed suggests you are looking for domestic security/happiness
  • children - There's just way too much out there on seeing children in a dream that I don't even know where to begin, so I think the best is just to state the obvious... I WANT CHILDREN! AND I WANT THEM NOW! They also seem to represent the fact that I need to take time off to cater to  MY inner child, which I obviously don't do enough of.
  • hotel - To see a hotel in your dream signifies a new state of mind or a shift in personal identity. You are undergoing some sort of transition and need to move away from your old habits and old way of thinking. You need to temporarily escape your daily life.
As for Abu Dhabi, I think that was in my dream because a friend of my sisters is spending time over there for a month. I have no real other reason why that would pop into  my head. The mind really is a strange place, huh?

So, what do ya think? Any good dream analyzers out there?

01 January 2011

Up in Flames

We may have found ourselves a new ritual to ring in the New Year. As I said in my last entry, B and I decided to spend the last few days of 2010 at my parents' cabin. We hiked, read books, napped, drank some yummy beer and mostly detached from the real world for a few days.  We intended to do some cross country skiing too, but the snow melted. I wish the weather would figure out what it wants to do with itself. I really do love winter and would prefer there be snow on the ground if its going to be so cold. Somehow it makes the cold more tolerable.

Anyways, we had a brilliant idea, albeit not original, to write down the things we wanted to let go of from 2010.

And then we made a beautiful fire in the fireplace and tossed the list into the flames. With that, we hope to put the anxiety, depression, jealousy, fear and dissapointments of 2010 to rest. We said good-bye to the following information searching and efforts towards our baby:
  • exploratory laparoscopy
  • 10+ vials of blood taken to test for various blood and immune disorders
  • drives to and from Chicago in the same day to participate in an IVF clincal trial
  • a failed IVF clinical trial, not only failed, but horrendus day of transfer
  • nasty nasty chinese herbal tea, boiled, strained, choked down
  • another SHG
  • acupuncture with two different acupuncturists
  • an amazing amount of supplements
And hopefully we said good by to our last year of being without a child....

(oh, and yes, I finally downloaded the hipstamatic app for my iphone) 

Thank you B for helping me through 2010. It wasn't an easy one, but you made it as easy as it could be. I love you with all of my heart and I hope and pray that 2011 brings us our baby, because I don't want to repeat another year like the last few.