Monday, March 30, 2009

Picture Time

What is happening in this picture?? It's multiple choice, so venture a guess.

A) Joel just showed me the awful picture he took of me on his phone, and I am so disgusted by it that it has brought me to tears.

B) I just beat my high score on Tetris.

C) I have the nurse on speaker-phone and she just told us that we are pregnant.

Kudos to you, if you answered C.

I thought that I would go my entire life without getting to utter those words.

It feels so weird to write those words, and even more strange to say them out loud.
I don't like to say them too much, I'm scared that I will jinx it.

After 3 years of struggling, begging, praying, and pleading, it finally worked.

God finally answered our prayers. I am so beyond thankful for making it this far.
We have a long way to go, so keep the prayers coming.
My initial HcG levels look great. They are nice and high and doubling like they should.
I have also been taking my fair share of home pregnancy tests just because they don't taunt me anymore with a stark white space.
There are two beautiful pink lines, and one is getting much darker than the control line.
Joel makes fun of me, but all of my SOP girls understand where I am coming from.
I should have kept them hidden from him, but I couldn't help but be so excited to show him how the line keeps getting darker.

I have a hormone level test on Friday, they'll check my P4. I'm hoping it looks good enough that I can stop the progesterone shots. I was already able to decrease my dose by half. They'll probably just switch me to the suppositories which are much more convenient.

We have an u/s in a few weeks to confirm a heartbeat. Please pray that we see one, because that is what I am so overly concerned about right now. We will also find out at that time how many babies there are. I'm almost positive there is only one.

Physically, I'm feeling great right now. I've got most of the early pregnancy stuff going on- cramping, super sore bbs, big bloat after I eat anything, peeing all the time, constant fatigue, waves of nausea. It's wonderful!! I have never loved anything more.
I thought that I would never get to experience this.
This is a gift. I am going to try to cherish every moment of it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Show and Tell

This is my very favorite little girl in the whole wide world! She couldn't get any more sweet, or perfect. I love to show her off.
Tomorrow my sister will turn 25, and Harper will be 4 weeks. What a fun day for them.
Harp has already grown so much.
Joel is pretty bummed that he hasn't gotten a chance so see her that much. He seemed proud of a something that I pointed out to him recently- he's Harper's only uncle.
I don't think that he had realized that. I'm sure that there are all sorts of uncle-type obligations that he feels he must fulfill now.

Happy Birthday Sister! Happy one month in the world Harper!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Counting the days

Aaaaah! I really want to know the outcome of this cycle, and at the same time I'm dreading it.
We'll find out sometime within the next 7 days. I have to go in for blood work a few times before they let me know the results.
I'm not telling anyone when it is happening because I don't need the added pressure of other people waiting for the results.
It will be difficult enough for us if it is bad news. We'll need to give ourselves a day or two to recover before sharing with the world.
If it's good news, then we might just like to bask in the glory of it. Maybe quietly celebrate the miracle with one another.

We have 3 snowbabies, if you didn't happen to notice it on the cycle history. 3 is a great number. A lot of people don't have any that make it to freeze, so we are some of the lucky ones. We are really happy with that number.

Friday, March 20, 2009


I just got the letter from my clinic in the mail today, although I wasn't expecting it until next week. For some reason, I had a feeling it would be waiting for us.
We have snowbabies. Frozen embryos.
I won't go into details about them now, but Joel and I feel very blessed.
If this cycle is a bust, then we will have frozen embies to transfer next time.
If this cycle works, then we have the hope of someday giving our child siblings.

This process is now becoming more difficult.
I can handle all the meds, shots, and pain like a pro.
It's the emotional aspect that is really the hardest.
We are happy, yet we grieve.
Of course, they all didn't make it to the freezing stage. We lost some along the way. My hopes were high since we hadn't lost any by Day 5.
Of course, we knew they all wouldn't survive.
They wouldn't have made it in my body either.


Derived from the Latin gluttire, meaning to gulp down or swallow, gluttony is the over-indulgence and over-consumption of food, drink, or intoxicants to the point of waste.

Anna or Annie, however you know me, is a glutton right now.

It might turn into a problem.
I cannot stop eating.
Huge amounts of food all the time and I don't stop eating until right before bed which is usually at midnight.
Now ?! Of all times?!
I should probably be eating really sensibly right now, but I can't seem to stop myself.
A gigantic ham sandwich with a bowl of strawberries doesn't sound like a bad lunch, unless you started it out with a big bowl of chips and salsa, a cup of trail mix, and breakfast only 3 hours earlier. Last night I ate 2 suppers, with a bowl of cereal in-between, and 2 snacks before bed.
The sick thing is that I have been eating like this for over a week and a half now, and I seem to have lost a pound. I am actually at one of my lowest weights right now (Not counting the really unhealthy thin of '99 when my panic attacks manifested- that was horrible). Somehow when other women gain weight during ivf, I lose it.
I have always been an "eater." I love to eat. It is one of my favorite hobbies: eating and napping.
I used to be able to eat like a horse. Then I turned 22, and I lost the ability to eat whatever I wanted and not gain a pound.
I think that all the hormones I am on have sparked the metabolism of a teenager again. That, or I am just really slow at processing all these extra calories.

Now that I have spoken it, I must change it. I admitted that I have a problem. Let's all hold me accountable.
"I, Annie, will start to eat like a normal human being...starting...Monday"

I am happy to say that I am almost one week into this 2ww and I am surviving.

I'm headed to a Special Olympics basketball tournament this weekend. Some of the guys at my house are playing at it. They are so excited to have me, Joel, and my mom there.
I was given explicit instructions to arrive with noisemakers, banners, and the proper colored apparel. They said that they are going to make some 3-pointers just for me.
I love my job.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

This wait just might kill me!

We have to wait two weeks before we have our betas done. I am only 3 days in, and it is really hard to think about having to wait 11 more days. This wait is by far going to be the hardest that we have done.
How am I feeling?
Well, my butt still hurts. It helps a little to sit in a shallow bath tub of hot water. Not too much water in the tub, since hot baths, hot tubs, saunas and jacuzzi's are just of few of the many things on my "NOT to do list"
There is also no swimming, high impact aerobics, horsebackriding(ha) waterskiing(haha), running, sex, alcohol, high amounts of caffeine, or lifting anything over 10 lbs.

The rest of me feels alright. I'm a little crampy, which I guess at this point is fine. If it were next week and I was feeling like this, I would be really upset. I'm just hoping that the crampiness is the embies burrowing in for the long haul.

Emotionally I am okay. I am trying to be optimistic, yet I am preparing myself for the worst at the same time.
We know that this may not work, that the embryos may not stick and live. The odds are highly in our favor, but Joel and I tend to be at the losing end of really good odds. Our embryos looked great, and we still had a lot of them growing on transfer day, so we will take that as a good sign
I'm just trying to take it one day at a time.
I'm not daydreaming about babies, a pretty nursery, or cute clothes. Those daydreams ended years ago. I lost my innocence and naivety with so many other women I know. Trying to have a baby doesn't mean you'll ever have one, and pregnancy doesn't always equal baby.

I sound like a Debbie Downer. I'm really not down. I'm trying to remain neutral. Being too positive just makes the crash harder if it doesn't work.

Joel and I have done everything in our power to make this work. It is no longer in our hands. Whatever is suppose to happen, will happen.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Meet our embryos!
They are the most beautiful things I have ever seen. To everyone else they look like a cluster of cells, but to Joel and I, they are our babies.
This is the closest to parents we have ever been. These embryos are ours. They are Joel, and they are me. We love them so much already.
The larger embryo is progressing a little faster than the other. It is already starting to hatch out of the zona pellucida. Bet you didn't know that human babies hatch out of shells, did ya? They have to hatch to allow the trophectoderm to attach to the uterine wall. If you look closely at the outer layer of the bigger blast you will notice the trophectoderm, that's what will become the placenta.

This has been the scariest day of all. We couldn't sleep last night. We both couldn't sit still during the ride to the clinic.
We waited to be called back to the meeting room. The embryologist walked us back to one of the offices. As I was following him I caught a glimpse of a picture of our embryos on our med file stack. It made my heart jump.
He started out by handing us the picture, I couldn't stop smiling and staring at it.

The embryologist went over all of our numbers. Of the 16 eggs that were retrieved, 12 were mature. All 12 of those eggs were ICSI'd, but one of them didn't fertilize.
All 11 of the eggs that did fertilize continued to grow, we didn't lose any along the way! The two best were the ones that we transferred to me today. The rest will be watched through tomorrow, and then frozen.
Our doctor told us that it can't get any better. Apparently we make good, healthy embryos.

I've been on bed-rest all day today. I hate it. I feel worthless. All I can get up to do is use the bathroom. I'm bored. I just keep putting my hands on my belly and asking the embies to stick with me.

9 more months is all I ask. Please stay. Please.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Pain in the Butt

My butt hurts. Well, it's more like my hip/butt area.
Unfortunately the shots never really end during ivf. I've moved on from the twice a day injections with the small needles to the once a day with the large needles.
These ones are not as easy as the last. They're the intramuscular ones that I thought I would have to do myself. We questioned our doctor on the day of the retrieval about me doing them myself, or doing the injections in the afternoon when Joel would be home to give them to me. They are suppose to be done in the evenings between 7pm and 9pm, but we both work in the evenings.
He nixed the idea of giving them to myself. He said it would be absolutely fine if I had them in the afternoon.
Joel has been doing a great job. I get it all ready in the syringe. He does the alcohol swab, the stabbing,checking for blood, slowly injecting, and then heat pack afterwards.
This med is in oil. Nice and thick, so you have to warm it up a bit so it comes out the of needle easier. Then it's best to heat the injection site so it doesn't just sit in the middle of your muscle, like a lump of oil.
It doesn't hurt right away. Mostly towards the end of the evening when I am at work. Walking up and down the stairs kills me. One side of me feels on fire, the other side is only slightly less painful. As soon as my one hip feels all better we have to jab it again.
It is a never-ending circle of pain, but I'll do it joyfully. We are blessed to have this option, and even more blessed to be able to use it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Day 5 Embryo Transfer

I just retrieved the message from my medvoice line. It looks like we will be doing a Day 5 blastocyst transfer! This is great news.
Joel and I were hoping to do a day 5 transfer versus the 3 day because it has a higher success rate.
I am so happy right now. They didn't tell me how many embryos we have, or how they are looking which is a bummer. We must have a decent number that look good right now since they are willing to allow them to develop for a few more days. If the embryos aren't looking very good, they will usually transfer them on day 3, so that they are in their natural environment, instead of a laboratory.
I suppose that it is better not to know anyway. I would be completely paranoid about how they are developing. It's best just to leave it in the Lord's hands, with the assistance of the embryologist. I can't do anything to change how they are maturing anyway.

The transfer will take place on Sunday at 11:00 am. Exactly 120 hours from the time that my eggs were retrieved.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Wait

In the world of trying to conceive there is something called the "two week wait". This is the two weeks that occur after your attempt to become pregnant and before your period shows up, or doesn't show up.
They are long, and agonizing. You pray, and plead. You analyze every twinge and ache in your abdomen. You wonder if is an implantation cramp, or a menstrual cramp. You cringe every time you head to the bathroom, absolutely sickened by the thought of finding that your period has started.
It especially hurts when you have had to endure them time and time again, and every time the wait ends in a negative cycle.
Right now I am experiencing a different kind of wait. It's the fertilization report wait. It is just as agonizing, but luckily it only lasts a few days. I'm completely paranoid. It keep thinking that they will call to tell me that all of my eggs were bad, or that none of our embryos lived. It's difficult to remain positive sometimes. I know that I should. I have to literally pinch myself each time I start to think badly about.

While we wait for the fertilization report, I will leave you with some links to look at:


This is our clinic: RMIA, Reproductive Medicine and Infertility Associates.

Everyone there is so absolutely kind to us. They are very prompt about getting back to us when we have questions. My doctor is the greatest. He is such a kind man, you can tell that he really cares about his patients. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the most perfect clinic for us.

This is a video explaining the journey that infertile couples take. It is so beautifully done, and explains in perfect words how most of us feel.

This is one of Joel's favorite websites to bum around at. It has links to interesting web pages.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Egg Retrieval

Today was one of our big days. The day of the egg retrieval.
Joel gave me my trigger shot on Sunday so that my eggs had reached their final maturation stage for today. The retrieval takes place exactly 36 hours after the trigger shot.
I met with the nurses and nurse anesthesiologist. My vitals were all taken, and the procedure explained by my doctor. The iv was started and we headed across the hall to the retrieval room. The nurse told me that the anesthesia that were going to give me would give me some amnesia.
I hopped onto the bed, the oxygen tubes were placed in my nose, and I was strapped in.
The next thing I remember was chatting with Joel back in recovery. According to him I had been awake for a good 10 minutes, although I couldn't remember a second of it.
Apparently I had chatted with the doctor, nurses, and asked Joel numerous times how many eggs we had.He answered that they had gotten 15 eggs.
A few minutes into our conversation, the part that I remember, and embryologist popped her head in to tell us that they had found one more egg. So we have a total of 16 eggs!
During the egg retrieval they took a large needle, Joel said it was at least 18 inches, and inserted it through the vaginal wall into each ovary. It was guided by an ultrasound image. The needle has a small suction and gently removed the follicular fluid within each mature follicle. The fluid traveled down a plastic tube into a test tube. Each filled test tube was passed through the window of the retrieval room into the embryology lab. The technicians in the embryology lab analyzed the follicular fluid and searched for eggs. Each egg that was found was placed into it's own petri dish where it is determined if it is mature and healthy.
All mature and healthy eggs will be fertilized.
We won't know how many eggs successfully fertilized and became embryos until Thursday afternoon. They will leave a message on the medvoice to tell us what day the embryo transfer will take place. It will either be Friday or Sunday.
Until then we just pray that the Lord and the lab take care of our embryos.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Day 8

I'm bloated. Completely stuffed with eggs and follicular fluid. None of my pants fit in the waist. I can't button or zip any of them. I went out and bought a B.ella band, one of those maternity bands to hold your pants up. I took a picture for everyone to see. Joel said it doesn't compare to what it looks like in person. It's really funny actually. I think that my guys at work are starting to wonder if I'm pregnant. I catch them staring at the bloat, then minutes later they are talking about babies. It's especially gigantic right where my ovaries are(I can locate them easily from the scars left from my surgeries). I'm hoping they remove all the painful bloat along with the eggs.
On to the news: Joel and I took an early morning trip over to Woodbury where our clinic's main office is located. The Edina clinic isn't open on the weekends.
I was the last b/w and u/s patient of the morning, so we had a nice long wait before being seen. I took a look at a travel magazine (bad idea). I think I need another vacation. We decided that when we are finally pregnant we will go somewhere to celebrate. Heading back to Mexico sounds good right about now.

Again, everything looks great.
My endometrial lining is now at an 8.8, triple striped, which is wonderful considering it doesn't need to be that thick until the transfer, which is about a week away still. Just that much more time for it to get cushy and make a nice home for the embryos that we will be putting transferring back.
We measured 20 almost mature follicles, with a handful of smaller ones!
I will be triggering tomorrow night.
It will be Joel's first time giving me a shot. My mom, and sister have always done my trigger shots before. This one has to be at 11:00 pm and he has the night off. I am sure he will enjoy inflicting pain on me, after the pain in the butt that I have been to him these past few weeks.
Everything is scheduled, and we will be doing the egg retrieval late Tuesday morning. Unless my E2 levels come back and indicate a change. I doubt that will happen, so right now we are planning on Tuesday.
Joel was told that he can be in the retrieval room while they are extracting my eggs. This, of course, made me jealous. I am fascinated by this whole process. He gets to see it first-hand.
He reminded me that I will be there.
I told him that being "put under" doesn't count. I think it would be so amazing to see the process. I guess having him in the room is second best. He can give me a play by play of what happened after I wake up.

Only a little longer until we have our very own embryos, our very own tiny baby seedlings. I just pray that the rest of this cycle goes as smoothly as the first part has.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Day 6

Joel and I were at the clinic bright and early this morning.
He, of course, sat there all calm, cool and collected.
I, on the other hand, sat on the edge of my chair, and was practically hyperventilating until the ultrasound was performed.
I had pretty much convinced myself yesterday that this cycle was a bust and would be canceled due to my terrible E2 numbers on Monday.
I knew that as soon as my ovaries hit the screen the doctor was going to say "Huh, not much happening here."

Instead her response this morning was "Wow, you have a lot going on in there!"
I could have jumped off the table and hugged her.

Everything looks good. We counted 11 measurable follicles, and 19 smaller ones.

Follicles are the sacs that the eggs grow in. Eggs are far too small to be able to see on an ultrasound, so instead they look at the follicles. The doctor measures the size of their growth to determine their maturity. The follicles that continue to grow will contain an egg. When they get to a size of around 1.6 cm to 2.0 cm, then they are typically mature. When dealing with injectable meds and ivf the doctors also perform bloodwork to measure your estradiol, this is a second indicator of the number of maturing eggs. Estradiol levels are typically 150 -200 per mature egg. It will continue to rise as my follicles grow.
IVF is an amazing science. If we collect too few eggs, then the rate of pregnancy is much lower because there are fewer embryos to choose from. Too many eggs, then they tend to lead to lower quality eggs. Lower quality eggs create lower quality embryos that are not as likely to stick and continue growing once transferred back to you.
For where I am in my cycle, my u/s scan puts me right where I want to be. I am still waiting to check my medvoice line. My E2 numbers could indicate a change.
Our next u/s and b/w is on Saturday. I doubt that I will be ready to trigger that night. My initial calendar has me triggering that night. I think that perhaps after another u/s and b/w on Sunday, and/or perhaps Monday that I'll be ready for retrieval on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Bloodwork, Day 3

I started to panic this afternoon when I wasn't able to get through to my medvoice line. I kept getting a recording telling me that the lines were full. I tried back every 15 minutes to see if I had a message waiting. I figured that I didn't, I haven't had one yet. I am pretty standard/by-the-book when it comes to my blood and hormone levels, and I don't require much out of the ordinary when it comes to stimulating my egg production.
I sort of gasped when I was finally able to get through the recording only to find out that I DID have a message waiting for me. And not a good one.
It appears as though my ovaries aren't doing much right now, so we have to drastically increase my dosages. The drama of it all is that they are having me increase my Bravelle, the drug that I only had 4 vials of to begin with. The message told me that I needed to take an additional 2 this evening, and 3 tomorrow morning.
Funny! I only have one in my fridge!
I wasn't able to retrieve my message until after my clinic closed, so I had to track down the nurse on-call to deal with my dilemma. I told her the situation. She was quite surprised to see that I was getting such a huge increase in dosages. It is written time and time again in the "Patient Handbook" that we have from the clinic to 'Be prepared with extra meds.' Well, sorry we couldn't be prepared for not having any sort of stimulation at all. Not from me. I am the girl that took the lowest dose of Clomid available and still managed to produce three eggs that cycle!
We were able to call-in this evenings and tomorrows dose to a pharmacy in Eden Prairie. Very few pharmacy carry these drugs, since they are injectable fertility meds. My insurance won't cover these since I didn't use the mail order pharmacy that I am suppose to. In an emergency situation, you don't really have the choice. The out of pocket expense was only $340.00 which isn't bad, although it really sort of is considering it is only 2 dosages worth of the med. It is also only one drug of the five that I am taking right now.
Anyway the situation was taken care of when Joel was able to call a friend to pick up the med for us. We were in Northfield today and the med drama didn't start until 5:00, the pharmacy closed at 5:30. No matter how fast we sped, we wouldn't have been able to make it in time. Amy is a life saver. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I am not really sure how I am not responding with the way my ovaries feel. I am in pain and I am bloated.

I got so see my favorite niece today. She is so amazing. I love everything about her. I could watch her all day long. She makes the cutest little faces when she sleeps. She is so smart already. She can turn her head, and pick up her neck. She can already roll onto her side! She is pretty much the most perfect child every created! I am most definitely not biased. The greatest news is that my shingles have scabbed over, so I was able to hold her since I am not contagious anymore!
I could cuddle her all day long. I cannot wait to go and see her and my wonderful sissy again.

That's all for today. I wrote a book. I'll have more on Thursday. We'll be having some more blood work and an ultrasound that day. We'll get to count the number of follicles that are growing. There have to be some by then!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Emotional basketcase

I am absolutely an emotional freak right now.
I guess it's a good thing that I am able to recognize it.
I was printing off pictures of Harper at Target on Friday and I started crying. I was looking at some baby clothes, and I started crying. I was talking to my mom on the phone about how I am feel so sad about not getting to be near her right now and I started crying. I am so absolutely in love with this little girl. Those are my happy tears...
I have also had my share of breakdown tears. I was sobbing and gasping for breath between my tears on Friday afternoon. Joel was sweet, he asked me to dance to try and cheer me up. I turned down his offer. Everything was just building up.
I am stressed out about this cycle, work and life.
Having shingles does not help the situation. It is just exaggerating everything. My body absolutely aches, my throat is sore, my stomach is upset, my arm feels like it is being burned and stabbed, and rubbed raw with sandpaper, and I am soo tired.
Today seems better. Work has been quiet. My blisters are healing up, although the pain still lingers.
I feel like I am running out of areas on my stomach to stab. The first bruise has a friend that has joined, so that limits the available space. I think I might try my thigh tomorrow to give my stomach a break. Especially since I have started the 2 shots a day routine, and that will continue for at least the next week.
I have already noticed the meds working. I can feel my ovaries if that makes any sense. It's only the second day of stim meds and I can feel them working already. It's just an occasional ache. This is suppose to be the time that I appreciate. The time before I get ridiculously bloated with eggs and follicular fluid. The time that I don't have to stress about any little cramp or twinge and wonder if it is my period starting, and signaling the end of another failed attempt.
I've begun using a meditation cd. It is designed for women going through ivf. Right now we are focusing on breathing deeply, closing out the outside world, and feeling the systems of our bodies prepare our eggs. It seems to work. I am using it before bed. I have noticed that I fall asleep quickly and sleep really heavily.
Tomorrow is a blood level check. They will be looking at my estradiol. That indicates how my eggs are growing. If it is not where they would like it to be then they will adjust my meds accordingly. I am hoping not to have a message on my medvoice line tomorrow. I would like this cycle to stay on track for us.