Here we go again!!

We're going for it again! We're taking another leap of faith!


Spring cleaning

I was doing some 'spring cleaning', going through my kitchen cabinets, straightening and grouping and alphabetizing the food items. Go ahead and laugh. I know I'm a little overboard with the alphabetizing thing, but I need to have everything in order. I guess I need control over something (as many of you know that when suffering from infertility, the thing that hits the hardest is that there is no control over what seems to be a basic fundamental human function...procreation), and being an over-zealous neat freak is one thing I can control. I was happily going about my business arranging and straightening things, from one cabinet to the next. I didn't even realize where in my kitchen cabinets I was. I was just going through the motions - open cabinet, straighten things, make sure items were in their proper spots, close cabinet, and move onto the next cabinet. So I get to the very far corner cabinet at the top and open it without realizing where I was at or what I had kept in that cabinet. Lo and behold, I was staring at the cabinet contents and couldn't move. In this particular cabinet, I had stored all the meds...not just any meds...but THE meds. From every single cycle. Even way back when to my IUI days. <-- What a joke! Oh and while I'm at it, I might as well fess up that I even kept all the receipts and the notebook of my BBT charts..(Nice to know that I ovulate but what good does that do when the problem is male factor?)... Basically every single thing that had to do with ttc for about 15 years. Anyway...

So there I was just staring at all the meds, and all the memories come flooding back full force. Memories of hope, Jerry giving me the shots, ultrasounds, surgeries, transfers, BFN phone calls, desperation, WTF follow-up appointments, anger, etc. came flooding back to me.

I'm sure those of you who've done IVF at least once know exactly what each item is for. But I'm going to list them for those who haven't just to show all what I was willing to put into my body just for a chance to have what everyone else in the free world can have for FREE.

-- Needles of varying guages, new ones in their unopened packages and old ones in the many red sharps containers

-- Syringes

-- Empty vials of Lupron, Menopur, Follistim, Repronex, Cetrotide, hCG

-- Empty kits

-- Birth control pills (contradictory, huh?)

-- Containers of Clomid, Prometrium, Estrace & Dexamethasone (even have some leftover pills)

-- Crinone gel

-- Climara patches

-- Vivelle patches

I just couldn't toss them. These things represent my life, who I was and still am.

So I closed the cabinet door and moved on...at least for now.

Btw, I would pull out all the meds and put them on my kitchen table and take a pic to post, but I'm not sure if I could get them to fit back in so neatly. Maybe next time.


Result after 3 IVFs, 4 FETs, 63 embryos...(birth & baby mentioned)

As you can tell by the baby ticker above, our baby has arrived!! OMG, I can't believe I just wrote that! After all the heartache that we've went through, I never thought "it" could happen to us. That's something that only happens to other people, not us.

I won't go into detail here on this blog about our birth story, as I know this may be a sensitive subject to some of you. I get that. So I will create another blog that is all about our baby (I will be back later to post the link). And for those that feel up to it to reading it, then great! But if not, it's fine as well. Like I said before, I get what it feels like to still be struggling, chasing after a dream which may or may not come true. I remember all too well waiting patiently for our turn... Our turn at getting the BFP phone call, our turn to finally see two lines on those evil pee sticks, our turn to see and hear our baby's heartbeat, our turn to hold our baby in our loving and waiting arms, our turn at happiness...

Although I am overjoyed (ok, overjoyed can't begin to describe it), I still am dealing with all the emotions from day 1 of ttc. Our journey to parenthood, to finally start living again...It has not come easy, cheap or without debilitating pain, sorrow, and loss. My scars run deep and I will never be the same person I was before all this started. I am changed. Forever. Our baby has brought a sense of healing to some degree. But I will always have a deep, dark hole in my heart for all the babies we have lost. We believe that life begins at conception, so all those embryos that were genetically abnormal and thus discarded (I still have nightmares about what we did)...Well, I know we will have to answer for that one day.

On the outside, I may seem like I have it all together. But when you scratch the surface, you'll see a whole different picture. I didn't do all the things that I had planned on doing when pg, you know all the "normal" things that a pg person does - baby shower, maternity pictures, shopping at Babies-R-Us or in the baby section at Target or Walmart. Instead, I was deep with worry and anxiety - for I know all too well that it- my happiness- could all be taken away from me in an instant. So I didn't really let myself be happy. Even today, I can't allow myself to really enjoy being happy.

I have decided not to close out this blog, as one day we will be back on this road for our 2 no result embryos that are still frozen at CCRM. (It breaks my heart that we can't afford to move to Denver, as I want to be near our frozen embryos.) We cannot abandon them. I'm hoping and praying that at least one of them is normal. However, I'm not sure if I'll cycle again, to try to get at least one known normal to transfer with the 2 no results. I don't know if I can take another BFN. Another factor would be money. We've spent close to $150,000 (no infertility insurance) out-of-pocket to become parents. So in the meantime we'll take some time to try to pay down the credit cards, medical loans, and second mortgage. We can't wait too long, as age is a factor.

So for now, I thank you for keeping up with me on this heartbreaking journey. Thank you for your support, crying with me, venting with me, and understanding. You all have played an instrumental role in my life and will forever be in my heart. I offer you prayers, well wishes, good thoughts ...that your road to parenthood will come true.


The final two week wait

Today, I am 37w2d pregnant! It been like forever since I've blogged. I've had a really rough time with this pregnancy. That's why I haven't been updating. I appreciate all of your concern and I feel badly for not updating you all.

The last time I posted, I was extremely nauseous. Guess what - Nothing has changed. Zofran is still my best friend. ha ha Because of of the constant nausea, I haven't been able to eat much. As a consequence, I've lost about 25 lbs. Normally, I'd be thrilled. What woman wouldn't want to lose a few pounds, right? But not during pregnancy. Thankfully, my weight has steadied toward the end of the second trimester.

In addition to the nausea, we found out that we have marginal cord insertion. That's when the umbilical cord is at the edge of the placenta. When I had the bleed early on (at around 6 weeks pg), the placenta must've hit a big artery when it was digging in. And when the placenta hit the artery, it stopped growing in that direction and started growing in the opposite direction. So the umbilical cord is left at the edge of the placenta. The reason that both my OB and perinatologist are a bit concerned is that the umbilical cord might not be as firmly planted as if it was in the center of the placenta. And there might've possibly been some issues with the umbilical cord not passing on enough nutrients to the baby or the umbilical cord detaching (worse case scenario). My doctors have been keeping a close eye on me and the baby. I've been seeing the OB every week and the peri about every three or four weeks.

Earlier this week, during my 36w5d peri appointment, it was discovered that the baby measured in the 37th percentile (6 lbs 3 oz) so he's a little on the small side. Oh did I mention that we're having a boy!!!! Anyway, the ultrasound also revealed that I had low amniotic fluid. Jerry and I both freaked out. My peri said that it could be caused by a few things, including dehydration or the placenta not functioning as well. All I heard was the latter, so we started freaking out. Thankfully for my sanity, I had an appointment with my OB a couple of days later. So on Tuesday, I've been keeping track of my water intake more diligently. Jerry would give me water and keep track of how much I've been drinking.

At my OB appointment last Wednesday (37w), we spoke with her about our concerns. So she gave us "the works" - cervical check, fetal monitor, and biophysical profile (BPP). My cervix has thinned, which is normal at this stage of the pregnancy. I was put on the fetal monitor, and everything was normal. The baby wasn't moving that much, so I stayed on the monitor for a really long time. I didn't mind though. There's something about hearing his beautiful heartbeat (really sounds like horses galloping) that puts my mind at ease. Then my OB did the BPP and saw that the amniotic fluid was within the normal range and gave me a score of 8 out of 10. So maybe I was a little dehydrated. My OB wanted me to have another BPP the next day (last Thursday) and then two more next week.

So yesterday, I had my BPP at my OB's office. The baby measured in at 6 lbs 12 oz. I'm not sure if the baby grew that much or maybe just a different person doing the measuring (peri's ultrasound tech vs OB's ultrasound tech). The amniotic fluid was still within the normal range. And the umbilical cord blood flow was good as well. Whew!

This has been a long, rough, and lonely road. I don't feel like we've beat infertility. We'll always be infertile. Instead, we're one of the lucky ones that found a way to by-pass it. This baby "saved" us. Not in the sense of "saving" us as a couple (we've become closer than ever through this struggle) but "saving" us in another sense. We were both at the end of our ropes, not knowing how to get past the feeling of loneliness, despair, hopelessness. That's all we knew for the past 10 years. And now, we look forward to starting another chapter in our life. I am planning on starting another blog, as I don't think "Empty Vessel" applies anymore. But I will let you all know!

Thank you for keeping up with me and for all of your support! You have been there for me during my lowest point. I wish you all the best and may each & everyone of you receive your miracle baby(ies) one day!!!


9w6d update

As you can tell by the above picture, I am extremely nauseous. The nausea started at 6w1d, and I am exhausted. Ok, first of all, let me say that the term morning sickness is misleading. I'm having ALL day and night sickness. This, by far, has been the hardest on my physically. I pant when I breathe. My heart rate has been hovering around 51 bpm when my DH takes it at home (my usual heart rate is around 60). However, my pulse is still strong. My blood pressure has been hovering around 110/70.

I'm supposed to be eating 2200 calories a day, but I'm lucky to get at least 500 calories. I've tried all the typical remedies, including crackers and ginger ale. Nothing helps. My OB prescribed me Zofran, but I'm hesitant to take it as it's a Class B drug. I'm on Neevo, a prescription prenatal vitamin. I'm also on Folgard (for the MTHFR). And DHA, which is over-the-counter. And I'm still on baby aspirin.

I'm experiencing new things with my body. The first thing that I noticed, during my 2WW, is sore boobs. I'm 9w6d today, and they're still very sore and they're, um, a bit bigger. lol I've also been urinating quite often. I've been having round ligament pains and mild cramping every now and then. I'm bloated most of the time. I'm irregular, despite trying to eat foods high in fiber. I have insomnia, only getting about 4 hours of sleep.

CCRM is in the process of weaning me off my meds. As of yesterday, I'm down to one Vivelle patch every other day and 1 Prometrium suppository daily. I go in for another blood work this Thursday. Perhaps when I'm off these meds, my nausea will subside.


1st Ultrasound

A couple of days ago, I had my 1st ultrasound appointment. It was at my OB's office. I thought I was there just for the ultrasound, but they did the whole 1st prenatal visit - which got me a little bit upset. I had to give a urine sample, which I didn't mind. But the next part of the visit had both me and Jerry really upset. The nurse practitioner inserted a speculum and took cervical scrapings to check for STD's. I told her that it wasn't necessary, but she did it anyway. Next she gave me a pelvic exam. I was freaking out by this point because I was so afraid that she might hurt the baby in some way. Let's just say she wasn't the most gentle. I had taken such good care of my lower abdomen, not even sleeping on my stomach (I'm a stomach sleeper btw) for fear of hurting something. And here she comes all pressing on my lower abdomen. After she was finished, I was so mad at myself for letting her do that. I should've stopped her, but everything was so quick and I was just so nervous about the ultrasound.


Above is a picture of our little "grain of rice" with a heartrate of 127. Jerry and I both were in tears when we heard the heartbeat on the ultrasound. I usually don't show my emotions in public, but this was the 2nd time that I've cried in public. The first was when we got the bfp phone call and the second was when we heard the heartbeat. The ultrasound tech said that I have a subchorionic hematoma - a small one. Now I know the source of my bleeding. I haven't bled since then though (knock on wood).

I also had bloodwork done that day. My E2 was 1119 and my P4 was 17.7. Because of the bleeding, CCRM wants me to stay on my current dosage of meds. So I'm still on Prometrium suppositories three times a day, one 2mg Estrace tablet daily, and 4 Vivelle patches every other day. I've had to order the meds from Freedom every week now. I wonder what the FedEx person thinks with all these deliveries.

As for how I'm feeling physically, I am severely nauseous. I usually don't do nausea really well in the first place, but this has really drained me. I've been getting only about 4 hours of sleep each night. I have a prescription for Zofran, but I haven't taken it yet. Although I've been told that it's "safe" for pg women, there hasn't been studies that it's actually safe. I'm going to try to hold off as long as I can. Luckily, our insurance covers it so we only have to pay $60 for 12 pills. Compared to fertility meds, it's "cheap" so we're not complaining.

I have another bloodwork next Wednesday to re-check my hormone levels. Hopefully I can be weaned off these meds soon. Then on April 1st, I have an appointment with my OB. So it's another two weeks away. Isn't it funny how my life is always a 2 week wait...


Guilt, it's a funny thing...

I've had thoughts about this post for quite some time now...Well, ever since my first beta. That's part of the reason why I haven't been posting as much. Although I feel very blessed about the outcome so far for FET #4, there's a big part of me that's still stuck in the bfn mode. I guess I don't know how else to feel. I was so used to failure after failure after failure, I thought that I would be over-the-moon happy when I finally achieved the ever-elusive bfp. Instead, I feel guilty. Let me explain.

For the past 10 years or so, I've received invitations to many baby showers and have even received birth announcements in the mail. Christmastime has always been especially hard. That's when we would receive cutesy Christmas cards with family pictures in them. People even talk about how so and so is pregnant or finally got pregnant after trying for how ever long. Whatever. I always find it amusing how fertiles feel that by telling me that so and so is pregnant, it'd give me hope. Are you kidding me? How would that make me feel better? If only they knew how much it hurt to receive those things in the mail and hear other people's success stories. But I do know. I totally get it. So when I got the bfp, I thought of all my online sisters who are still struggling with infertility. In a way, I'm still in that world. I don't know if I would know how to function any other way. You see, more than 10 years of my life have been wasted dreaming, planning, hoping, fearing, failing, and crying. I've alienated family and lost friends. But now, people expect me to be all "better" after receiving the bfp. But I'm far from being "cured."

I think I might be suffering from some type of PTSD. I don't know. A friend of mine (one of the few that infertility didn't rob me of) suggested that I might need to see a counselor. But where would I find one that specializes in whatever funk I'm in? I wouldn't even know where to start looking...Maybe someone who would really understand the intimate emotions associated with infertility, perhaps having gone through it herself. Maybe I'm "incurable" and that this is what it's like for me. I don't know.



My nurse finally called me this evening. She said that Dr. Schoolcraft isn't concerned about the spotting or the E2 level. But if it would make me feel better, I could take one Estrace pill orally at bedtime. Then my next hormone check (E2 and P4) will be next Tuesday, same day as the ultrasound.

So the nurse called my pharmacy but they didn't have the name brand in stock but could get it by tomorrow. The prescription said name brand preferred, so Jerry had to call around to several different pharmacies and finally lucked out. So I start taking the Estrace pills tonight. I've taken the pills before - for FETs 1 through 3. I don't remember having any adverse reactions, but then I've never been pg while taking them. We'll see.

As for the spotting, I'm still having a little bit of brownish spotting (sorry, tmi I know). It freaks me out every single time. But other ladies on the boards I visit have had similar spotting (some much worse) and had a good outcome. So that's reassuring.

We're still taking it one step at a time, as that's all we can do right now. Thank you all for your prayers and positive vibes and support. It means more to me than you'll ever know. I will continue to keep ya'll in my prayers and hope for the best for each and everyone of you.


6 Week update

I apologize for the hiatus, but I just haven't been on my computer. I've been using only the cell phone for my Internet stuff. Anyway...

I am 6 weeks pregnant today! It still seems so surreal to me. Ever since my nurse told us how far along we were (at 4 weeks 2 days), Jerry has woken up every morning and exclaimed how far along we are and then he kisses my belly. Awww. Jerry has been doing everything, and I mean e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g... Cooking, cleaning, laundry, yard work, grocery shopping, you name it he did it. He wouldn't let me lift a finger. The only thing I've been doing is being a lazy lump on a log. Whenever I get up, he asks me, "What are you doing?" or "What do you need? I'll get it for you." He's so good to me. What more could a girl want? I won't go into the mushy mode... lol

Here are some milestones that are going on with the baby this week:

The head, tail, and arm buds are easily recognizable.
The optic vesicles and lenses form.
Limb buds are present.
The earliest form of the liver, pancreas, lungs, thyroid gland, and heart appear.
Blood circulation is well established. The heart bulges from the body.
The cerebral brain hemispheres are enlarging.
In the stomach area, the primary intestinal loop is present.
At this time, the baby weighs 1/1,000 of an ounce and is a quarter of an inch long.

Amazing, isn't it?

Anyway, onto the update on me...

Last Wednesday, I had my 1st hormone check after the first beta. My E2 was 1500 (they want over 300) and P4 was 9.8 (they want over 6). I was told to stay on the 4 Vivelle patches every other day and Prometrium suppositories three times a day.

Last Thursday, I got the results of my 3rd hyper-coag panel. It wasn't the full panel, as they only re-tested the ones that came back abnormal (November '08) and then normal (January '09) for Protein-S and Plasminogen. So this third time (February '09) was going to be the tie-breaker, so to speak. The tests came back normal, with the Protein-S level at 103 (the norm is 58 - 150) and Plasminogen at 123 (the norm is 78 - 130). So it looks like I don't have to be on Lovenox, although I would gladly take it if need be.

This morning, I went for my 2nd hormone check. My E2 is 662 and P4 is 9.5. I am concerned about the big drop in my E2 level. That's a big drop, at least to me, to go from 1500 to 662 in one week without changing anything. As if I didn't have enough to worry about, this afternoon I started some brownish spotting. It's not much, but being the TP obsessor that I am, it's noticeable. Tomorrow, my nurse is going to discuss with Dr. Schoolcraft and call me back. I'm anxious to hear back from her.

I'm trying to remain calm, but it's so hard. We're just taking it one step at a time. Tomorrow, I'm looking forward to getting a call from my nurse. Then we'll know what's next (add more estrogen meds, another hormone check, etc.). My ultrasound is scheduled for March 17th - St. Patrick's Day. Hopefully, it'll be a lucky day for us. We need to hear at least one set of heart beat. Grow baby/babies grow. Mommy and Daddy love you and need you to grow. Please!!


My 2nd Beta is...

401 !!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you GOD!! That's a little more than double the 174 from Wednesday!!! Goodness!...Is this really happening???? I keep telling Jerry that it feels so surreal. He has to keep reminding me that it's definitely SO REAL. All these years of saying 'congratulations' to others, it feels so strange to be on the receiving end. I'm still having a little bit of trouble actually letting myself feel totally happy. I guess I'm going to have to allow myself to feel totally happy. That may take some time, especially after all these years of heartache.

For years and years, I've always bought the EPT brand of hpts. And every single time, that evil pee stick laughs and says "As if!" So today after the blood draw, we went to the Target near CCRM and bought an EPT. But I didn't use it until after I got the 2nd beta phone call. I wanted to make sure that this time, I'm going to beat it. And I did! I finally saw the POSITIVE sign!!

I know we've still got more hurdles to jump, but this is the furthest we've ever gotten. I don't know if I can ever feel like I've "crossed over" to the other side, as our struggle with infertility has been so long and painful. This is a whole new feeling, a feeling I've never felt before. So it's going to take some time to get used to it.

When Jerry and I were at the clinic this morning, I whispered to him, "This is the place that miracles happen." And he whispers back, "That's right." And then we said a little prayer for everyone going to CCRM and other clinics, that they get their miracles too. I want to say a special "Hi" to a lady I met in person at CCRM this morning. "G" came up to me and congratulated me on my bfp and let me know that she reads my blog. I was so touched, and I wish her much success! (And everyone that is struggling this horrible disease.)

We'll be leaving early tomorrow morning to head back home, so I will catch up with everyone's blogs as soon as I can. I will close this post by THANKING each and everyone of you for your comments and congratulations!! Ya'll don't know how much it means to me reading each congratulations comment.