First shot!

Last night, knowing that I will start my shots, Jerry and I watched a video on how to give the different medications that I will be taking. Even though we've done this before, we just wanted to make sure and are afraid to mess up. After all, it's been almost exactly two years since our last IVF. As we were watching the video, I started to stress out. I remembered how I reacted to the fertility meds the first time around. I don't want a repeat of that. But then I had in my mind that this new clinic that we're going to is a million times better than the one here in town. I will be monitored more closely - so closely that I will be having ultrasounds and bloodwork every day that we're in Denver.

This morning, when I woke up, I was getting things ready for my shot. I wiped the countertop down with alcohol. Then I got out the two vials of meds: Menopur powder in one vial and a saline solution in the other vial. I flicked off the metal tops of the vials, revealing a rubber top. Then I wiped the rubber tops with the alcohol swabs. As I waited for the alcohol to dry, I opened the syringe with the 1.5 inch mixing needle. I took off the cap of the needle and stuck it through the center of the rubber top of the saline solution. I withdrew 1 cc of the saline solution and transferred it to the Menopur vial. The powder dissolved instantly. Then I turned the bottle upside down and withdrew all the solution into the syringe. Then I put the cap back on the needle and twisted it off. I then put the 0.5 inch 27 guage needle on the syringe. I flicked the air bubbles until they rose to the top and gently pushed the plunger until I got all the air bubbles out and saw a drop at the tip of the needle. Then I recapped the needle and set it on the countertop. And I assumed the position (I laid on my back our leather ottoman).

This is where Jerry comes in. Jerry wipes down a small area on my belly, near the belly button. Today, he chose the right side of my stomach to give the shot. After he wiped my skin, he fanned it dry. Then he pinched my skin (trust me, he didn't have trouble finding enough fat to pinch) and tapped it several times to find just the right spot. I find that it is less painful if the skin is a bit firmer when the needle is going in. Anyway, he found the spot where he's going to inject the medicine and he said he's sorry and that he loves me and OUCH! It hurt going in and it burned as the medicine was being injected and it still burned for a couple of minutes afterward.

I could tell that Jerry felt really bad for hurting me. After he gave me the shot, he asked me if I still love him. Of course I do! What a silly question. I guess he just feels really bad that I am having to go through IVF again. He freaked out last week while we were driving back home from his brother Tim's house and talked about canceling the IVF. I know how bad he feels and it just breaks my heart knowing that he is feeling all this guilt. I know it's not his fault that he has a genetic disorder that prevents him to have children the "regular" way. Ever since we found out about the Robertsonian Translocation, he's been wanting to find out how he got it. I don't blame him; I would want to know, too. However, the genetic counselor told us that there is no way of knowing without testing his siblings and/or his parents. So for now, we just don't know; and it looks like we will never know. I'm just hoping and praying that he gets closure to this issue when we have our baby in our arms.

Tonight, I get my Follistim injection. Jerry said that he remembers how to assemble the cartridge, so we'll see. At least I don't have to do any mixing. It's all prepared in the vial, and all Jerry has to do is to assemble the "pen" and that's it. For the subsequent injections, all he has to do is to change the needle.

Tomorrow, after I get my Menopur injection, we leave for Dallas. I'm not really sure how long it'll take to get there, as every time we mapquest it, we get a different number of hours travel time. I'm just hoping that we make it in time for me to get the evening injection. Otherwise, Jerry will have to give me the injection in a rest area or parking lot somewhere. Yikes!

I'm going to miss my cats so much. I know they'll be in good, capable hands. Special thanks to Carol and Jimmy and Jamie for taking care of our cats and house! And many thanks to everyone who's praying for us! God bless you!


The meds have arrived!

This morning, I received my fertility meds via FedEx overnight. Gotta love the FedEx! It's like Christmas in June around here.

So Jerry and I opened the package and checked off the list of meds. Follistim Kit. Check. Cetrotide kit. Check. Menopur. Check. Prometrium. Check. Vivelle patches. Check. Medrol. Check. Tetracycline. Check. Various sizes of syrines, mixing needles, and injection needles. Check. And last but not least, biohazard waste container. Check. So it looks like everything's there.

The Follistim and Cetrotide have to be refridgerated, so I put them in plastic bags and placed them in the fridge. I put the other things in the cooler that we will be taking with us.

Jerry has to re-learn how to put together the Follistim injection kit. It's been two years exactly that he's last used the Follistim on me. He doesn't seem nervous though, so that's a good thing. He will have to learn how to put together the Cetrotide injections. The Menopur should be the same as the Repronex that I used for my first IVF. Menopur is just a more pure form of the ovarian stimulation drug.

I can't believe that yesterday was my last day of taking the birth control pills. Time goes by so quickly! It just seems like yesterday that I was just starting to take the pill. Jerry will give me my first injections this Saturday. Jerry will be giving me Menopur injections in the morning, at 7am to be precise. Then in the evening, he will give me the Follistim injections. The Menopur, I've heard, stings like the dickens. It's going to be long and drawn out because you have to go slowly while injecting the solution. I remember how the Repronex stung my belly two years ago. I'm not looking forward to that again. I didn't have much trouble with the Follistim. Short and quick.

On another note, we got the results from Shady Grove Genetics about Jerry's Robertsonian Translocation. You see, the new fertility doctor in Denver wants to make sure that Jerry does indeed have Robertsonian Translocation. It turns out that this local fertility doctor was correct in diagnosing it. Actually, he didn't diagnose it - he just sent out the blood to a lab and they diagnosed it. Anyway, 65% of Jerry's sperm has an unbalanced translocation. In other words, 65% of the sperm are duds. So at most we're working with 35% normals. Wow. That's depressing.

We are getting ready for our 3+ weeks trip to Denver. There are so many things I still have to do to get ready. We've never been away for so long, especially leaving our cats. Jerry's sister and her husband and their son have graciously offered to help us look after them while we're gone. Part of our hesitation in waiting this long to go to Denver is because of the animals. But I know they will be in good hands. I cannot thank them enough for doing us this huge favor.
God bless them!


The emotional rollercoaster has started

So I've been on birth control pills now for 8 days now. I don't know what it is but my body does not like being on birth control. It's just so unnatural (but then so is IVF). I've only taken birth control pills 4 times in my life - each time for trying to get pregnant! How ironic is that?

This morning, I called the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM) and made my ultrasound and lab appointments: 9:30am on July 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th. I have a physical July 3rd at 10am. My surgery to harvest the eggs is tentatively on July 9th. And on July 14th, the doctor will put in at least one embryo (he mentioned two or three depending on the quality). I will do the bed rest thing for 2 days, and then we start driving home on the 16th.

Before I started the birth control pills, things didn't seem real yet. But then after I took my first pill, I was like I can't believe I'm going to do IVF again. But then I was like I can still back out and not go through with this. And I've been wrestling with that thought for about a week now. But now after I made the appointments for the ultrasounds and labs, it just seems wow I'm going to do this again - I must want a baby really bad.

Part of the emotional rollercoaster is due to the fact that I do not want to hyperstim again. That was extremely painful, excruciating even. The ovaries are supposed to be the size of almonds. When I hyperstimmed (aka OHSS) back in July 2006 (under the care of a local fertility doctor here in Pensacola), my ovaries swelled to the size of grapefruits! I'm trying not to think about the pain that I went through, but I just can't help it sometimes. I'm really scared that it might happen again. I literally wanted to die or at least be put into a coma until it was all over. I made a deal with myself that I will never do this again - the IVF that is. But now look at me. I'm just asking for it!

My new fertility doctor in Denver said that he will do everything possible for me not to hyperstim again. By making me be on birth control pills more days (to suppress the ovaries), cutting the dosage of the stimulating meds (Repronex 75u, Follistim 75u), and triggering with Lupron instead of hCG, he's hoping to prevent hyperstim. I am counting on him and his staff to take care of me, so to speak.

Another part of my emotional turmoil is because I'm VERY Christian (Catholic Christian to be exact). Thou shall not kill is one of the commandents that comes to mind. With my first IVF, 9 out of 17 embryos were destroyed. How and why were they destroyed? They were destroyed by allowing them to stay in the petri dish and die. They were left to die because the genetic tests came back abnormal. We're not talking about babies having any issues such as Downs or something like that (those are survivable). We're talking about babies that will most likely not make it full term or if they do they will immediately die within a couple of hours after birth. And with the genetic testing, there is about a 10% error. So with those 9 embryos that were left to die, the tests could be wrong. That is what's eating me up inside... First of all, they were allowed to die. Secondly, that those babies that were killed could've been normal - we just didn't them a chance to live. I struggle with what I did every single day and I know that I will have to answer for it one day.

You're probably wondering what happened to the 8 "normal" embryos. They were frozen right away. I went back three times with this local fertility doctor doing what's called a Frozen Embryo Transfer (aka FET). The first time was canceled due to my body still wanting to ovulate even though I was on birth control pills; thus, it threw off the whole cycle. This local fertility doctor didn't have an in-house embryologist, so my cycle had to be timed to when he was going to be there. The second FET cycle, the doctor was cocky and put in only 1 embryo (a girl). BFN (big fat negative). The third FET cycle, the doctor put in 2 embryos (2 boys). Again, BFN. Each time right before he put the embryo(s) in my uterus, I asked him if the embryo(s) were normal and healthy. And each time, he assured me that they were 'very healthy.' LIAR!

We had a re-group appointment with this local fertility doctor. I showed him the pictures of the embryos that he put in my uterus. I asked him what the thought of them. He said that the pictures weren't clear and he couldn't tell anything. I was thinking to myself, if he couldn't tell anything from the pictures, how could he tell me that those embryos were "very healthy" before?? I also asked him if he's had ANY success with the frozen embryos (snow babies). In other words, I asked him if anyone has gotten pregnant and had a baby using their frozen embryos. He, of course, said yes. I had already looked up his statistics at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website. (All of the fertility clinics have to post their stats with the CDC.) This local fertility doctor's stats said 0% success with frozen embryos. So he lied to me again! I then informed him that his IVF nurse coordinator told me the day before (she put me on hold to look up the documentation) that he's had no success in the frozen cycles. But she also said that it varies from individual to individual, which is understandable. But you would think that he would have at least one success. Anyway, she no longer works there. Hmmm...interesting.

When I went to see a new fertility doctor (CCRM) back in April of this year, I showed him the pictures of the embryos. He said that the pictures weren't really clear, but he could sort of see that there were something not quite right with the embryos, possibly due to being damaged during the genetic testing or the freezing method. He also said that the embryos' genetic tests weren't thorough. This local fertility doctor tested for only ONE out of the TWO known genetic abnormalities. So these "normal" embryos may not be "normal" after all. I'll post later on what we're doing with the 5 embryos left. Thankfully, they are no longer at this local fertility clinic. They have been transferred to Denver. And I feel so much better for that.

I'm just so disgusted with this local fertility doctor...Disgusted isn't even a strong enough word for what I feel for him. He (1) took our money - IVF/ICSI/PGD plus 3 frozen embryo cycles plus the meds don't come cheap - and (2) lied to us by telling us that the embryos were 'very healthy' and about having success with the frozen embryo cycles and (3) put us through such an emotional rollercoaster ride after every cycle.

I am just so thankful that I found another fertility doctor that I could trust. How did I find the one in Denver? Well, I was looking at the CDC site and came across CCRM. CCRM is rated the #1 fertility clinic in the United States. CCRM's stats are awesome! For someone in my age group, the percentage is 70% success! (That's three times more than this local fertility doctor.) Plus when we went there, I just got the warm and fuzzy feeling. :-)

Whew, this is such a long story (and I didn't cover half of it!); and thank you for reading it if you're read this far.

If you're the praying type, please pray for us! If not, then please send us positive vibes!


Let's get this started

Ok. So I got my "schedule" for my 2nd and hopefully the last round of in vitro. I start the birth control pills tomorrow and continue taking them for 21 days. Then 5 days from the last last birth control pill, I start my stimulation shots. I will be on half the dosage of meds as my first IVF. So hopefully, I won't be a super egg producer like last time. I will have to start traveling to Denver on the 29th, so that I can be there by July 1st for my first ultrasound and blood work. Then I will have ultrasounds and blood work every day until the egg retrieval (egg harvesting surgery), which is tentatively scheduled for July 9th. Then the embryo transfer (putting the embryo in my uterus) will be on July 14th. We can start back home on the 16th. Then I wait 14 days to see if I'm pregnant.

So that's the logistics of it. Now come the emotions. I am TERRIFIED and EXCITED at the same time. I am terrified because of what happened to me the first time. I don't think I could survive another thing like that again. Seriously, that hurt so bad. Those that have given birth are probably thinking that I'm such a wuss. But let me tell you. The pain meds didn't even take the edge off. All it did was knock me out. And when I woke up, the pain was so excruciating that they had to knock me back out. After about 4 days of constant morphine drip in my IV (which they had to do a pic line because I was so dehydrated from throwing up due to the pain meds - see the vicious cycle?), they changed my med to dilauded. Even with the dilauded, I had to take anti-nausea meds (Zofran AND Reglan at the same time). The nurses at Baptist Hospital had never dealt with anyone who's hyperstimmed this bad before. My GYN was afraid that my ovaries would torse and she would have to do a hysterectomy. Thank God that didn't happen.

I'm excited because my new fertility doctor gave us a 65% chance of success. Just think. We could end up pregnant by the end of next month! Of course, I thought this same way when we did the first round of in vitro. So I'm trying not to get too overly excited. But sometimes I can't help myself. And because of the genetic testing, we will know the sex of the baby or babies right away... And I mean, RIGHT AWAY... on July 14th. How cool is that?

So stay tuned... :-)