Sunday, December 18, 2011

IVF #7 has begun

I have officially begun my protocol for IVF #7, which is my 2nd IVF post miracle baby Smiley.  It's so hard to believe that a year ago yesterday I had emergency surgery to remove my ruptured tube, thanks to an ectopic.  So much has happened this past year, it's hard to believe it all happened in just one.  My last cycle began in Feburary and was over and done with by March with a BFN.  We took a break with all intentions of putting our house on the market and moving over the summer, with the hopes of doing another cycle early fall.  Of course things didn't happened the way we'd planned (as they rarely do) and it took us much longer to sell and move, but I'm thinking that the extra long break was a good thing, given that R's new job brought new fertility coverage for us, including meds.  When I first began my TTC journey I was working for a large pharmaceutical company that provided amazing fertility coverage, I was able to get through 3 IVF cycles with 100% coverage, including meds.  With my last cycle, we had to pay out of pocket for meds, (and PGD) which left me reeling about how much these drugs and procedures cost, and how multiple cycles could easily send someone into bankruptcy.  Being back on the other end of the spectrum again, I was in tears when I leared our coverage was so robust, and I feel very grateful for this.

I did have to jump through some hoops and had some near misses with starting my cycle, when getting pre-authorized and ordering my meds from Aetna specialty pharmacy.  The timing was super sensitive, as my RE wanted me to start Cetrotide on day 22, prior to the start of my period.  Aetna was taking forever to confirm that my prescription was in my system, and my nurse had to called a few days in a row to get it all squared away. Thankfully, by the skin of my teeth, my meds arrived Friday morning (starting them yesterday, Saturday!) and wouldn't you know it, my period arrived first thing yesterday morning - on day 22.  Some cycles are 22 days, some are 30. Thankfully I was able to text my nurse and find out if I could still start my cycle, and it turns out we're just making a few tweaks to the protocol.  So last night, during Hankkah party and a house full of family - I went upstairs to mix my Cetrotide, and give myself my first injection since March. After 6 years of being on the TTC rollercoaster, it really is like riding a bike.

I am not sure how I feel about this cycle - my track record with IVF is not good, only one has been successful, and it ended in a miscarriage at week 9.  Smiley was conceived naturally.  My last IVF did not work.  We've decided to forego PGD, as we've done it twice and it has not helped us at all (we even did it the cycle that ended in miscarriage, a very rare occurrance).   For some reason I feel hopeful, I guess part of me believes that if we could have one baby, we should be able to have another - but my brain also recognizes that I am 3 years older than I was when Smiley was conceived.  It was not easy for us the 1st time, it's not going to be that easy this time.  

This could be our last cycle usin my eggs.  We have said that we are open to moving on to DE if this doesn't work, but I really want to take this cycle one day at a time, and see how I feel.

On a side note - I went to a friend's son's 5 year old birthday party today.  Every year I think about how I was pregant the same time this friend was, and lost my baby in a miscarriage at 7 weeks.  I should have a 5 year old.  If I want to get nit picky, I should have 6 kids with all of the pregnancies I've had, but I am luckier than so many women, and can say that I have one, amazing, perfect little girl.  If in the end, she is our only child, I will be so grateful for that. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Back to it

It has been way too long since I posted an update.  My last post was filled with frustration about the delay with our move, but everything ended up working out in the end.  We settled on both houses on 10/13, back to back settlements! Then we moved into our new home on 10/21.  We were feverishly packing between those two dates, and we moved some of our most fragile possessions to the new house ourselves.  The movers took our furniture and the majority of our things, but we rented our townhouse back until the 31st, so we were able to take our time in getting every last item out.  On 10/31 we handed the keys over to the buyers, and closed one chapter of our lives, while we fully opened another.

Our new house is a dream come true, we are in a lovely neighborhood, in a wonderful school district (back in my highschool district, so hard to believe!) we have huge bedrooms, Smiley's room is more than double the size of her tiny room in our townhouse.  Our bedroom is like a palace, with a gorgeous bathroom.  We have 2 more bedrooms upstairs, one will serve as a guestroom for now, the other, an office.  We have a wide open basement with a full bath and another room that could be used as a bedroom as well.  Our kitchen is to die for, all new appliances, granite countertops, lots of cabinet space.  We have a sunroom addition with skylights and beautiful tiled floors.  Our family room has a gas fire place and is warm and cozy.  We have new hardwoods in the kitchen, living room and dining room...the living room will remain a play room for now, we are going to hold off on formal living room furniture for awhile.   The icing on the cake is our spacious, fenced in back yard.  There is so much potential for that yard, we are going to wait until the spring to decide what to do with it, but I would love to put up a swing set for Smiley.

The bulk of the unpacking has been done, my MIL and R's aunt came into town the day after we moved and helped us get the kitchen unpacked, and much of our room.  It was a huge help (despite the stress that came along with their visit) and we are more than functional now.  Since our move in date, I had to put the finishing touches on Smiley's 2nd birthday party, that was thankfully planned outside of the house.  I had so much going on, I didn't have a lot of time to think about how I felt about my baby turning 2.  When it came time for her actual birthday, it hit me like a ton of bricks...she is really growing up, there is no freezing time, as much as I'd like to think.  It was wonderful to watch her enjoy the birthday festivities, opening of presents, eating of cake, the party, she understood that all of the hubub was for her, and that's all I cared about.  I want her to know how special she is, how every birthday is a gift that she has given to us.

We were in our new house for barely a week before I started nudging R about when we should begin our cycle, one that will likely be our last with my eggs.  He looked at me wearily, amongst boxes and trash bags, and asked if I was really up for this now.  O.k. maybe I wasn't ready that particular moment, but I need to have some sort of a plan....we discussed that it might be best to wait until January, to give ourselves time to get settled, and also get through the holidays. I have a big work event coming up mid-December, and I really don't want to have to worry about when an ER would fall.  I am going to make an appointment with my RE, and talk about starting in 2 cycles, which should put me starting meds at the end of December, beginning of January...just in time for my birthday.

I am ready to get this show on the road.  We've gotten over the big hurdle of selling our house and moving.  It's been almost a year since I had my ectopic, 8 months since our failed IVF. If it's not meant to be with my eggs, so be it, but I need to know.  I need to know if it's meant to be, period.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A heavy day

Just when I thought things were starting to really come together with our move, we had a set back today, that I fear will put an end to our plans for the second time since May.  We were supposed to go to settlement on our current home this Thursday.  Tonight we get a call from our realtor saying that there hsa been an issue with our buyers' financing, they are expecting a gift from family in Korea, and they were going to have it wired to them in time for settlement. Their bank is requiring that all of their funds be present in the form of a check, so the settlement could be delayed 2 weeks. We then had to go to the sellers of the house we are buying, and beg them for a 2 week delay in our settlement.  This is too much for me to handle, we have already lost 2 buyers and had to give up another house that we loved, I don't think I could go through this all over again.  I'm surprised no one called the police in my neighborhood, because I was screaming so loud at my realtor, I'm sure every neighbor heard.

On top of everything else, I got a call from my RE today, I had several rounds of bloodwork done recently, and she was calling to give me the results, now that the HSG was complete.  It turns out my FSH has gone up quite a bit in a year, so has my estradiol.  I also had an anti-mullerian hormone test, and the results were not favorable there.  All signs are pointing to a lowering of my egg reserve. 

Once we are settled either way with our home situation, we will have to sit down and weigh our options of doing one more cycle with my eggs, vs abandoning ship and going toward donor or adoption.  One silver lining has show itself this week, with R's new job comes new fertility coverage.  If we do decide to do another cycle, at least we will be covered, that certainly eases some anxiety.

I have so much noise swirling around my head right now, I feel like I need to open my front door and just take off running, if it wasn't dark already I would probably do it.  I hope tomorrow is a better day.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Free and Clear

I am so excited to be participating in my first ICLW.  I have not been able to comment as much as I've wanted, it seems like my week went into overdrive just as ICLW got started.  I'm so grateful for the supportive comments I've received, and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the stories that I've been able to go through, so far.  I am not sure if next month will be any less crazy, since I will be moving during ICLW, but I will be as active as I can, because there's nothing like this community.

My HSG was uneventful.  The most painful part of the whole experience was the drive to the remote radiology center in rush hour traffic, and then having to wait almost an hour for the Radiologist to do the test.  I took the obligatory 800mg of ibuprofen during my drive to the center, and did not feel much discomfort at all during the procedure.  It turns out that my lone tube is in fact open.  I guess this is a good thing, no one ever wants to be told that their tubes (or in my case, tube) are blocked, that closes many doors, and forces women into more invasive options.  The Radiologist proceeded to gush and say how great it is that my tube is open, and how so many women get pregnant after they have the somehow "clears" everything out.  She has no idea what my IF history is, and that even though I'm happy to know that my tube is open, I can't just expect to all of a sudden become pregnant.  It leaves the door open to IUI's, and I'm just not sure if I want to go down that road again, especially with only 1 tube.

I'm very happy to have the test done and over with, it was looming over my head for awhile.  Unfortunately we're going to have to put any decisions on hold until we move, there are only so many things we can handle.  R starts his new job tomorrow, I am very proud of him, he deserves this career advancement, but I know he's nervous.  Smiley has been running a low fever and had a croupy cough that has turned into a head cold...I have several big meetings this week, Settlement on our current house, and Rosh Hashana...this is a big week, I really hope that my little girl is on the upswing or I am going to be the one to have to take off while R gets settled in his new job.

I feel very fortunate to have so many wonderful things going on right now, I am really going to try and focus on moving and getting settled, and then we will figure out what our next step is.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Hello Old Friend

This Thursday I will undergo a test that is usually one of the first on the menu of assays someone will experience when having a fertility workup.  The dreaded Hysterosalpingogram, or HSG as we have come to know and (cough cough) love it.  Everyone always paints a grim picture of what to expect, a thin tube placed into the uterus, dye injected, lots of pain/cramping as the dye is pushed through your uterus into your fallopian tubes, which may or may not be blocked.  In 2006, when I first had this test, I remember thinking that it wasn't as bad as expected.  Just some mild cramping, the Advil I had taken before the procedure took care of any residual cramping...and the results were that my tubes were not blocked, no obstructions in my uterus.  I remember thinking how relieved I was, unblocked tubes are a good thing!  If my tubes weren't blocked, then the egg and sperm were sure to meet eventually, and therefore fertilize and eventually implant.  At that time I had no idea that fertility or IF was so much more complicated than just blocked or unblocked fallopian tubes.

Last December I was sitting in a meeting with the president of the Hospital where I work, and several other vice presidents from our administration.  In the middle of the meeting I began to experience an intense cramping that I had never felt before, along with abdominal pain and light headedness. I knew something wasn't right, but I didn't want to get up from the meeting.  When I went to the bathroom I saw that I was bleeding (sorry, tmi).  It was the middle of my cycle, I definitely should not have been bleeding.  I continued to ingnore the pain, and event went to a lunch meeting outside of the the snow. Thankfully, my colleague drove. The pain grew worse and I realized that I could not get comfortable at all, I tried not to let on that I was in pain, but it was difficult.  When I got back to my office I called R crying, I told him what was going on and somehow I managed to get myself into the car, to a drug store, and purchased a pregnancy test.  I had a feeling that I was having a miscarriage...I had been through similar situations before, I actually started bleeding in the middle of a cycle when I found out I was pregnant with Smiley...however I had never experienced such pain as I was in at that moment.

I did make it to the drug store, hunched over, picked up a test, and went home.  I took the test and it lit up like a Christmas tree.  I knew that something was very wrong, and called the nurse I had become close to at my RE's office.  I told her what was going on, and asked if she thought I should go to the emergency room, given the pain and bleeding I was experiencing.  She told me I could definitely do that, or, if I could wait until the morning, I could be seen with the monitoring patients.  That entailed driving from my house in the suburbs into DC...but I wanted my RE, not a random ER doc at our community hospital. 

All night I was in terrible pain, I couldn't get comfortable laying down, sitting up, walking...I kept questioning my decision to wait until morning to get to the doctor, but R said that I'd regret going to the ER and having to wait hours.  Stupidly, I drove myself to the RE at 6:15am to make it downtown by 7:00am.  As soon as my RE started the ultrasound she knew things were not pretty.  My abdomen was full of blood, and I had a ruptured cyst on my right ovary.  She told me that I needed to have surgery ASAP, I likely was having a ruptured ectopic, but she wouldn't know for sure until she went in.  R dropped Smiley at daycare and drove down to meet me, and within a couple of hours of getting me registered and over to the hospital, I was in surgery, and my left fallopian tube was removed.

I was very lucky that day.  I could have passed out on the road and had a car accident.  I could have needed blood transfusions.  I didn't even have to stay overnight in the hospital.  But all I could think of was - that was my 6th pregnancy, damn it. And that one took away my left tube...the one connected to the ovary that's more responsive. 

Since my ectopic I've done an IVF cycle that resulted in a BFN.  That was in March.  I have no clear answer to the question - what do we do next? IUI seems like an idiotic move at this point, they have never worked for us before, and now I only have one tube..but it's low tech and it's covered by our insurance, and it may be all I can handle right now, while we prepare to move to a new home, and R begins a new job next week.  I am looking forward to seeing what kind of IF coverage his new insurance may bring...but I am also not sure if I'd even want to do any more IVF cycles if we had coverage.  So many unanswered questions.

So Thursday I will have another HSG to see if my lone right tube is open or blocked...if it's open, we may decide to try a few IUI's, even though the chances of success aren't too high.  If it's blocked, we know IUI's are out of the question, and we'll have to decide if we want to do any more IVF's with my eggs.

I look at my Smiley girl every day and wonder how on earth she exists.  I sometimes even ask her where she came from, and she grins from ear to ear and laughs.  I will think of that beautiful smile and infectious laugh while I lie on the table Thursday, loaded up on Advil, and hoping for an open tube and another miracle.

Friday, September 9, 2011

When it rains it pours

I'm sure by now everyone is ready to say goodbye to this rain that has been pounding much of the east coast all week.  This wet, dreary weather has not made it easy for most of us to ease into a fall mindset after the Labor Day holiday - we've been thrown into it, like it or not. 

Despite the miserable weather, I have had several big things come about that have been wonderful developments, after a summer of ups and downs.  It really is true that sometimes things happen all at one time.  R had been offered a wonderful new job with a government contractor back in July, one that would take him to a new level in his career.  In order to move forward with a start date, the company had to attain final approval from the government; they asked R to hold off giving notice at his current job, as they didn't know how long the approval would take.  It took 2 months, but R was finally cleared right before Labor Day, and will be starting his job in 2 weeks.  I am so proud of him; he has earned this new opportunity that will bring more responsibility, a nice bump in salary, and virtually no commute, vs his current hour commute into DC. 

A week before that, we accepted an offer on our townhouse.  We accepted much less than we had initially hoped to get, but we are still coming out ahead, and it's not like the offers were rolling in, so we felt that we weren't going to get anything much better, if at all.  We are cautiously optimistic that this contract (the 3rd!) will go through, we've passed through the big hurdles that typically can make or break a contract, so we hope to see a 9/29 settlement.  We will be renting back from the buyers for a month, which gave us a nice amount of time to find a house to move to.  We've been actively engaged in the house hunting process since May, so we have been very familiar with what's available in the neighborhoods we like.  There was a house that I loved from day 1, that went under contract before we sold our house the first was a house that had foreclosed a while back, and was bought by an investor that renovated it from top to bottom.  The neighborhood is ideal - Smiley's dacare is attached to the elementary school in that neighborhood, and I loved the idea of her being able to go there, and eventually to the high school that I went to.  I felt very connected to the house, and was really sad that we weren't going to have a crack at it.

We found out that this house's contract fell through a few weeks ago, right before we had a contract on our house. I held out hope that we'd get another shot at it, and low and behold we did.  As of Wednesday, we have a contract on this wonderful home, in the neighborhood that we love, which happens to be right across from where I grew up.  We are crossing our fingers that things work out, home inspection is Monday...if everything goes as planned, we close on 10/4. 

Yesterday, the icing on the cake was getting to see my younger brother for the 1st time in 7 months.  I mentioned in my first post that I've had a lot of issues with my family since my mother passed away (and even before).  My brother and I are 11 years apart, he was adopted from birth, and was the happiest, sweetest baby we could have hoped for.  He was very young when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, and his behavior took a turn as my mother's health began to deteriorate.  I plan to dedicate a future post to my brother, as his story is very relavant to my wavering feelings on adoption.  Long story short, my brother had gotten into some trouble with the law, and was sentenced to a year in jail.  He was fortunate to make parole in July, and after a bit of a paperwork delay, was released yesterday.  We talked very often while he was in jail, and I knew that he regretted missing a big chunk of Smiley's life...but we can only hope that his experience has changed him for the better, and that he has learned from his mistakes.  It was a very emotional day for all of us, and my heart just burst when my Smiley girl went to him at the end of the night, and gave him a hug...someone she didn't remember, but will get to know and love again.

It's hard to believe that just a couple of short weeks ago, we had no buyer for our house, no house to move to, no set release date for my brother, no confirmation on R's job, and now all of those things have seemed to work themselves out all at once.  It brings me hope that somehow, some way, we will be able to work out a plan for bringing another baby into our home.  For right now, I will appreciate this current storm of blessings on my family, and will let them sink in.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Too much Limbo in my Life

Today R and I met with my RE for the first time since our most recent IVF (#6), which we did in February.  This was our first IVF since our daughter was born; a couple of months prior, I was rushed into emergency surgery with a ruptured ectopic.  That was one of the scariest experiences of my life, probably even scarier than when I had acute RE made it seem like every moment I spent outside of the operating room was one more moment that gallons of blood were filling my abdomen. Although I was terribly saddened to lose a fallopian tube, I certainly was happy that I didn't lose my life.

When our IVF was not successful R and I decided that we were going to take some time off and focus on some other goals that we wanted to acheive this year.  We had been wanting to put our townhouse on the market for some time, and move to a single family home. We felt that this was something that would give us a distraction that we needed, and we would visit my RE to develop a plan once we were settled into a new home.  We had left our failed IVF with no follow up plan, which was somewhat tough for me to swallow.  We had exhausted the fertility coverage that our insurance plan offered, and knowing that we wanted to move, we felt it was more important to put any available cash toward a new home, as opposed to another IVF that may or may not work.  I found myself in a totally different situation than we were in before we had Smiley: something else took precedence over our fertility issues.  Before Smiley was born there was nothing that was going to get in the way of fertility treatments. I couldn't think about moving into a bigger house - I didn't want to have to look at the empty rooms, longing for a way to fill them.  But now, I realized that we have to think of Smiley and what's best for her, as we navigate through our journey to bringing her a sibling.  So May 19th, our house went on the market.

Our housing situation has kept us on a roller coaster with as many twists and turns as the IF ride.  We had two contracts that have fallen through since May, the first one had stuck long enough for us to put a contract on my dream home, which we had to give up once the jerk backed out of our contract.  That house sold 5 days after we withdrew.  I decided that I needed to see my RE and at least start mapping out a plan, so that once we're ready, we can execute.

There are so many unknowns with us, that there is no way to know what the best course of action will be.  I only have one tube, but we're not sure if it's even functioning properly, so next cycle I will have an HSG done. It's been 5 years since I had my first one, so why the heck not? I had several vials of blood drawn today, to take a look at some levels, but will need to go in on day 3 for an FSH estrodial reading.  My FSH levels have never been high, yet my poor quality embryos and early miscarriages could lead one to believe that my eggs are not so great.  We've thought about doing a few IUI's, as they would be covered by my insurance, but with only one tube, every IUI would be a crap shoot as to which ovary would ovulate.  Basically, we left our appointment with no more plan of action than we walked in with; we'll find out the results of my tests and re-assess.   Hopefully we'll be able to come up with a plan that I can feel comfortable with, and will no longer feel like a leaf blowing in the wind.

In the mean time, here's to hoping our housing roller coaster comes to a halt very soon.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I'm really doing it

I'm so thrilled to finally be a part of this amazing community.  I have thought about blogging for a long time, and have even been lurking for awhile, silently cheering many of you on, as you've shared your stories.  I am not sure what kept me from actually sharing my own story, but I am thrilled to be officially "out" in the IF community, and to able to rally around all of you.  I know that I will definitely benefit from the love and support that I've seen flowing from comments and posts.

I invite you to visit my TTC Timeline and My Journey pages, to learn about my story.  I am not quite sure where I fit in, in this community.  You will learn that I am one of the truly lucky individuals who has "crossed over" and successfully carried and given birth to a baby after years of struggling with IF, failed ART procedures and repeat pregnancy losses.  I used to pray to whatever higher power is out there, that if I could have just one baby, I would never ask for anything else.  Here we are, almost 2 years after my daughter Smiley (because you never see her without a smile) was born, and the desire to have another baby is just as strong as my desire was, for a first. The only difference, is that I'm fortunate enough to be able to wake up every single morning and swoop up my beautiful, special, miracle baby.  That fact, in itself, separates me from so many of you strong, incredible women, who continue to struggle every day in pursuit of a baby, and I can't help but have some guilt for wishing for more than one. 

You will learn a lot about my family through my posts. My husband, R, daughter, Smiley (of course I've already introduced her), and our miniature schnauzer, Rocky (his real name :) are everything to me.  You will learn about how losing my mother 9 years ago unraveled the lives of my father and brother, and how R and I almost cancelled our wedding, which was 4 months after her death.  There were many things that R and I were dealing with way before we knew we would spend years fighting so hard for a baby, and some of those issues have not gone away.  I am so happy that I now have an outlet where I can share and get feedback, support, and empathy.

Please feel free to share my blog with anyone and everyone you are connected with, I can't wait to "meet" you all!