Thursday, August 23, 2012

First Trimester Screening

Yesterday was an emotionally draining day, it's amazing how sometimes highs and lows can coincide and occur simultaneously, it's hard to process everything at one time.  First and foremost, we had our first trimester screening yesterday.  We were referred to a popular MFM practice that many ob/gyn's refer to in the DC metro area.  I had the bloodwork portion of the test done last week, so that the results would be in yesterday, and we could discuss them with a genetic counselor.  We arrived for our 10:15am appointment at 10:00am, and weren't taken back until 10:45.  I had been drinking water all morning to make sure my bladder would be full for the ultrasound, so by the time we were taken back I thought my bladder was going to burst.  I asked if we could do the ultrasound first, because otherwise the genetic counselor was going to have a puddle all over her floor before long.  Luckily they were able to accommodate us and make that happen.  I was taken to a room and we got started pretty quickly.  I was holding my breath while the sonographer found the baby, and said a little prayer that that heart was still beating...and sure enough, the heart was beating beautifully, and the baby was moving around like a champ.  She started taking measurements quickly, knowing that my bladder was super full, and showed us how well the baby is developing.  The nuchal fold was measured, and it was a great measurement for the size of the baby, which enabled R and I to breathe a sigh of relief.  We got to see the blood flow in the spinal chord, which was so amazing, and we learned that the baby is measuring 5 days ahead of schedule.  We were feeling great.

We sat down with the genetic counselor and she told us that the screening was very positive.  Just the fact that the age of the egg was 28 vs my age of 36, brought the risk for major chromosomal abnormalities down drastically.  The results of the bloodwork and ultrasound were consistent with the statistics, everything is looking great.  We left the office feeling so hopeful and lucky, we decided that were going to begin sharing the news with our extended families and friends.  Of course, we had to tell our beautiful Smiley that she's going to be a big sister :)

The rest of the day was a bit of a blur, both of us went our separate ways back to work, I started sharing the news with some of my co-workers, everyone was so excited and supportive.  My boss most of all, she has exceeded all of my expectations in so many ways.  Sharing the news with friends has been amazing, we decided we would tell our close friends about using a donor egg, but limit it to that, and ask that they keep that detail to themselves.  The people that are closest to us know our history, have shared our journey with us, and are our biggest cheerleaders, even if they don't understand everything there is to know about using a donor egg, they know that it's a wonderful option in building a family.  One thing we do want to avoid, is someone in our lives who may not completely understand, opening their mouth later on and making a comment around our child about him/her being a donor egg for now, the closest of the close will know, and others, don't need to know.

So the wonderful news about the first trimester screening should have been enough for the day, but unfortunately, as things have tended to go for us, there has to bee some bad with the good.  My dad has been unhappy in his job for quite awhile, I knew that his boss was having some financial issues and couldn't afford to have my dad work a full week, but I learned yesterday that things for my dad are worse than I thought.  He himself, is having financial troubles (which is not a new thing for him) and he is asking for us to give him some money that we were holding for him (very long story that involves him avoiding debt collectors from his previous business failings).  He e mailed R asking for the money yesterday morning, and R sent him an e mail back letting him know how much he'd have remaining, and that we would not be able to lend him any money beyond that amount, given the expenses we are going to have ahead of us.  My dad was hurt, and sent me an e mail saying he was glad that R "warned him" - this all took place before the screening! Did I need that??  I completely understood where R was coming from.  When my dad's business was failing several years ago, my dad borrowed a lot of money from us, and we did not see any of it back.  We were lucky that we were able to help him a the time, but we swore that we would never do that again, especially since now we have our own family to support.  My dad understands that, and he holds onto a lot of guilt for having put us through that...but it doesn't change the fact that it did happen.

My dad has been sinking into a depression the last couple of months, he revealed to me tonight that things have been going on in his office that he hasn't shared with us, and he's spent many days unable to get out of bed.  It's so painful knowing that my dad is suffering, he's had such a terrible time since my mother died.  He's not in great physical health to begin with, but to be so depressed is not going to help matters at all.  He needs to find another job...but he's paralyzed.  He's convinced he's too old, and has no real skills that an upstanding organization would find useful.  My dad used to be a successful, confident business man, and to see him deteriorate these last 10 years has been heartbreaking.  He said that he made an appointment with a therapist, that is a HUGE step for him, given that he's shared in the past that he didn't believe in therapy.  I guess he realizes that he has to do something, or he's going to be in real trouble. 

I am trying to not allow my dad's issues to spill over into my life like they used to, but it's easier said than done.  I guess his issues and our issues need to coexist right now, but I know that I need to focus on my own health, and making sure the baby is getting what he/she needs.

The best part of our day, yesterday, was telling Smiley that she's going to be a big sister.  We picked her up from school, and as we were driving in the car, we told her.  She started laughing and clapping, and repeating, "I'm going to be a big sister!"  She has a couple of friends with baby siblings in the infant class at her school, so she has some concept of "baby sister and baby brother" but we don't think she really gets it...yet :) 

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Things have been pretty status quo since my Ob appointment last week, I continue to navigate through the nausea by eating constantly, it usually does the trick, but sometimes it backfires and I end up feeling worse than I did before I ate.  I'm just trying to go with the flow and do what I need to do to get through it all.  I find that the toughest times for me are when I am with people for a lengthy amount of time and I have to figure out my meal and snack situation.  Last night I attended a focus group hosted by my health system's marketing team, we sat through 2 focus groups from 6 - 10pm, observing people answer questions about where they'd go for cardiac care, and their reactions to our advertising campaigns.  The market research company that held the focus groups fed us pretty well, and if anyone from my team was watching, they would have noticed me eating throughout most of the evening.

Monday I received a call from one of the nurses from my Ob practice, she said the results from my urine culture came back, and I have a UTI.  She said it's nothing to worry about, it's very common, and they were going to put me on amoxycillin for a week.  I was not surprised to learn of the infection, I had been having minor symptoms for awhile, but I just chalked it up to pregnancy and all of the things going on in that vicinity.  I'm a bit nervous, however, because in the past, regular amoxycillin has not gotten rid of my uti's, I've needed to move to macrobid to knock them out.  I am hoping things go differently this time, I will be back there in a couple of weeks for an appointment, and they will be able to re-check me.

I have my 1st trimester screening next Wednesday, I was able to go to the MFM's office (where I will have the screening done) to do the blood work portion of the test.  The results will be in by our appointment, so we'll meet with the genetic counselor first, then have the ultrasound.  I vacillate between being really anxious about the test, and thinking everything will be fine.  I guess I will just have to cross my fingers just take it as it comes.  Not as easy as it sounds, but I will just have to do it.  Luckily, we have a nice distraction coming up, we are headed out this afternoon to Long Beach Island, NJ.  R's best friend and his wife and daughter rented a house for 2 weeks, and invited us to join them for part of their trip.  We made these plans months ago, before we had even undergone the IVF.  It turns out they are pregnant with their second child, so when R's friend told him the news, R told him about our news too.  I was fine with it, I knew that it would be too stressful trying to hide it for 4 days, this way if I have issues with nausea, it won't be a big deal.  I'm a bit nervous about the car ride, it's going to be a good 4-5 hours, depending on traffic, and I told R that given my UTI, I will definitely need to stop to pee multiple times during the ride.  Hopefully Smiley will cooperate and nap/watch DVD's the whole trip, and will not get too antsy.

I am looking forward to getting away and being distracted from my nerves of the upcoming screening.  It will be nice to spend some time on the beach, and to visit with our friends whom we haven't seen in awhile, they live in New York and we're lucky if we see them once or twice a year.  Their daughter is about a year younger than Smiley, I'm sure they will have a lot of fun together.  My bathing suit situation is pretty ugly, I barely fit into 2 of my suits, I refuse to put on my maternity bathing suits, it's too soon, and they would be too big anyway. When I wore them during my pregnancy with Smiley, I was much farther along than I am now.  I will just make them work, and when all else fails, keep the cover up on :)

So I am really in the home stretch of my 1st trimester, it's hard to believe.  On July 2nd when I received my beta results, I could not imagine that I would make it this far.  I sometimes beat myself up for looking farther ahead, thinking about baby furniture and accessories...bringing out the high chair again and activity mat, do I buy a breast pump or rent one again? I think that I am jinxing myself and need to keep those thoughts at bay.  I realize that sometimes it's o.k. to let those thoughts in, it would be unnatural if I didn't, and in reality, thoughts don't "jinx" people.  This is all out of our control, whatever will be will be.  I can only continue to be cautiously optimistic, and before long, we will have a clearer picture (literally!) of what will likely be. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Moving Right Along

The last couple of weeks went by faster than I expected they would.  I really believe that the energy healing work that I've been doing has helped keep me more balanced and calm.  I still have had some freak out moments, but for the most part, I'm just taking things one day at a time.  The nausea is still there in full force, but I'm managing it as best as I can, mainly by eating. Constantly.  And by eating I don't mean having a few crackers, I mean meals. I am someone who is normally very health conscious.  I typically watch my calories and exercise regularly.  I learned when I was pregnant with Smiley that I am very different as a pregnant woman, the nausea creates a whole different person.  I find myself pulling into McDonald's for an Egg McMuffin, because I must have it.  And oddly enough, it calms the nausea...for about an hour and a half.  Then I'm trying to figure out what I can eat next that won't make me ill and will calm the nausea simultaneously.  It's a balancing act, when I'm meeting with physicians and co-workers every day.  Thursday I have a dinner meeting with a Neurosurgeon we are trying to recruit, I am hoping and praying I can keep myself together for the evening.

Today we had our first appointment with our new OB practice.  I went in early yesterday morning for an ultrasound, as they didn't have two appointments together in one day.  I actually enjoyed going in early, I had time with the sonographer to ask some questions about the practice, and learn a bit about how they work.  She was so sweet, I got great vibes right off the bat.  And of course, it was wonderful to be able to see that little heart beat, and see him/her moving around! Today we met with one of the OB's, we really liked him a lot.  We went through our crazy history with him, discussed his opinion on a VBAC vs. scheduled C-section - he looked at me and said, "you've been through a lot.  Let's not risk anything, I recommend a planned C-section"  O.k. that's set then!  We discussed the first trimester screening, I was able to get an appointment in 2 weeks, so I'm glad to have that on the calendar.  We also talked about having BRCA gene testing, given my mother's passing from breast cancer.  It's something I've thought a lot about, and I do plan on having that done, but I feel like I can only handle one thing at a time right now.  I am nowhere prepared to make decisions about radical mastectomies or hysterectomies while I'm trying to nurture a life.  I have pretty much come to terms with the fact that I likely carry the gene, given that my mother was of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, and was diagnosed so young (two big risk factors for me), but I have been told by a breast surgeon that I still have time, and I've been very proactive in my screenings so far, so let's just get through this pregnancy, G_d willing.

R and I came away from the appointment feeling like we made the right decision about switching practices.  Forget the fact that they have an office right around the corner from our home (although our appointment was at the other office about 15 minutes away, but still much better than 45 minutes away, which is what we were doing before!) but we got the sense that they are going to take good care of us.  The nurse that worked with us today, treated me like I was her only patient of the day.  She's young and sweet, she told me that if I ever feel anxiety between appointments, I can call her any time and come in to hear the heart beat.  I wanted to hug her.  She also mentioned that her brother is a coach with the new Penn State coaching staff.  Again, wanted to hug her...told her I am a PSU alum, it warmed my heart to hear that her brother loves the coaching staff and that the team is so happy with the support they have.  The icing on the cake was my doctor telling me that I get to come back a week after my first trimester screening, so really I have to just get through the next 2 weeks until that, and then I get to be seen again, a week later.  That will get me into (knock on wood) my 13th week.  But like I find myself saying 50 times a day, I must take things one step at a time.

Time to go have my evening snack and crawl into bed, if I'm lucky I'll make it part way through a DVR'd show!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Fast Forward to U/S #2

I started a post a few days ago that I thought I saved, but sadly it's lost in the blogosphere somewhere.  We had our first ultrasound on 7/17 and we were thrilled to see a little tiny heart beat.  We were in awe, even though I had started feeling the nausea set in, until you see that beating heart, it's anyone's guess how the 1st ultrasound will go.  We were asked to come back a week later - which was today, where if everything went well, we would "graduate" to our OB.  One week later, here we are, graduated and onto our OB.  R and I made a very decision over the last couple of weeks, we decided to change OB practices so that we could deliver in the community hospital that is a mile and a half from our home, vs. staying with the OB whom we love at GW.  As much as we wanted to stay with her, and that practice, the practicality of delivering a few minutes from home vs. an hour away just won out.  I want things to be easy for R, who will be juggling Smiley, our dog, our families, if G_d willing we make it to our March due date.  So I did some research and asked my RE about the practices who refer to them, and picked a group that has a great reputation.  I go in on Monday 8/6 for an ultrasound, and the next day we go in for our initial appointment.  Another beloved 2ww :)

The nausea has really set in at this point, I struggle with talking too much about how difficult it is, because I don't want to complain about something that so many people would give their left arm to have - and I know that feeling of want!  I just want to be able to function without always feeling so sick.  I was able to get some Zofran today from my RE's office, and I'm hoping that that will do the trick, I took it when I was pregnant with Smiley, I had horrible nausea for 16 weeks with her, I imagine I may be in for a similar ride. 

So we're still in the game, I'm so grateful for having made it this far.  Keeping hope alive that this little bundle will stick around for the long haul :)

Monday, July 9, 2012


I have made it through 3 betas relatively unscathed.  It's hard to believe that it's been a week since my first beta, I never thought I would make it to that date, and now I have survived a 5 day vacation with R's mom, aunt and uncle, and a sneaky trip to Labcorp to have my second beta drawn in the middle of it all.  R's mom knows what's going on, but his aunt and uncle do not, and we were at their beach house.  I fabricated a story that I needed to have some routine bloodwork drawn for a physical that I have this week, so I scheduled a 7:30am appointment at the labcorp 3 miles from their house, near Atlantic City.  Aside from needing to wait 24 hours for the results (even though they were written as "stat"), when I learned the result of 1669, I was able to take a breath and enjoy the rest of our trip.  We had some great time on the beach, saw friends, had some wonderful meals, and were able to get some relaxation in there, despite the oppressive heat that everyone was dealing with along the east coast. I have to admit that I was looking forward to getting home and back to my routine, and to my 3rd beta which was drawn today.  The result was good, it was around 4600, which the nurse said was right where it needed to be.  For some reason I was thinking it would be higher, but she said that it's rising appropriately, and they want me to come in for an ultrasound next Tuesday, 7/17.

I am doing my best to not let my anxiety take over my being.  I am extremely grateful to have made it this far, and the fact that I am even pregnant at this moment in time, gives me hope that if it doesn't work this time around, it CAN work.  But of course, the fear creeps in from time to time, as different twinges and twitches come up.  I know we have a very long way to go, and we have had way too many losses to start celebrating this early in the game.  I keep repeating "one day at a time" when I start to feel the panic set in, but I often feel that I need to be prepared for the worst. 

In the mean time, I have a busy week of work, and coming up at the end of the week, is a very big anniversary. July 13th would have been my mom's 65th birthday, the 14th will be the 10 year anniversary of her passing.  I just can't believe that so much time has gone by, so much has happened these last 10 years.  I still wish I could pick up the phone and tell my mom about my day, gush about her beautiful grand daughter, cry over the losses I've experienced before and after Smiley.  I just miss her.  Plain and simple. We have some things planned for the weekend to honor my mother's memory; for the first time in years, I am not dreading these 2 days that are normally looming over me like an annual gray cloud.  I am actually looking forward to celebrating my mom, rather than mourning her.  I'm going to take Smiley to the cemetary on Friday, I'll have her draw a couple of pictures and we'll slip them under her stone.  We'll talk to her, sing some songs, and leave some rocks, in the traditional Jewish fashion. Friday night I plan to make my mom's lasagna recipe in her honor, and on Sunday, we'll go back to the cemetary, along with R, my dad and brother, and then we'll go out for brunch and celebrate her some more.  I know she'll be happy with our plans for remembering her on such an important anniversary. After all, she's always on our minds, 365 days a year, but this weekend, I know her presence will truly be felt.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Beta #1

I am in the midst of packing for a 6 day vacation to Margate, NJ with my husband's family - it was always dicey in my mind thinking of what this vacation could look like given how my beta was to turn out today.  I kept thinking about how miserable I would be on the trip if my beta was negative, and how anxious I would be if my beta was positive, and having to sneak away for a blood draw at a Labcorp on Thursday, and all around just keeping the news to ourselves.   Well, it turns out that I get to enjoy an anxious week at the beach with additional del estrogen and progesterone shots, and a 7:30 blood draw on beta came back positive today, I still can't believe it.  The number was 488, and I am 13dp5dt.  We are very excited, but after enduring many many miscarriages, I need to keep a level head and take this one step at a time.  If I can get through this vacation in one piece, that will bea step in the right direction :)

Hoping to have a good result from Thursday's beta, and then I'll go back to my RE's office on Monday for a 3rd.  Continuing to cross all fingers, toes, and anything else crossable :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

DE: Not Always the Magic Bullet

How in the world did it go from the middle of April to the 3rd week in June? I swore that I would be blogging more frequently, sharing the details of our DE journey, and tracking our progress.  Somehow, the time got away from me, and here it is, June 21, and I am 2dp5dt. 

Things did move pretty quickly once we selected a donor.  We originally thought we were going to end up waiting for more donors who were eligible for a 1:3 transfer to show up in the database before we made a decision, for some reason I wasn't falling head over heels for any of the ones that were listed.  I had this vision that I would find someone who resembled me to a tee - dark complexion, dark eyes and hair, 5'7 or taller.  R and I talked about what traits were truly important to us, and it turned out that it became less important that a donor be my long lost twin..because if we waited for her to show up in the database, we risked a very long wait. I also thought about how Smiley does not resemble me completely, she doesn't have my coloring, so why did it matter if the donor had my coloring? We ended up really liking one of the women who had some of the physical features we were looking for, but not all, and a very strong profile otherwise.  We had found our donor.

Fast forward through cycle synchronization with the donor and the 2 other recipients - that entailed a month and a half of the BCP, which turned me into a raging bitch who gained weight and began suffering from migraines...reminded me of why I never did well on the pill when I was trying to PREVENT pregnancy, all of those years ago.  Then the lupron began, another fun portion of the synchronization process, and then I began the Del Estrogen shots every 3 days, to start preparing my lining. Before I knew it, I was getting updates from my nurse about the donor's response to her ovarian stimulation, she seemed to be producing the numbers that would support 3 donors, which really was exciting.  I knew there was always a possibility that upon retrieval, there wouldn't be enough eggs for all 3 of us.  We were slotted for the 3rd position, so we had to prepare ourselves for the possibility of a cancelled cycle, but everything was always looking good for us, even upon retrieval.  On 6/13, our donor went in for her retrieval. 18 eggs were retrieved, and we received 6.  It turned out of those 6 eggs, 4 were mature, and all 4 of those fertilized.  The next day, my nurse called to share that all 4 were fertilizing properly, so we were encouraged by the news.  In the back of my mind, I still assumed we would have a day 3 transfer, because in our past IVF's with my eggs, we were lucky to even make it to day 3 before the embryos died out.  On the 2nd day, my RE called and said the embryos were really doing well, and we would schedule a day 5 transfer.  I was speechless.

I ended up having a 9:15am transfer on Tuesday.  We had one blast that was doing well, and 3 other embryos who were compacting, but hadn't yet reached the blast stage.  Our RE encouraged us to transfer the blast, and only the blast, in order to avoid having multiples.  R and I discussed this before; my heart was really leaning toward transferring 2, because, really, what were the chances that we would conceive multiples??  After really thinking it through during the cycle, we felt that our course of action would have been different if Smiley wasn't in the picture, if we weren't already blessed with one child.  We would have absolutely gone with transferring two - but with already having a very active and precocious 2 and a half year old, we didn't want to risk having multiples...a higher risk to an already high risk pregnancy.  So we transferred the beautiful blast that we had, and hoped we'd have at least one to freeze.

For the first time since my first IVF cycle, (when I was naive to how poor our embryos really were), I truly embraced my 24 hour "bed rest." I watched bad TV, read my Kindle, napped, let R wait on me, and snuggled with Smiley in bed.  I even took more rest time than needed, my transfer was at 9:15 am so technically, I could have resumed normal activity yesterday morning; I could have gone to work.  I decided to F that and stay home another day; I took a long warm shower and moved from the bed to the sofa. 

I went back to work today and tried to keep my mind busy.  I knew that today I would find out if the 3 remaining embryos were still viable and ready to freeze.  By 3:30 I was getting antsy, and even R was surprised we hadn't heard anything.  I called my nurse and got her vm immediately, not even a ring.  I called the main number and asked to speak with another nurse in the donor program, was transferred to someone and of course, got vm.  She called me back on my way home from work, she said that my nurse was out of the office today but I was on her list for calling tomorrow.  Unfortunately, this nurse didn't have good news for me....none of the 3 remaining embryos made it to freeze.  I had to have her repeat what she said, because I didn't understand what she was saying.  I thought with DE, embryos thrived, and bloomed like flowers.  Everyone I know that has done DE has had embryos left over, why the hell don't we? What is it with us and embryos? I just don't get it.  The nurse assured me that just because those embryos didn't make it, it doesn't mean the embryo we transferred isn't going to make had made it to blast and it's now where it needs to be.  But now, I feel like a dark cloud of doubt has shifted over the cycle a bit, where as this morning, I was so very positive that this was going to be our magic bullet.  R reminded me that we made it farther than we ever had, we used to dream of day 5 transfers (I think in our very last cycle we actually did a day 2, our embryos were so bad) and we just had one.  I had to keep remembering that, and also remember that we have 6 attempts at this if we need it.

Yes, I understand that by being in the Shared Risk program we have the opportunity to have 6 fresh cycles.  That means selecting a donor 6 times, synchronizing cycles 6 times - getting on the roller coaster 6 times.  I know that we'll never reach 6, I don't have it in me.  I haven't decided how far I'm willing to take it, and hopefully it will be a moot point, because this cycle will have worked and our clinic would have made money off of us, with a first time success.  I guess I have a hard time believing we are that lucky.  Then I think about all we went through in TTC the first time, and how hopeless I felt, so much so that we had given up on my eggs and were moving toward DE...and then Smiley was conceived, and despite many losses before her, I carried her to term. I guess we are that lucky after all.

Beta day is Monday July 2.  We are supposed to go to the beach with R's family the next day.  I have to say I am nervous about the trip, no matter what news we get - we get a negative I will be a mess (although I'll be able to drink my sorrows away).  We get a positive, and then I will worry about not spilling the beans, and also, somehow sneaking away to get a second beta done at a labcorp in Margate, NJ.  With R's family, it's very difficult keeping things private.  I have to keep telling myself that these are premature worries, and we need to take things as they come.  Not so easy for me but thankfully work is busy next week, and the weekends always fly by. 

I do want to talk to my RE about why he thinks we had no embryos to freeze. I am also curious to see if I can learn if the other recipients had any left to freeze. In the mean time, I can only take care of the one and only embryo that truly matters, the one who is hopefully making him/herself comfortable, and finding a nice home inside my uterus. Fingers and toes crossed.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A New Frontier in a Familiar Setting

It's amazing how far I've come since my last IVF cycle, and subsequent loss mid-January. I continue to meet with my Chakra Balancer/Energy Healer/Life Coach (and he is all of that and more) every other week, and have been consistently feeling not only more grounded and balanced, but also more bouyant, light, and cheerful than I have in years.  Things that would normally keep me stewing for days or weeks suddenly roll off my shoulders in a matter of hours, or worst case, a day.  I know this sounds corny, but find myself appreciating things like the beautiful blooms on the trees in a way that I haven't in years.  I've been getting outside to exercise much more, taking long walks in my neighborhood in the evenings; inhaling the crisp air and letting it wash through me - being present.  I certainly don't want to give the impression that I have turned into a Pollyannaesque robot, I still feel every emotion, the negative as well as the positive, but the negative doesn't seem to linger as long, and the positive lingers much longer than it had been.  The joy that I have been able to harness these last couple of months has allowed me to appreciate what I have so much more than I had been, and it feels wonderful to be able to do that.

About a month or so into my energy healing work, I began to feel that I was ready to begin working with R to take the next step forward in adding to our family.  We met with my RE in February, and the conversation went just as we expected - this cycle was not pretty, and it was less pretty than the one we did the prior year - it's pretty aparent that doing another IVF cycle with my eggs is very unlikely to produce a different outcome.  The early miscarriage indicates an egg quality issue, and the poor embryo quality really predicted that.  She recommended moving to donor egg or adoption as our next step.  R and I had been talking about our options if we decided to move to DE, we felt that it would be wise for us to leave GW and move back to Shady Grove Fertilty Center, the place where we first began our journey. We knew that they had a pretty big donor progam and had some shared risk and financing options.  Although our outcome with IVF was not positive there, we really did love our RE, and agreed that we would be comfortable returning if need be.  We talked about this with our RE at GW; she agreed that their donor program is much smaller and does not offer the same shared risk or shared donor options that we could find at SGFC.  She was very supportive of a potential move for us, and that made us feel good. 

I soon learned one of the reasons why my RE was so supportive of a potential move for us.  I am not sure if I mentioned that she and I shared a connection - I worked very closely with her husband, who was the Chief Medical Officer of the health care system that I work for.  I knew my RE before I knew him - as I was seeing her before I started my current job.  But this connection made the bond I had with her even stronger, and I had a relationship with her that gave me much greater access to her than her other patients had.  I found out two days after our WTF appointment that my RE's husband took an incredible job in St. Louis - which means my RE is moving too.  This information made our decision much easier, we soon made an appointment with our old RE (Dr. C) back at SGFC.

I won't go into too much detail about our appointment, I thought it was going to be difficult to walk back into that office, but it really felt like a new beginning.  Dr. C remembered us and was thrilled to learn that we had a beautiful, healthy 2 year old - conceived miraculously on our own, after so many failures.  He looked at our records and agreed that we were perfect candidates for their donor program (really, what was he going to say? After 7 IVF's, I think you should go for another?), and gave us an overview of their program.  Of course their stats and beautiful charts impressed us, just as their IVF stats did back in 2006 - so I had to check my emotions and remember that not every DE recipient is created equal, just like not every IVF patient is created equal.  But we did come away from our appointment with a sense of hope that we hadn't felt in awhile.  We even learned about the great shared risk and shared donor options that would help make the process more economical, although we did agree that we'd need to finance a large portion of it, which was a bit scary at first. The best news of all, was that we were able to bypass all of the preliminary testing that patients need to undergo before starting the process, as we had completed all of them prior to our most recent IVF cycle (including the dreaded HSG).  We were able to proceed directly to the mock cycle, the step immediately prior to selecting a donor.

The next several weeks were filled with introductions to my donor team, and starting the mock cycle, which consisted of taking estrogen injections in order to build up my uterine lining.  After 2 weeks of injections, I went in for bloodwork and ultrasound, where I learned that my lining responded really well to the injections, and I was given the all clear to move ahead.  We couldn't have been more thrilled - in theory, this means that if the right embryo is placed into my uterus, it will implant.  We all know that everything always looks great on paper, so who knows what will really happen, but it definitely was encouraging news.

Today we received the access code that DE patients receive in order to access the donor database.  There are currently only a few donoros who are slated as 1:3 donors - one donor to 3 recipients, which we have decided to do.  We took a look at the database and weren't blown away by anyone just yet - I guess I thought I would go onto the database and we'd fall in love with someone immediately and want to select right away, but clearly that is not how it's going to work, and that is o.k.  We want to take our time and make sure we are comfortable with whomever we select.  It's definitely an interesting process - the donors provide baby pictures, some also provide adult pictures, and they complete an extensive survey about their family, medical, social and educational histories.  I think this will be just like everything else - we'll know when it's right, even if we have to wait a few weeks until the right donor is available.

I do plan on posting more often as we get further into the process, there are so many details that we have to get through once we pick a donor.  With a 1:3 match a lot of coordinating has to take place, and depending on your "position" as a recipient, there is a chance your cycle could get cancelled if the donor doesn't produce enough quality eggs.  One donor and 3 recipients means coordinating 4 womens' cycles, which I'm told is not as complicated (or as lengthy of a process) as it seems to me.  One thing is for certain - we know we need to be patient, as this new frontier could lead us through some bumpy terrain, but hopefully will ultimately lead us to our new little bundle.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Finding Me Again

On this night 23 years ago, I was a bright eyed, innocent 13 year old, who had just achieved a milestone that most Jewish young girls strive to attain - a Bat Mitzvah.  On the evening of March 4, 1989, I was surrounded by a slew of family, my parents' friends, and at least 50 friends of my own, at the party that my parents planned for 2 years, and one that went down as one of the most memorable among my circle.  My father always liked to do things big, he spared no expense to throw a party that would provide an original theme, the best food, the best band...a wedding 13 years in the making.  I look back at that night, thinking of how vibrant my parents were, how my beautiful baby brother (2 and a half years old at the time) was running around in his adorable tuxedo until he was wisked away by a babysitter for the evening, and how I was filled with a sense of innocence, and pride for what I had accomplished.  If I could only go back to that night and hold my family tight for just one moment, maybe it would help ease the ache in my heart for all that's been lost.

Aside from the nostalgia that I am feeling this evening, I have made some strides in the last month since I last posted.  I didn't have a lot to say for awhile, and just did what I could to move past the most recent IVF/loss.  Every day I went through the motions of getting out of bed, getting Smiley ready for school, going to work, picking her up, scraping some sort of dinner together, putting Smiley to bed, and collapsing on the couch.  I had zero energy, I felt heavy, downtrodden, sad.  R and I weren't connecting, I didn't want to talk to anyone about how I was feeling, including my therapist.  I was overwhelmed by what our next steps in our journey would be, and I started thinking about ending our journey for a second child completely. 

A couple of weeks after my beta, I got a call from a friend of mine who had lost her mom over the summer to an agressive form of leukemia, and has a daughter 2 weeks older than Smiley.  This friend had been struggling since the passing of her mom, and had fallen into a pretty deep depression.  She has also suffered a couple of miscarriages; the loss of our mothers is not the only thing we have in common, so I consider her a "safe" person that I can open up to.  My friend shared with me that as she hit her lowest point in October, she was introduced to the practice of Chakra Balancing, and had begun seeing a Master Chakra Balancer, through the Washington Institue of Natural Medicine.  The techniques this person uses are unconventional to Western physicians, and not always looked upon as valid.  But my friend shared how she went from being extremely depressed, to feeling rejeuvenated and alive again - so much so that her husband began treatments as well, and the two of them are in a place they haven't been since they first got married.  She encouraged me to go see this person (I'll call him "D") at least once, to see if this could be a process that would help me feel better, get my energy levels up, and put me in a place where I could be more clear headed in our "next step" decision making. 

I had my first session with D in early February; my friend came with me to lend some moral support (which I very much appreciated).  D is an unassuming, average sized man, who greeted me with a big smile.  This first session lasted an hour and a half, we spent much of the session talking about my life, talking about how D became a Chakra Master (he basically left a crazy life on Wall Street in search of spiritual peace..of which he found, and has been helping others achieve for 17 years), and the rest of the session I was laying on a massage table, having my Chakras evaluated by D, through various energy healing techniques.

I wish I could provide a detailed explanation of what the Chakra system is, but I confess that I am still really learning about it all, as I go through the process. I can refer you to this wikipedia article for a crash course in Chakras, but basically the Chakras are energy centers that act as "energy junctions" in the body.  There are 7 major Chakras in the body that are patterns of energy that correspond to a unique aspect of our being.   At the most basic level - if your Chakras are out of balance - you feel like crap.  Pure and simple.  A Chakra Balancer uses specific techniques to help "unblock" the energy flow to each Chakra, and help restore balance to the system.  I have had 4 sessions total with D, and I can honestly say that I have felt a huge improvement comparied to how I was feeling before I started seeing him, so much so that I have taken a break from my therapsit, and have committed to 6 sessions, and will likely commit to more. 

R has been very support of this process, which I am so relieved about.  I wasn't sure how he was going to feel about it - it really does sound hokey when you try to explain it, for some, it is very "out there."  It is really not much different than trying accupuncture; it's just working on a different aspect of your energy system.  I am not going into this process thinking that it's going to help me get pregnant, rather I am doing something to help me feel better, to be a better parent, better wife, and be better to myself. So far, I am so happy with how this is going, and I believe that others can sense that something is different about me, but they don't know what it is. If they were able to look into my being, they would see that I'm beginning to feel like myself again - and really since my mom died 9 and a half years ago, I had forgotten what being me felt like.  I'm looking forward to re-discovering myself as I go further into this process, and to feeling like I'm living life again instead of merely getting by.  I think the me from 1989 would be proud :)

Monday, January 23, 2012


My beta today came back negative.  I knew it would, given what I've been physically experiencing - but there was still that part of me that hoped for a miracle, given that I was sure that I was having a miscarriage when I learned I was pregnant with Smiley. 

I left work early today and plan to keep it light tomorrow.  Given this is a very early loss, the cramping is moderate but not severe (I've had worse during other losses that were farther along) but I think I have earned the chance to relax a little and regroup, and will then move on to figure out next steps.  I drove to a 7-Eleven on my way home and picked up a big gulp of diet coke, and we have our take out sushi menu ready to go for tonight's dinner. 

I am grateful that this was not dragged out like it has been in the past - one, two, or 3 weeks of pregnancy and then an ultrasound that reveals no heart beat - or spontaneous bleeding that sends me to the ER in a panic.  It was barely 24 hours of being semi-hopeful, but wary of a low beta.  Still an extremely sad and disappointing turn of events, but given my track record, not a surprise.  It still hurts, and I never get used to the disappointment.

On that note, I am going to give my sweet daughter a huge squeeze, and will likely not let her go until I put her to bed tonight.  I have much more than so many in this community have, and I don't take that lightly.  Hopefully once this pain subsides, we will be ready to decide on a next step, but for now, it's time to heal.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

From hope to disappointment in less than 24 hours

Friday was definitely a nail biter of a day for me.  I was up at 5:30am to head into DC for my beta, had it drawn by 7:00am and was at work by 8:00am.  That made for a very long wait.  I didn't have much going on at work until 1pm - I had one meeting at 10:00am and I realized during that meeting that I was shivering from nerves so badly that my teeth were chattering.  I hoped that no one noticed and did my best to take deep breaths and try to control my nerves, but it was a very difficult task, and I pretty much shivered in the conference room for 45 minutes. 

By 12:30 I was starting to get really anxious, at 1pm I had to drive to a lunch appointment with my boss, and I really did not want to have to answer that phone call while he was in the car.  I called my RE's office and they didn't have the results yet, they would call between 1pm and 2pm.  Lucky me.

At 1:15 I got the call, as expected, with my boss in the car. I tried to maintain a very neutral tone to my voice, when the nurse (unfortunately not my usual nurse, she was off on Friday) said, "congratulations, your test came back positive."  In a pleased yet controlled voice I said that was wonderful, and to share the details.  She said my beta was 25, not as high as they'd like, so they want me to come in on Monday for beta #2.  I asked if she's seen people with betas that low have successful situations, she said, "sometimes."  So now I had to go into a lunch meeting with 3 physicians, and pretend that I wasn't out of my mind nervous.  Did I have a late implantor?

Unfortunately, yesterday afternoon I started spotting, and throughout the day, the spotting turned into a regular flow.  I called my nurse and asked if it was possible to come in this morning for a blood draw, but she said that there were no procedures scheduled for today, so they weren't going to be in the office.  I'll have to wait until Monday.  I am pretty sure this is the end of the road for this cycle, even though I had a lot of bleeding with Smiley during my first trimester, the subchorionic hemorage showed itself after the embryo already had a sac and fetal pole - my beta was in the 10,000's by then.  I bet that tomorrow, my beta will be down to zero.

My mother in law was here this weekend and I did not make for good company.  I spent most of the weekend in my room - I tried to make it out with R, Smiley and my MIL for dinner, but I ended up feeling really lousy, and had my dad take me home. 

I guess we now really need to decide what our next step will be.  If I was 100% sure that this was all an egg quality issue, I would want to start the DE process tomorrow.  But there is still a nagging voice in my head that is telling me that it could be something that they still haven't idendified that causes me to miscarry, and DE is not the silver bullet answer, in that instance.  Maybe adoption is the best answer for us?  I just don't know.  All I do know is as soon as I know that my beta is dropping, I will be opening a bottle of wine.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Eleventh Hour

I have my beta tomorrow, and it can't come soon enough.  I have been a bit of a mess these last two weeks, I'm not really sure why.  You'd think that after having gone through 6 previous IVF cycles, I'd be used to this wait by now, and should be able to breeze through it.  Somehow, I breezed through the cycle itself, but once the transfer had come and gone, my anxiety about the outcome of the cycle went into overdrive. 

My overall feelings about the cycle are pretty negative.  I think about the quality of my embryos and know that they were not great.  I did not ask my RE what he thought the chance of success was, but my nurse assured me that she sees people come in with embroys much worse than mine, who end up having success.  It's hard to be hopeful when your embryos aren't stellar.

I am comforted by the fact that I will know either way very soon, and I can move on.  I am not really sure what moving on will mean - but I'm pretty sure this is it for my eggs.  Do we move on to DE?  Do we explore adoption? Do we do nothing?  I think about my super small family, and I feel so sad for Smiley.  My brother is a poor excuse for an uncle and if he stays out of jail or alive long enough to really make an impact on her life, it will be a surprise.  My father's heatlh isn't great, so who knows how much longer he has, realistically.  That leave's my MIL.  No cousins for Smiley, no other aunts and uncles.  I am very thankful for the extended family that we have, who do make an effort with us and include us in their lives, and of course, our wonderful friends who have truly become our family.  But I can't help but think that Smiley deserves to have a sibling to journey through life with.  I think I would feel differently if I knew she wouldn't some day be alone.

I have to get these negative thoughts out of my head - it hasn't helped that things with my dad and brother have been difficult lately, that extra added stress has been unnecessary.  Something else that I should just be used to by now, given that we've dealt with this for the past 9 and a half years since my mother died.

For now I will just keep myself as busy as possible until tomorrow morning.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The 2WW, how it magically slows time

I had so many intentions of blogging frequently throughout this last cycle. I am not sure why I didn't, I think I wanted to just take things day by day and blog about it after the fact.  I ended up beginning the suppression part of my cycle on December 17th, where I started a regimine of Cetrotide and Provera for a week.  Then I began my Follistim, Menapur, and Ganirelix on Christmas eve.  I had a very different type of experience cycling this time around.  Cooincidentally everything fell during the holidays, and I had decided a couple of months ago that I was going to take time off between Christmas and New Years.  This was the longest amount of time I had taken off in a year, since my ectopic last December.  From December 23rd until January 3rd I was on a blissful "staycation", which I thoroughly enjoyed.  My only inconvenience during this time was having to make my 7am monitoring appointments.  I live in the suburbs of Washington, DC, and my clinic is right in Downtown DC, so on my monitoring days, I would wake up at 5:30 so I could leave by 6:15, to make sure I could get a decent parking spot by 6:45.  Luckily, I was able to turn around and go back home after those appointments, as opposed to going into work, which was what I've done during previous cycles.  There was something about eliminating the work related stresses this time around, that made everything so much easier on me.  I spent so much quality time with Smiley, R, good friends and family during those 11 days, it made the injections and the monitoring appointments a piece of cake. I honestly think that the holidays themselves were more stressful than my cycle.

Things began to get interesting right after the New Year, right as I had to go back to work.  Wednesday 1/4 was my retrieval, and my transfer was Friday 1/6.  During my retrieval they were able to get 12 eggs, 10 that were mature.  Of those eggs, 6 fertilized, but only 5 normally.  My doctor decided that he wanted to do a 2 day transfer, because he believes that embryos ultimately do better in the womb (rather than in a dish) and I didn't have too many stellar ones to choose from.  There were really only 2 that were not fragmenting by day 2.  In the end, we transfered 4.  My doctor gave me the required speech about the risks of transfering so many, the possibility of multiples, but he understands that our track record dictates that it's not too likely that this will happen, that we'll be super lucky to get one out of this, and hopefully one that we won't miscarry.

And now, we wait.  I had my 24 hours of bedrest, and hope to stay as busy as possible over the next 2 weeks.  My birthday is next Monday, so there are lots of birthday related activites that will be starting next weekend, and will take me through beta day.  It is a true 2ww, given that my transfer was so early.

I always find that these 2 weeks go slower than any normal two week time frame.  It's like as soon as those embryos are transfered, some magical force slows time to almost a standstill, especially during those last few days before beta day.  I am not sure if I am going to break down and test this time around.  I tell myself to wait, and then ultimately I end up testing, but this time I really want to hold to it, so it doesn't ruin my birthday plans.  We will see what happens, it's all out of my hands, and I can only continue to be grateful for my beautiful girl.