Thursday, May 31, 2012

California Dreaming & IVF #2 Updates


I'm so excited!  As previously mentioned, after failed IVF #1, we knew we would start right in on IVF #2.  That said, we knew that after IVF #2, whether we get good or bad news (PRAYING for GOOD news!), we would be in need of a vacation.  Initially the islands cascaded our minds... Aruba, a Sandals resort to re-live our Honeymoon... we went back and forth and then one morning I mentioned the Pacific Coast Highway in California.  So... after a day of researching the roadtrip down Route 1, we were sold!  In August, we will be flying out to San Francisco and will drive down to San Diego over the course of 8 nights. 
Our roadtrip has us spending 2 nights in San Francisco, 1 night in Monterey (where Nick will golf at one of the famous Pebble Beach golf courses, while I plan to relax by the pool and indulge in some spa treatments!), 1 night in Santa Barbara, 2 nights in L.A. (Beverly Hills (!!!) to be exact!) and then 2 nights in San Diego (we opted for Coronado Bay instead).  We can hardly wait.  A vacation is JUST what we need.  Coincidentally, Nick and I share the same birthday - August 23rd (I am an hour and a half older) - so, we are excited to spend this monumental birthday (it will be our 30th) together, as we ride in style (ha!) in our convertible throughout the streets of Beverly Hills!  Whoop, whoop!!  We pray that we'll also be celebrating a baby on the way and that we'll be given the BEST birthday gift in the world!

Now back to reality.... IVF #2.... I started my stims on Sunday evening - but just the Lupron micro-dose.  Monday morning I began taking both the Lupron md and 250 iu of Follistim in the morning and then again in the evening as well.  I have a doctor's appointment on Friday morning and am hoping and praying that I'll have lots and lots of follicle growth!  Friday will be my 5th day of stims.  I'm GUESSING that my egg retrieval will be around Monday the 11th... but who knows!

On another note, acupuncture is going well.  I'm actually really enjoying it.  For someone who finds it nearly impossible to relax, I'm surprised after every session that I was able to do just that!  I've been going on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and while I am very happy with the result of feeling relaxed, I just pray to God that the treatments are doing something more inside of me... that the needles and all of the stimulation is helping my poor (quality) eggs. 

It's been a rough road getting to IVF #2 and this time is just different.  I feel different.  Sadly, I don't have nearly as much hope.  If the first IVF didn't work, then why would the second one?  Perhaps I'm just shielding myself from the potential disappointment and heartbreak at the end of this cycle... Whatever the reason, I hope I'm wrong.  In the meantime, I'm just trying to take one day at a time while dreaming of cruising the coast of Cali with my DH in just a few short months.

xoxo, Aubrey Blair

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Scarlett Letter of Infertility

warning: I'm bitter...

The past week or so has been rough for me.  Really rough.  While it's been 2 1/2 weeks since I officially learned IVF #1 failed, for some reason I still feel like I'm in the throughs of hearing that news and trying to deal with the devastating let-down.  I've tried to move forward, taking one step at a time, but lately taking those steps forward has been arduous!  I'm learning that the devastating blow from May 7th, isn't out of my system. I.AM.NOT.OVER.IT! 

That said - time is a blessing and it keeps moving forward, pushing me along as it ticks on... Although, while I'm (trying but, perhaps not so successfully) moving forward, it seems as if the people who knew about IVF #1 feel the urge to talk about it WITH ME!!!  Now, I understand that while some people may think it's awkward to not say anything at all (therefore, saying something that probably doesn't come out right), others truly want to express their sorrows for me.  Perhaps some day I will understand this a bit more and will eventually be thankful for others' comments (which, deep down I know truly does stem from their care and concern for me), but right now - Reminder: See warning above. I'm bitter. - I don't want your pity and sorrow.  Believe me, I have enough of that for myself!!!!  What's interesting though, is that people's pity and sorrow seems to follow me around (Now, this could be because I'm now only just seeing the people that know about failed IVF #1, or, there is the possibility that it's all in my head.  For my sanity's sake, I'm going with the former!).  Honestly though, lately I feel as if I'm Hester from The Scarlett Letter, only instead of wearing the letter "A", I'm wearing a big fat "I" for Infertile.  I swear, it draws people to me... and these people just tend to say the dumbest things... For example:

DP (dumb people): Hiiiiii!!!!! You look FANTAAAASTIC!!!!
Me: Oh, thanks.
My head: Thanks I feel like sh**!! I've gained weight, my clothes don't fit and it's NOT because I'm pregnant. Thanks for the reminder though!

DP: Howwww are youuuu doinnnnggg (In a whispered, hushed and drawn out tone as if to say "I'm soooo sorry for you..")?
Me: I'm OK.
My head: I'm HORRIBLE. Thanks for the reminder though!

Those are my two favorites.  And after those pitiful conversations is when I really feel like my Scarlett "I" is shining bright for the whole wide world to see.

I have a couple of weddings to attend this weekend and to be completely and utterly honest with you - I'm dreading them (in a completely selfish sort of way).  First reason being because I've gained weight, my clothes don't fit and I feel horrible about myself - mentally and physically.  Second reason being, and perhaps this is the more lump-in-my-throat reason of the two, I would have sworn that I was going to be pregnant for these weddings.  You see, events throughout the year tend to be marked in your calendar early on.  After my ET, I spent the weekend with my parents in Connecticut (DH was away and I needed my mom to give me my PIO injections).  I was filled with SUCH an enormous amount of hope.  I knew of these upcoming weddings and went dress shopping with my mom.  While in the fitting room, I mentally (heck! there was nothing mental about this - my mom and I had IN-DEPTH conversations about this!) chose the dresses that, while beautiful and were ones I loved, had some "give" to them in the abdomen area.  Granted, I knew that had my pregnancy test turned out to be positive, I would not be showing AT ALL at this point - but these dresses would surely mask the bloating.  Now that I'm not pregnant (ugh, I hate saying that!), the last two dresses on the face of the Earth that I want to wear this weekend are the ones I bought that day.  So, now that I don't want to wear the dresses with the "give" in the abdomen area, I'm left to wear ones that hug my every curve (and flab) and leave me to feel even more large (dresses that fit me to the tee only a year ago, prior to being doped up on every hormonal medication known to God that causes bloating, weight gain and every other pregnancy symptom there is, without the actual pregnancy!).

Ok... I'm reeling myself back in... Tonight is my last night of the BCP.  Tomorrow morning I have my suppression check (blood and an ultrasound - to confirm no cysts).  Tomorrow marks the beginning of IVF #2, of literally being attached to my cell phone constantly awaiting doctors' calls, of giving myself shots 4x per day, of being doped up on even more hormones and of probably feeling more looney than I do now (!!), and finally, of constant worrying until my pregnancy test.  I don't know if I can handle this....

Praying for no cysts tomorrow, a flat, un-bloated tummy for the wedding on Friday and most importantly for the strength to continue to move forward, taking one step at a time.

Aubrey Blair

Monday, May 14, 2012

Next Steps

So, cycle #2 begins tonight!  Well... not technically.  Tonight, I'm just starting the BCP again.  Luckily this time, I'll only be taking it for 11 nights.  I go to the doctor on May 25th for blood and an ultrasound to confirm that I'm suppressed.  From there, I'll be instructed to take Lupron & Follistim both twice a day... that's when cycle #2 really starts!  I'm glad to begin the process again.  Glad because now I feel like I'll be able to work on shifting my mind and emotions from sadness and grief to having hope and faith again (and fear and worry and anxiety...). 

BUT, to help with the fear and the worry and the anxiety, I'm offically a patient of acupuncture.  I had my first appointment last week.  After worrying ALL.DAY.LONG about what I was going to have to wear (seriously, I'm crazy like that!), I think it actually helped me to relax a little.  I definitely felt something.  I had needles in my hands, on the insides of my knees, below my knees, on my feet and then he put one in my forehead and one right in the top of my head.  I also had a heat lamp over my feet.  Then I was left to relax.  Of course when you're trying so hard to relax, you can't.  But then in the midst of trying so hard to relax, I realized that I felt pulsing where the needles were.  I started to fixate on the pulsing and before I knew it, I wasn't asleep, but I was calm and I was breathing very slowly.  I think I believe in acupuncture!  While I'm not sure it will result in a successful IVF cycle, I do think it has the potential to help, even just a little bit with my fears, my worries and my anxiety... even if it's just for the hour that I'm there two times each week.  (oh... and for the record... I didn't have to wear a hospital gown and I was able to keep my clothes on - I just roll my pants up above my knees and take my shoes/socks off... Now I know to definitely just wear yoga pants and a tee shirt next time!).

Praying for a fear-free, worry-free, and anxiety-free 11 days on the BCP as well as another insurance approval for IVF #2 (and selfishly, I'm praying for no more weight gain while on the BCP -my waistline can't take anymore!).

Aubrey Blair

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Officially Not Pregnant

I had my BETA yesterday morning.  Of course I took an HPT -- which was negative -- before I left for the doctor's, so I really didn't have much hope.  DH and I worked from home so that we could talk to my doctor on speaker phone when she called with the official results.  We wanted to be able to ask her about next steps together.

Prior to receiving the official negative results, we decided a couple of things 1.) that we would jump right back into another cycle of IVF (i.e. as soon as AF comes) and 2.) that we would keep this cycle very close to home - we decided to only inform our parents and siblings of our plans to go through IVF #2.  Over the course of my first IVF cycle, I had started to share our infertility story with some extended family and close friends.  At the time, I felt very comforted by everyone's thoughts, prayers and support.  But, getting a negative and then having to inform all these people of that just nauseates me.  The more times I have to tell someone that it didn't work just brings so much of the sadness and anger back into the forefront of my mind.  Naturally, people ask if we're going to do IVF again or if we're going to take a break.  Truthfully, I'd probably ask someone the same question (if I had never gone through infertility).  It's just hard for me right now to have to explain something so personal to people, who mostly don't really understand what we're going through.  I know I may sound bitter, and while I don't mean to, I guess deep down I really am.  I'm bitter about all of this and I just wish that these crappy cards weren't dealt to me.

But those crappy cards were dealt to me... and to (hopefully) help me through that, I've decided to try acupuncture.  I contacted a place yesterday and I have an evaluation tonight.  I have no idea what to expect, but I will try anything at this point.  If nothing else, I'm hoping that the acupuncture may at least help me to deal with the stress that's brought about with infertility.

So... now we wait for AF to come (it's funny how you pray that it won't come during the 2 week wait and then once you get a negative, you pray for the opposite -- that it will come sooner than later so that you can start back up again!).  From there, I'll take birth control for 10-12 days and will then start my 2nd IVF cycle.  This time, I'll be on the "Flare" protocol (last time, I was on the "Antagonist" protocol), which amoongst other things, introduces different and more IVF meds.  I've read and heard a lot about Lupron (and am a bit scared that the nickname for this med is "Loopy Lupron" - God help DH!) -- I will be taking Lupron twice a day and then after the first day, will re-introduce Follistim once a day in the evening.  So, rather than taking one shot a day, I will be taking three (in a sick way, I'm excited about this.  I've felt that the more shots I give myself, the more I'm actively doing to help the process along) -- again, God help DH!!

Praying for AF's arrival today and a postive/successful acupuncture evaluation tonight!

Aubrey Blair

Sunday, May 6, 2012

10dp 3dt = BFN

This morning I took an HPT. It was clearly negative with only one line visible. We are sad and feel heartbroken today. While I'm not betting on it, I'm still trying to be hopeful that I will somehow have a positive BETA tomorrow. Will be saying lots of prayers today and tonight - I'm having a hard time imagining having to go through this ALL again right now...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

7dp 3dt

Read: 7 days past 3 day transfer

Let me back up...

Late in the afternoon on Friday, April 20th, I learned that my Egg Retrieval (ER) was scheduled for Monday, April 23rd at 8:30 a.m.  I was instructed to take my last shot of 450 iu of Follistim on Friday evening, take my HCG trigger shot on Saturday evening at 9 p.m. and then not to take anything on Sunday.

As luck would have it (insert sarcasm here!), we woke up to POURING rain on Monday morning.  We sat in so much traffic on our way to my doctor's office that we almost didn't make it.  Thankfully my husband just starting driving in the breakdown lane to bypass some of the traffic and we arrived just about 15 minutes prior to 9 a.m.  They quickly whisked us to the little waiting room - I changed into my johnny and Nick was by my side as the nurses prepped me.  Nick and I said goodbye and I walked into the little OR ready to go!  I was excited and nervous and very, very anxious.  When I awoke from the sedation, Nick was back at my side and the nurse explained that the doctor was able to retrieve 4 eggs.  I was happy, but still a little worried because I knew that the next 24 hours would be crucial.  This is when the eggs would, or should, fertilize.  The nurse kept telling me "it only takes one!" and she assured me that 4 eggs retrieved is good.  We went home and I slept and watched movies for the remainder of the day. 

**Insert progesterone in oil (PIO) shots here.  My husband was instructed to give me this intra muscular shot in my buttox that evening.  I would continue to take these shots at least until my pregnancy test.  These shots are not fun.  They are painful.  The needle is long.  I don't like them, but by God, I would take them every night for the rest of my life if I end up with a baby(ies) after all of this!
PIO Injections
The following day I had planned to work from home to 1. rest and relax post ER and 2. (and more importantly) so that I wouldn't be at work when I received the call about how many eggs had or hadn't fertilized.  I was praying ALL day.  The hours passed and as they passed, my stomach grew more and more knots.  FINALLY a little before 3 p.m., I called my nurse and asked for a report.  She confirmed 2 eggs fertilized!  Then, she got herself confused and wasn't so sure.  She said she'd call me right back.  I hung up the phone and prayed aloud to God to PLEASE let 2 be the correct number.  I was so worried that maybe none had fertilized.  My nurse called me back within 5 minutes and re-confirmed that we had 2 embryos!  I was ecstatic.  After hanging up, I started crying - tears of pure joy.  I could not believe it.  My doctor ended up calling me later that evening to let me know that both embryos were 1 cell, normal embryos.  She reiterated the fact that they'd need to continue to grow each day and that they'd be checked again tomorrow.  She said that *IF* the embryos make it, I will be scheduled for a day 3 transfer (ET: egg transfer).  She also mentioned that the embryologist suggested assisted hatching.  The zona (lining) of my embryos were fairly thick and with assisted hatching, the embryologist would essentially "poke" the lining right before the ET so that my embryos will have an easier time hatching out of their shells to (hopefully) implant in my uterus.
I thought that after receiving the fertilization report, that I would feel much more calm and relaxed.  But, the next day, I was on the edge of my seat.  I just HAD to know if my embryos continued to divide and grow.  Well, divide and grow they did!  I had one 3 cell and one 4 cell embryo and both were Grade B.  I'll take it!  I was scheduled to have the transfer the following morning at 10:30 a.m.  The nurse mentioned that the embryologist would be checking my embryos again that morning to ensure that they continued to divide and grow overnight.  She mentioned that my appointment was booked and if for some reason my embryos didn't make it overnight, that they'd call me that morning to cancel.

My mom came up to take me to my transfer appointment.  The entire ride to my doctor's office, I was worried that my phone would ring and that my transfer would be cancelled.  Luckily, that did not happen and my doctor met my mom and I in the waiting room.  We could both see that she was holding a picture of both of my EIGHT CELL embryos!  I was thrilled with that report and was very happy that I could take my picture home with me!  The transer was quick and painless.  The most pain I had was just from having a full bladder!  Interestingly enough, I had just seen an ET on TV a couple nights prior to mine on Giuliana and Bill.  I totally knew what to expect.  My doctor was amazing - she is so calm and even keeled.  She completely put me at ease.  She told me that my age is a huge positive factor (even with everything we know and have found out during this infertility process!) and she said her fingers and toes will be crossed for me.
ET Day and my 2 embryos!
Since the ET, I've felt totally normal.  Well, aside from my rear end - those darn PIO shots!  The day after my transfer (1dp3dt), I don't think I felt any different.  2dp3dt I remember my chest feeling a little sore and then on 3dp3dt - 5dp3dt I had slight twinges of cramping on and off and my chest continued to feel sore.  Yesterday was 6dp3dt and I had cramping  Yesterday was rough for me, I was worried that the constant cramping was a negative sign.  I scoured the Internet to see if this is "normal".  I'm at a loss.  I have no idea if this is good or bad.  I gave up, had an emotional night and went to bed!  Today is 7dp3dt.  A week ago today I had my transfer.  I can't believe a week as gone by!  I haven't had much cramping today - maybe just a little on and off.  Also, my chest doesn't feel as sore today.  Again, I don't know if this is good or bad.  I did read that on the 7dp3dt cycle day, implantation is complete.  Tomorrow HCG will begin to release.  I won't test early, or, at least not that early.  My BETA is scheduled for Monday morning.  I'm praying to God that at least one of my embryos divided, grew, stuck, implanted and is growing into a healthy little baby!

I've been having a difficult time envisioning a positive outcome at the end of this.  I think I'm just trying to brace myself for the potential bad news.  I'm scared for Monday, but also excited and anxious.  I know I need to dig deep these next few days and do my best to be hopeful and positive.  After all (I read this on a fellow Infertility Blog), right now I'm pregnant until proven otherwise!

Praying for lots of baby dust and sticky vibes!

Aubrey Blair
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