Sunday, May 8, 2011

IVF #1 - Failed


This morning I was awakened by a phone call from the embryologist. Obviously, I knew it wouldn't be good news if she were calling me. She informed me that the embryo's development "arrested" - so that's it. Just as simple as that, this cycle is over.

I have so much to vent right now - I feel so many emotions at this time- about my IVF, infertility, and my support system. Like so many women, it is hard to face after you have tried all that you possibly can, only to get this type of outcome! It makes you wonder how could a second try really be better when I already put forth my best. I'm feeling so hurt right now - how am I supposed to muster up the energy to try again. How!?

It's been a tough week all around. To only have three oocytes from six follicles -already a bad sign. To have two of them die immediately was crushing. And now the final one is gone. Then the other day a friend, who has been a wonderful support, mentioned all the positives regarding her fertility which made me crumble into pain about my situation. Cognitively, I know she wasn't trying to brag, however emotionally that is what it felt like.

I guess I am asking too much that people keep in mind what I have gone through these past four weeks. I mean, she does have her own situation to contend with. I felt that given that she isn't infertile- she simply does not understand the feelings of helplessness and shame. However, I still can't let go of the fact that she knew how unusually difficult and expensive my IVF process was ($7,000 on medications alone)! Yet, she did not take that into consideration. It makes me stop and take a pause. Reevaluate and question her true feelings toward me. Is this a competition or true friendship from her standpoint? (Sigh) it simply feels odd to me.

So, unfortunately the confusion regarding a friendship I valued highly coupled with the failure of my IVF led to significant pain today. This was just an awful week and so for now I will allow myself to feel what I feel and focus on picking up the pieces some other time.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Hold on Little Embryo


 My stimming process was quite a stressful time period. It went on for 18 days; I required 9 boxes of 900 iu Gonal F pens, 3 (10 pk) boxes of Menopur, and then from there the typicals (Cetrotide, Ganarelex-3, and Ovidrel). It was a difficult road getting follicles to develop. To my disappointment, I was only able to generate 6 follicles after all that medication. I have suspicions that the protocol simply wasn't appropriate for me. From what I read other protocols, such as 'estrogen priming' would have been better suited and generated more follicles. I had my egg retrieval on Tuesday (5/3/11) and much to my surprise, when I awoke I was informed that three of the follicles were empty. There was no oocyte (egg). I was astonished, disappointed... heart broken. I saw my chances of motherhood again just dwindling. The next day I received a call from the RE explaining that although the follicles were of a size that suggested the eggs were mature, while in the lab they learned 2 of the 3 were not mature and hence those did not fertilize. Now I am down to one embryo.

I hope this little guy is a fighter and that he is strong and can hang in there until egg transfer day, which is scheduled for Monday (5/9/11). Of course I hope that today and tomorrow brings no news from the RE, because 'no news is good news' - it will mean the embryo is progressing and I am still on track for a Monday morning transfer.

It has really been an emotional week. I really thought I would have a chance at 6 oocytes and perhaps 5 or 6 embryos, given the 6 follicles. I had no idea 3 follicles would be empty and two of the three remaining would be immature. As much as I don't want to face reality, it seems I have to come to terms with the likelihood of a 2nd IVF cycle. These cycles are so difficult to go through emotionally, financially, and to some regard physically (numerous daily injections).

I'm pulling for you little embie... this would be the most wonderful Mother's Day gift!


Friday, April 22, 2011

IVF - Stimulation Phase Day 9


The cycle was not cancelled on Wednesday so I was quite relieved! However, I was asked to return today to have the follicle presence and maturation evaluated again. On the 20th they requested I add the medication Menopur to the regimen in order to further assist stimulation, as well as aide maturation of the follicles. This medication is a bit cumbersome to use, as you have to mix it and do a few steps of transferring it from it's glass container into a syringe, etc. When administering Menopur, I've found I've had to slowly inject the substance, in comparison the the injection rate I use with Gonal F. Menopur seems to have a bit of a burn to it! Both go in the tummy region, so as expected I have a 'pin cushion look' going on there.

I sat in the waiting room quite anxious this morning, ruminating ("will I have more follicles"; "are they growing?") Those same thoughts just churning and churning in my head. When they called my name for blood work I felt some relief that it was finally my turn. I was very disappointed in the lab tech I had this morning. Her level of insensitivity was astounding. She told me she was sorry to hear that my IVF cycle may be cancelled due to my poor response. I thanked her for her concern. However, surprisingly she followed by stating that she has no children and thinks it is the most wonderful way to live, "I actually get a chance to live my own life and it's wonderful!!" She told me she could not understand at all why women are so desperate to have a baby and "drive themselves crazy with this." She implied that perhaps I should take my poor response to the medication as a "good sign" /a blessing and perhaps I should go and enjoy my life without children.

I gave a minimal response to her, as she was not my concern this morning. All I had on my mind were my follicles ("how are my pre-babies?!") I attributed her non-empathic ramblings to an emotionally immature woman, who clearly had not developed within the areas of moral reasoning/character. Thankfully, she made the decision not to have children, thereby not damaging the next generation. I and perhaps the rest of society are grateful! It's almost comical that she would have such poor insight to think she were an appropriate fit for a position within a fertility practice.

Anyway, I eagerly awaited the u/s nurse and sadly the results were exactly the same as Wednesday. Three very small follicles - no growth/change. Again, I am awaiting an afternoon phone call to inform me of my E2 level. If it is good we continue; if low the cycle is canceled.

IVF is such a roller coaster ride. I'll push back my tears for now and see what news the afternoon brings.

IVF - Stimulation Phase


I visualized this process entirely differently from the experience I am having. I am on cycle day 7 of stimulation and at this point I have three very small follicles. Prior to this IVF I envisioned I would have approximately 10 follicles by this time and moving along nicely toward egg retrieval. Rather for me, it seems I am at risk of having my IVF cycle cancelled entirely and then reassessed to gear up for a new cycle in the future. I am awaiting a call from my RE's office to find out if my estrogen is moving along well enough for me to continue this cycle.

At this point my medication regimen consists of Gonal F. I've read this drug is a great choice for women like me.  <sigh> But why isn't it working! It's so disheartening when you stare at the u/s and see no growth of the follicles. I'm trying to hold on and be strong, however, I feel at the mercy of my body. A body that is not cooperating with me! Come on follicles, you can do it!!

If this IVF cycle is not cancelled later today, I will continue to follow the medication regimen and keep in mind that I only need one perfect egg (not several) to give me a baby.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Can I Still Conceive?


Two months ago I visited my RE to review my initial labs (FSH, AMH, E), I was disheartened to learn how far outside of the normal range my results fell. True I am 40 years old, however, I felt that I had been vigilant about my health my entire life. In fact, at the age of 36 and 37 I was an NFL cheerleader, where optimal physical fitness, flexibility, stamina, and dance were an integral part of the job requirement. Ok- that may have come across as a bit self centered (sorry) - but my point is, I am someone who always paid attention to my health and fitness.

Well, that day I learned that one's fertility declines tremendously (at age 40) regardless of other indicators of physical health. It's primarily age driven (at least, that is the situation for me). I sat there in shock... tears in my eyes as I looked at my lab report indicating an AMH far below one (1) and FSH above 14. Why and how could this have happened when I am such a health buff! Dr. X's response, "Some career women think their fertility will wait for them ... I see this all the time!" (Gasp) Did he really just say that to me! "No, Dr. X, I've wanted a baby for the past 7 years, I've just not been able to get the right man. Believe me!" In a tone of sarcasm, his response was, "Well, I guess you are one of the few career women who chose to wait but say they didn't put their job first!" Wow, how insensitive! It's bad enough to learn that you have indications of infertility, however simultaneously you have to hear your RE tell you that you are likely in this situation at 40 because you were so self centered by focusing on your career. That couldn't be further from the truth- I never put career first! I've been in private practice for 11 years, so there is no corporate ladder to climb. In my particular field I can take off however/whenever I would like for pregnancy and a child. I was insulted by his off handed comment that I put my career before family. I wanted so badly to tell him that my reality was 1) a string of bad men, 2) integrity of not wanting to trap a man, and 3) a fear of considering a sperm donor because I felt that if I just hold out longer 'Mr. Right' will come along. Those are the reasons I was sitting there at 40 with no biological children - it had nothing to do with my career! Geez!

Trying to conceive is certainly a journey. I feel fortunate I have wonderful people in my life to share my feelings with (the good and the bad). To my fellow women trying to add a new baby to their lives and found that you have obstacles, just know that you are not alone.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Let's Discuss IVF :o)


Today I went to my REs office to have the cyst checked on. It was still there, however smaller. She determined it would be fine to proceed with the IVF cycle (hopefully she's right). I'm thrilled, because now I am even closer to my dream baby! The protocol now is to wait for AF and then on cycle day three begin the Gonal F.

After the u/s I met with the nurse to have a medication training class. Ok, girls ... there are many injections involved with this process. Yikes! I predict a red pin cushion tummy in the near future.

I've prepared for my IVF cycle for the past three months. I do hope that this will be my one and only IVF, however I am realistic and understand that my chances are low given my fertility indicators. I think I have done all that I possibly can do.

I'd like to share with you my routine. I am in no way advocating anyone follow my regimen. My routine is based on my labs, AFC, u/c, age, fertility status, etc and hence are personalized for me only. Additionally, I reviewed all my supplements and strategies with my RE and she approved of each for me and stated she was fine with my routine. In fact one of the supplements were recommended by her directly (e.g., DHEA).

Here is my regimen: DHEA, CoQ10 (ubiquinol), inositol, melatonin, prenatal vitamin, Perfect Greens drink mix, Maca, B complex, B-6, Black Cohosh, and a mixture of herbs created by my Chinese Medical doctor/ acupuncturist. Twice a week I go for acupuncture (1 hr sessions) and approximately 4 x's/week I use castor oil packs on my abdomen. Healthy "clean eating" was extremely important to me as well. I have only consumed organic products (unless I went out to eat). To me, my diet was just as important as the other strategies implemented.

When my medications begin, all supplements/ herbs will of course be discontinued, with the exception of the prenatal vitamin. I want nothing to interfere with the fertility medicines performing their job. I will schedule an acupuncture session for the morning of egg retrieval and again on the day of egg transfer.

What are the strategies you have chosen to maximize your IVF/IUI or natural trying to conceive cycle?


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Attachment Parenting


As each day goes by I become more and more excited, as I know that it moves me closer to my IVF cycle. Today my thoughts drifted to the home that my little 'love' will come in to. I will share with you all that I have two adopted teenage children (niece and nephew). We came to be our own little family when they were only toddlers. It was difficult with two little ones a year apart in age, however my natural gravitation toward attachment parenting actually made the process easier!

To me, this form of parenting allows the best opportunity for proper brain development. I view it as my limbic system (emotional center of the brain) directly communicating with their limbic system. They can feel me emotionally and I can feel them. Obviously, as the adult my role is to create an environment of calm and love. They (baby/toddler) can detect my emotional regulation and feel safe and secure. Because of those reasons, attachment parenting is the best fit for me.

I look forward to sharing that with my baby when he/she arrives. The 'baby wearing', breast feeding,co-sleeping, etc is such an intensely bonding experience for both baby and mother. It is well known in neuropsychology/ psychology that the child's attachment style during infancy will significantly impact, and in some cases determine, their ability to relate to others throughout their life. It is the primary caregiver (e.g., mother/father) who shapes that attachment pattern/ style.

As you can see, I am looking forward not only to the experience of conceiving, pregnancy, and welcoming a new person into the family, but also the intense love, attachment, and connection that takes place from limbic system (mommy) to limbic system (baby). I can't wait!!


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

'My Girls' Are Just Fine!


The Pink Ribbon

I am so happy to share that the lumps were merely cysts and my diagnostic mammogram and u/s were both fine! I feel so blessed... so fortunate! I was so overcome by grief for the past few days, as the thought of breast cancer was more than I could bare.

The mammogram technician was wonderful. She was friendly, kind, and even provided me with a lead vest, "we have to try our best to protect your ovaries!" Soon following  the mammogram, I was seen by the u/s technician. A few minutes later a bubbly nurse appeared and told me to put my clothes on, "everything looks great- we'll see you next year."

After being informed of the results, I literally jumped up and down and did a little happy dance in the mirror while still in the changing room. My heart breaks for the women who were still waiting for their results today- I'm sure not all of us received good news. I know that this condition (if caught early) isn't a death sentence. However, even knowing THAT, nothing eases the anxiety of "what happens to me now" that consumes you when you may have a diagnosis of breast cancer.

I will say a prayer of gratitude tonight. My IVF is still on track and my health is good. Nothing is more precious and valuable as health and I suppose I needed that scare to put it all in perspective. No, I was not diagnosed with breast cancer, however for three days I carried a fear that kept me preoccupied.

Thank you to everyone for the kind emails and well wishes! I really appreciated it! I'm back on track now and working on nourishing my eggs/follicles!! I have an ultrasound (transvaginal) on Friday to check on that cyst on my ovary.

Take care all and make sure you "Know your Girls" (Yoplait/Susan Kormen)!! Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Little Blue Today


Going through the entire IVF process is taxing to say the least. Even before the actual IVF cycle begins- there's blood work to assess your health from all angles (e.g., sexual, fertility, etc). I had to complete genetic testing as well as a mammogram. After a wonderful day out with a friend yesterday, I came home to a letter from the hospital. They were writing to inform me there was a problem found on my mammogram and they need me to return for a more comprehensive mammogram and ultrasound.

I'm trying to be positive, because having negative energy during this process would be detrimental. However, I still can't help but worry. My plan is to call the hospital in the morning and try to set up the additional testing. I hope that all will be well with this.

Friday, April 1, 2011

My Special Sperm Donor


I really enjoyed choosing my donor.  I spent about three weeks sifting through the various donors on the cryobank website. I was searching for that perfect one for me. When I found him, I can’t explain the feeling of joy, excitement and relief that came over me (cue angels singing hallelujah). This is the ONE!

This donor had everything that I was looking for, from impeccable health (self/family), intelligence, motivation, sweet personality, values, and a complete comfort with his offspring contacting him in the future! I loved his voice and the manner he communicated; he was quite funny in conversation with the interviewer. 

Interestingly, his personality profile is the same as mine!! (I’m a neuropsychologist, so I know my personality profile). Hmmmmm perhaps this donor route isn’t so bad after all – I likely would not have met someone so similar to myself, with all the traits I've always wanted in my actual dating life.

His childhood photos were beyond adorable and gorgeous. The staff impressions were extremely good as well. When I called the cryobank to ask if he was as attractive as described in their impressions- she gave an intense “YEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSS!” So, personality, intelligence, looks, and morals- wow!

I actually found ‘Mr. Special’ 2 months ago and at that time I hadn’t had any of my blood work, so I didn’t bother to order him. I mistakenly assumed he would still be there and available. Well- much to my surprise, when I went back the next month he was all OUT!!  They expect more sample availability in mid April. So I have to hold on for two more weeks. I have my phone alarm set for 9 AM (EST) on the day of his release so that I can be the first 'in line' to buy several vials. LOL ... reminds me of the people I see on the news on Black Friday who stand in line outside of stores eager to get in to get their deals. I feel the same way!

I called the cryobank last week to find out if he returned for his 6 month blood work/ testing. I held my breath as she put me on hold while she checked. “Yes, Sophia – he came back and had the blood work.” I was SO excited. Therefore, if his results turn out well, they will release the sample.

This is the special person who will make my baby possible: #12xxx.  I feel that donors are such wonderful people and I am so appreciative of the special gifts they provide.