It has been awhile…

I keep forgetting that I have this blog (not really).  It is just another reminder that I have work to do and a decision to face.  We had a minor cancer scare this week which was nothing (thankfully!) and I am now looking at a June transfer.  I am turning 46 and if I do not use the embryos this year I think it would be wrong for me to do this to potential children and my family.  I know everyone has different perspectives and what works for one person wouldn’t work for me.  So this is it.  I am going to put back all I have and hope that with my new health regime (ahem, my new as in PLANNED but unrealized) plus a little Viagra to get the lining to grow will help.  The female version just went over the counter in France.  More on that for another post.

I’m just writing to say that no, I have not done anything other than think about scheduling an appointment with Dr. Schoolcraft but that I am going to.  No surrogate, just me.  This is pretty scary as I am one heck of a stress machine but it is time for me to stop making excuses and use the embryos I worked so hard to create over four years ago.  Imagine all that time on ice.  If this works I will believe in miracles – well, I guess I do today because I can stop worrying about losing my husband.  It as all nothing. 

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Failed cycles? Plenty of eggs but crappy results? I bet I know why…

I wish I had written this a long, long time ago but it took a friend cycling to make me realize how important the following information will be for those of you going through IVF, IUI….  Do not ever let your follicles get too big.  My former RE likes to trigger when the cohort (most of the eggs) are measuring 17.  The simple fact is that eggs (especially older eggs) often will not have great outcomes if they get much larger than 22.  Heck, even 20.  If you are doing an IVF cycle and you notice that most of your eggs are in the 18 or 19 range then you should have triggered…plain and simple.  Do the research and see what happens when your follicles get too big…  

When in doubt you need to question.  Try a low dose cycle for the heck of it (you can always convert to an IUI).  I find it interesting that I produced the same amount of eggs on 300 menopur/300 follistim as I did with a 150 menopur/150 follistim – sometimes more isn’t better…in fact, sometimes more is not good at all.  Just a little PSA.

Let me know if any of you have had bad results with large follicles (or the reverse and don’t forget your age!).  Good luck to everyone trying….

Recap: Chat with the nurse

Ever notice you get more out of a conversation with nurses than doctors?  At least I do.  I am the kind of person that needs to know everything if it affects my life (from my low vitamin D to IVF to what my son is going to need to succeed in math).  I think they call people like me Google doctors (I’m getting old, there could be another word).  How I lived 30 of my 45 years without google is amazing.  I’m prone to tangents so will not digress…  Digression free posting.

Onward.  So, I called to schedule a chat about a February or March transfer.  I discussed switching to Dr. G simply because I find it hard to cope with Dr. Schoolcraft’s moods (one time he is amazingly supportive and the next I might as well give up).  I know he has a lot on his plate and when he is friendly, I worship him but I don’t know if he understands how one little flippant remark can ruin (at least me) a person for a week??  I read into everything he says.  The nurse told me that there would be a bunch of paperwork and blah, blah, blah to go through and…let’s be honest, I came to CCRM for him.  So I am putting on my big girl panties and will just try to be bulletproof when we have a regroup.  I have already made an arrangement to receive IVig one week before transfer (if my lining looks good) so will be flying back and forth to NYC/Denver a little bit (I’m sure that will help with the relaxation!). I’ve been doing a lot of reading about early miscarriage and implantation failure (thank you for the book, Dr. Jonathan Scher and my kindle).  If you have normal embryos and failure to get pregnant it might just be your immune system.  Oh how I wish CCRM would take that on board and at least TRY it.  So, I’ll be doing what I need to do to make this work with my body.  I have to be honest, I’m terrified on so many levels.

Terrified that it works and I fail these embryos who already have names (that is how confident I need to be) and I save their google email addresses (yes, officially crazy but times are changing!).  I hold on to little signs that it will work but then think about the state of this world, our divisions and greediness and failure to remember the past and learn from it.  I wonder if I am bringing in potentially two children to a world that won’t be able to sustain them.  I think about them suffering or with no home.  I wonder if I am being selfish.  I am also terrified that it won’t happen and that my son’s one wish in life to have a sibling will be over, kaput.  I worry about a lot of things and about people I don’t even know and children who don’t even belong to me.

My son just walked in the room and announced that he is going to be a plumber when he gets older.  Now do you see why I worry?  Well, it is better than a soldier (that was yesterday’s occupation).

I digress.

Starting….to wonder

I came across a piece of paper the other day that was supposed to have been submitted to my accountant. On it was a variety of high ticket items (4k for the pharmacy), 23K for an IVF in NYC, 300 shipping to CCRM (no normals, by the way from that one), 2 x 19,000 for the CGH cycles at CCRM and travel costs (just a few of the examples of what it has cost us financially – not to mention personally – in the attempt to have a sibling for our son). Thanks to a few great companies (both investment banks, by the way who were generous with their benefits) the cost was lessened for our other 8 tries. I believe that, when all is said and done, we have spent well over 200 grand trying to have what normal people do in bed. I feel guilty about it most of the time (hence the relentless work pace and commitment to make up for what I likely deem my failing). Thinking too much. I know it isn’t MY failure but what is it? As I ponder potentially holding one or two children inside my womb at the age of 45 I am faced with a number of really important questions. Such as, will I live long enough to see them graduate from college or even high school for that matter? Will we have enough money to support them and ensure that they are taken care of if one of us isn’t here anymore? Will I be putting their lives at risk and my own? Am I ready to do all of this again? And then I have a little boy who so desperately wants a sibling…..he laments on almost a daily basis. Little comments about how unfair it is that Michael Jackson (his new idol) had three children when he doesn’t even have one. Every comment is a little stab to my heart. I had a long talk with him – a very graphic conversation in which I explained how he we had a difficult time making babies and needed a doctor, about my miscarriage and that I have tried. I also went over the exact process of HOW a child is made (with photos) and he was very interested. I know that sounds a bit premature for a six year/almost seven year old and people have told me that it was a mistake but I disagree. Never will he have that “talk” or he discover it through school yard chit chat (as I did – to my horror “your daddy puts his thing into your mommy’s pee hole – needless to say I was disgusted, afraid of the idea for myself one day and confused). It isn’t a big deal to him and that is what I want, for him to understand that this is a normal and natural process (well, not so much for us but there you go).

So I have been thinking, and reading and wondering if I am the one who should be carrying these embryos. I have one possible person to carry and she is someone who currently works at my preschool. I could help care for her and be there for her every day. I would also miss out on the opportunity to carry my own child….my body also MIGHT kill my child with its ridiculous immune problem. So I made an appointment to see my old doctor. We don’t have a load of cash and I am running out of time but I am determined to use those embryos and give my son, my family and them a chance. I didn’t come this far to give up. I think of them all the time, what they would look like, how they would get on with their brother.

I am also sick. I am not sure what it is but my fingernails tell me. The smoothie revolution continued from last blog until about three weeks ago when we went to England and ate just about everything I never eat (meat, croissant with chocolate, cheese, cheese and more cheese). I have been at my best weight since high school for months. More on that later because I know that people will want to know how I did it. It is amazing. I feel like I reset my body for good. I had a glass of milk the other day – er with my tea and the only thing I could taste was the grass from the cow’s milk. UDDERLY disgusting. I much prefer soy but I think I need to give that up if I am going to do a January transfer.

I have an appointment with my former RE to ask him to manage my autoimmune issues. Blood work came back with elevated APA (blood clotting) and my fingernails are pitting (autoimmune). I cannot chance this not working so we are going to talk intralipid, IVig (at 3K a pop, god help me), prednisone and more. CCRM doesn’t believe in any of it but they do and I know I wouldn’t have Alex without the IVig.

If you have recurrent miscarriage – consider changing your diet and getting off the processed food chain as much as possible. I’m not going to go on a diatribe about GMOs right now.

Not much to report right now but lots more soon.

By the way, most of my family tree has longevity in it. Everyone lived into their 90s. I expect the same to happen over here so I’m going with that for now. I’ll at least get to see him or her or them until I am my age (unless I live as long as my grandmother – she died last year at 99).

I just hope they don’t put me in a home and forget to visit. ;)

Getting ready….with reluctance

I think this is what you call an overdue post. Way overdue but life got in the way…it wasn’t a typical spring for me and that has something to do with it but..more on that later.

I had my APA (antiphospholipids) panel done recently and it came back 45 which is one point higher than normal. The doctor didn’t even call me. I just saw a little tiny note at the bottom which said “consistent with early miscarriage”.

I paused.

WhAT??????????????????? So in essence, the gazillian treatments I have been through and the angst and worry and heartbreak could have warranted a phone call? I had to remind myself that this was my GP dong a test which I requested. They aren’t my RE and they certainly have bigger issues to deal with than my slightly elevated APAs.

I’m planning to try to transfer one or both of the embryos. But something is holding me back. That test result – for example. And this (this is ME! – only CCRM has yet to agree with IVig so I’d have to seek treatment IN ADDITION TO GETTING MY BODY TO DEVELOP A NICE LINING):

The aim of this trial was to investigate the efficacy of massive i.v. immunoglobulin (MIVIg) treatment for women with a history of recurrent spontaneous abortion (RSA) due to unexplained aetiology. The study included nine women (11 pregnancies) with a history of four or more consecutive RSA with unexplained aetiology and no live births. The mean number of fetal losses was 4.5 (range 4-6 abortions). Over the course of 5 days, immunoglobulin (20 g/day) was infused i.v. at gestational weeks 4-7. No additional infusions were carried out. Two pregnancies out of the 11 conceptions resulted in missed abortions at gestational weeks 6 and 7 respectively. Mosaicism (46XX/ 48XX, +16, +20), and tetraploidy (92XXXX) were found by chromosome analyses of the two aborti. Eight out of the other nine pregnancies resulted in full term deliveries of healthy neonates. One pregnancy developed intrauterine growth retardation and fetal distress, resulting in a premature delivery (30 gestational weeks) by Caesarean section. Thus, excluding the two abortions with chromosome aberrations, the MIVIg treatment was effective in all nine pregnancies of RSA women with unexplained aetiology. This MIVIg treatment (100 g administered in early gestation) may be a beneficial alternative to previous IVIg infusion methods, and should be further evaluated in a multicentric, placebo-controlled study, employing a larger number of homogeneous patients who fall into a high risk category of first trimester abortions

So I’d have to do two rounds of IVIG to get past the first trimester – that is at least 8K AND I would be high risk so would likely go out of network on my insurance – my former OB charges about 600 a visit or all in (likely 15K for the birth). We are talking surrogacy rates just for me to carry never mind the risk of a 45 year old woman carrying one/maybe two babies (with a bit of high blood pressure thrown into the mix). I feel paralyzed. So old grumpy pants (the man I married who is now suddenly wondering if he could handle a baby again after we have arrived at this blissful age of 6 with our child – but….he will do whatever it is that makes me happy and I guarantee you that he will love it if this does work out)..one of my deep desires is to give him a little girl (because even though we have a “daddy’s boy” I don’t think he understands how wonderful the father/daughter bond can be. I digress.

What do I do with all of this? To have two normals would typically mean a hole in one, a slam dunk…at least for most women. But the risk is just too big for me. I just can’t bring myself to make the call or plan the FET when I have so many conflicting emotions. I want them both to be our children – I also want desperately to be the one who gives birth to them but more than anything, I don’t want to let my body fail them and end up having lost them both. I don’t know how I’d pick up those pieces.

Thoughts? I hate this.

Big news…for IVFers and people in general

Remember when I told you all that I was doing a lifestyle upheaval? I wasn’t kidding. About a year ago I went to the doctor. I weighed around 150 pounds. My cholesterol was 184. My triglycerides were 160 a little too high. My thyroid was .9. My vitamin D level was 18. It should have been 30. My blood pressure was an amazing 166/95. I had anxiety, heart palpitations, psoriasis, and a general feeling of malaise.

After going on a whole plant diet in January I went to the doctor. I had been on this diet for two months. We did a test of all of my vitals including blood work. Guess what happened?

First of all my menstrual period came back. Second, my cholesterol lowered from 184 to 134. My weight is now 142 and I am losing by the day. My vitamin D is 29 just a little under 30 :-). My triglycerides went from 160 to 60!!!! My thyroid is at 1.1 which means it is making more thyroid. My psoriasis is virtually gone. Caveat – my psoriasis will come back if I forget to take my vitamin D supplementation of 2000 mg per day. My blood pressure is now 120/80 which is still high for me but once I begin to exercise I predict that will lower as well.

If you are doing IVF or considering doing it I recommend that you read the China study. This has changed my life. I am no longer feeling ill but energized. I can sprint without feeling drained and my body is urging me to go forward not collapse in exhaustion.

I don’t eat a great deal of meat or animal products and only have milk in my tea. I have soy in everything else or almond milk. Reading that milk and animal products are cancer activators has not only made me worry about my diet but change it completely.

I am about to begin preparations for the FET transfer of my two normal embryos. I will give myself two months of solid activity and work my body into shape so that I will have the best possible result. I know that my body can do this if it is fit and I am mentally ready and clear. I hope you will look at my result and consider a plant-based diet. Do not forget that eating meat for animal products is not a bad thing in moderation. I still eat meat infrequently (probably once or twice per week). I prefer to get the amino acids and protein my body needs from beans, legumes and soy/tempeh etc but I am still having the occasional lamb, red meat (did you know that chicken has more cholesterol than red meat??). The China study was a big eye opener for us. My father in law had zero cholesterol problems. Yet his heart and arteries were completely clogged with cholesterol. How can this happen? Eating animal products every single day has serious implications for our health. When you read this book or watch the movie “forks over knives”, “Food Inc”. and all of the other eye opening messages out there you will come to your own conclusions. I hope this post helps someone out there who is considering IVF or just getting healthy in general. My husband likely saved my life and I owe him for making these amazing shakes (filled with kale, spinach, ginger, cranberry, goji berry, oranges, acai and the list goes on!).. I will keep you posted!

I am turning 45 next month. I will be putting a 5AB and a 4BB (chromosomally normal embryos) into my body. This is scary stuff and my last chance. Here comes the kitchen sink.