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….

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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. ;)

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.

Preparing for pregnancy and a smoothie for fertility (not my recipe)

Here is what I am doing for the next three months (combined with yoga, meditation and exercise – walking mainly and weight training) as I prepare for a March FET at CCRM.

•    Taking a baby aspirin (low dose and coated)
•    Relaxing/mediation – going to a “healer” who also adjusts you as you lay there for up to three hours if you want – miracle find and so relaxing (only in ATL)
•    Acupuncture targeted at increasing fertility. I am going local and then heading to Dr. Wu in NYC (he is the best, well IMHO).  I am certain implantation occurred because of him last time…

Perhaps add in L arginine during the cycle (not before) to help with lining issues, doubling up on my vitamin D (everyone is low and it is a huge issue – forget calcium this is why we have such a huge problem with osteoporosis…)  On to the smoothie:
•    And last but not least, drinking Lori Bregman’s fertility smoothie everyday!
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Lori Bregman’s Fertility Smoothie

Ingredients (links are to Lori’s favorite products):
•    frozen mixed organic berries
•    almond or rice milk
•    protein powder (something natural and clean, without a lot of additives or soy)
•    2 shots of wheatgrass (I use a frozen one by Evergreen, but you can use powder or fresh shots instead)
•    maca root powder
•    acai berry 
•    mixed powered greens
•    royal jelly (*Do not use if you have a bee allergy)
•    bee pollen (*Do not use if you have a bee allergy)
•    liquid omegas

Instructions:
Read dose/serving information on back of each product. Mix everything together in a blender. Use more or less milk to achieve a desired consistency.

What it all Does: 
•    Powdered Greens, berries and acai: Feed and promote healthy cell growth and help nourish the blood.
•    Wheat grass: Lowers FSH levels, nourishes cells, helps restore hormone balance, and helps alkaline your PH levels, which makes it better for sperm to live in.
•    Maca root: Nourishes the entire endocrine system, enhances fertility and brings hormones into balance. Also increases sex drive, vitality and gives you tons of energy.
•    Royal jelly: Balances hormones, supports the endocrine system, helps raise estrogen levels in women, and helps increase sperm quality and testosterone levels in men.
•    Bee pollen: Contains high levels of vitamins, acts as a natural aphrodisiac, nourishes the ovaries, increases fertility, regulates the menstrual cycle and helps produce healthy eggs in women, and increases sperm count in men.
•    Protein powder: Repairs and builds healthy tissues.
•    Liquid omegas: Helps stabilize your moods, lowers inflammation in the body, increases blood flow to the uterus, regulates the menstrual cycle, ovulation, and cervical mucus in women, and increases sperm mobility in men.

If anyone has other ideas for FET prep or pregnancy prep for all ages or specific doctors, make a comment to help others…

2013 is going to be the year….we are in waiting mode

My posting has been erratic at best, I apologize.  There is only so much you can say about having nothing to say….but now I do.  I’m gearing up for a transfer and I need help.  Your help.  YOURS?  Yes, yours.  I am at my wits end about how many to transfer.  I’m terrified of two things – getting pregnant with twins and not getting pregnant at all.  My history with Alex included preterm labor but I had a lot of stress around the time it all went down (husband lost job).  I now have FIVE GAZILLION amounts more stress (own a preschool – hello!?!).  I literally have children that I look after and over all day long and I fret.  I am a little “type A” as my husband says.  Ya think?  These kids are someone’s entire life and you better believe that a boo boo or bite or whatever happens in the course of the day is something I’m involved with – I also love being around them which isn’t great since I’m CMV negative (that is for another day).  But I’m going to be 45 and with two CGH normals – one 5AB and the other 4BB – I have a good chance of both implanting.  I think my son was a lower quality embryo and developed slower but the 5AB is a great shot and it is a girl and the 4BB a boy.  I also worry that if one works then how can I go back for the other?  I’ll be 50  by the time my body recovers and I just can’t do that – already 45 feels a bit old to be doing this.  Anyway, I am going to do it.  My DH and I have been having stress arguments. It is normal, I know but not helpful.  He seems to think I should just put them both back in but doesn’t understand that means I will be laying around for 9 months (not running a preschool).  Oi vey.

So how many?  My gut says do an ESET with the higher quality first (the girl) and then if life is so kind as to give us the means to afford a surrogate, we go for the 4BB a year after she is born.  That feels weird and freaky to say so let’s just hope I didn’t jinx myself.  

I’ve always thought I’d have three kids and well, who knows.  I just hope it works.  Something about finally doing it is making me a little unhinged.  It feels so final and what if it does not work?  I have no plan B.

So what do you think, internets?  Should I transfer both?  I did carry to full term even if I was 4cm dilated for about 5 months.  

I am also concerned that the CGH process is going to hurt them – and I’m concerned about my age – although my OBGYN told met hat if I get pregnant it is the same odd as a younger person because a muscle is a muscle and mine has proven to work once.  Whatever the heck that meant, to be honest.  Muscles fail too, you old goat.  MUST.ONLY.SEE.A.WOMAN.GYNO.

Oh and I recently had a huge scare with a lump – that was handled poorly and made me nearly jump off the bridge.  Thankfully it is all normal – so far.  

Lastly, I have an UP band which is an annoying little wrist bandt hat tells you how much sleep, what you are eating and how deep you sleep, etc.  It basically is ruling my world right now. I’ve lost a few pounds since its arrival on Christmas so I guess I like it.  Actually, for what it is going to help me do (have a baby, I hope) it is a fantastic thing and great motivation.  It even buzzes me if I don’t do anything for over 10 minutes.  I guess that is the definition of lazy – not moving your hand for 10 minutes.  Right.

Over to you – help!!!!  I’m looking at a mid March transfer if I can get grumpy husband to agree to all the malarky involved (the trip out, the blood and the cost).  It has to be done and hell, I’m doing all the work.  Decisions.

Happy New Year, Readers.  I promise to be a little more interesting in 2013.  This has been a weird year.  Next year I’m going to rock and roll and i hope you do to (whatever that means to you).  Now off to make an appt in my calendar to schedule an appt with Schoolcraft.  That might take a minute or two (or a week or two).  Onward and upward!

Being Thankful….for infertility?

Strange post. I never thought I’d even think that I’d be “thankful” for the things that have happened in the past 7 years but, I am. I’ve lost boat loads of money, injected myself with more hormones than should be medically allowed and well, the losses. Recently a mother in my school dropped off her child. She was very tearful. I told her “don’t worry, he will be fine!” and indeed he was but she was not. Her tears reminded me of the terror of sitting with an ultrasound probe inside me waiting to see if there was a heartbeat for the small bunch of cells growing inside me). She looked confused, dazed, and frankly, like she was about to be ill. She had another older child with her who, of course, was headed to another school in which she had already enrolled. As she left I wondered about her. Her husband showed up an hour later and came into my office. He said, “I want you to know that my wife and lost a child at 6 months to SIDS and dropping off our child today was a huge leap for her”. Suddenly it all made sense. I held back the tears until left and then just let myself take in their grief. That night I held my boy just a little bit closer and…I watched over her child during their time at my school always making sure he was safe (as I do, neurotically, will all of the children in my care). When they left to move back to their hometown I made a point of speaking to her and acknowledging her bravery and telling her that I understood (to a degree) and hoped that time would heal. I don’t know how you get over things like that – well, I guess I do. You just live.

I’m on one of the first holidays I have had in four years and, watching my son interact with his cousins, being so happy and relaxed has made me realize that I would never be the mother that I am had I not gone through all of the aforementioned. I also realize that mine was a happy ending and many people don’t get a baby in their arms at the end. For those people, I hope they find peace and I also hope they don’t give up on the other options. I just so wish I had a way to make every childless mother a mother and childless father a father. I also wish I had the power to make someone understand the amount of grief that goes along with all of this and what it does to you as a person….well, if you let it. There comes a point where you have done everything that you can possibly do and you must choose whether or not you let infertility define you, overwhelm you and take over your life. I made that choice, obviously, when I opened a preschool. I literally fall in love with each child and treat them as if they were mine throughout the day. Being new at this (3 years) I have had far many more hellos than I have had goodbyes but…the 18 goodbyes have hurt. Some of these parents have no idea how much of a bond we form with their children and then poof – they are in kindergarten. I think going this route has been far more rewarding than I could ever imagined but there is always loss….

Could I be more meandering?

Today I’m thankful for the wisdom I have received by going through such difficulty in having my child. Had it been easy, I don’t know if I would have had as much patience, as much appreciation as I do for my child.

I hope that everyone reading this has success….I hope you never let what has happened to you define you permanently and that you will one day have your much wanted child in your arms or find peace should that not be your result. I’m not in the game of pain olympics – we all have our life challenges no matter our path – be it cancer, a sick parent, the death of an animal. So much loss.

Today I’m thankful for this very moment.

Happy Thanksgiving!