Happy Halloween!

My ovaries are absolutely killing me.

Tomorrow more blood work, ultrasound and then trigger tomorrow evening.

I’m completely fed up with needles, drugs, headaches, mood swings, swollen ovaries, being poked and prodded with the dildocam and seemingly flushing money down the toilet – right now I am just a damn medical experiment and the worst thing – I am my own creation!!

I guess it is either this or settle for one child because getting C to adopt or donor egg is going to be a battle that I don’t think I want to wage.

But I do try to finish my day by hoping for something – today I will hope that nobody eggs my house and that I don’t stuff my face with reeces peanut butter cups.  There.

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Update…follicular activity and C’s sperm

We now have approximately 5/6 follicles in the running..with a few more lagging behind.  This is fairly shocking news for me – this is the same kind of response I have gotten on max stims.  There is a theory out there (Dr. Schoolcraft in case you are wondering) that says more medication makes poor egg quality in older women.  I am doing this IUI instead of an IVF to determine how my body would respond on fewer med dosages and so far we are seeing that perhaps I don’t need all that extra medication..and maybe even the high dosages have been hurting my eggs.  I don’t have a great deal of faith in my husband’s sperm, however so this was always going to be an experiment.  However!  His sperm quality has dramatically improved (to the point where he is now considered a normal, fertile male rather than sub fertile).  He has huge volume, motility and 14% normal forms (up from 5% a few years ago).  Poor C will look forward to the day when he is allowed to sit in a bath again.

Looks like I am triggering on Saturday night…

I tried to vote today in Georgia but the line was about five hours long…and so I will wake at the crack of dawn on Tuesday and cast my vote for the only candidate in my lifetime that could inspire such action.

Up very soon – IVF #4, 5 and 6…..

Decisions….and update on IUI with injectibles #1

So…I’ve now interviewed all three of the major reproductive endocrinology clinics in Atlanta (except one whose stats are sub par).

Clinic A is my current RE in Atlanta.  I like my doctor and I like the staff…but the rate of fertilization of our eggs with ICSI scares me.  This could be the fault of the doctor for letting my eggs grow too large, or it could be that my eggs are bad quality or it could be that the lab is bad.  A friend of mine recently cycled there and had 50% fertilization.  So it isn’t just me.  This is a concern.

Clinic B seems a little disheveled.  The doctor listened to me, she was nice but I definitely led the conversation – recommended which drugs and she largely agreed with me.  I don’t know about you – but I am not a doctor.  I know a hell of a lot about this process and certainly how my body responds to certain meds but…I’m looking for someone to lead me – not follow my lead. They do, however, have one of the pioneers of ICSI as their head of embryology so if fertilization is my aim…this is a serious consideration.

Clinic C was warm and fuzzy – brand new offices looked more like I was walking into Goldman Sachs than a fertility clinic.  The doctor, also a female, was such a nice, caring person.  The clinic’s pregnancy rates for my age are around 40% a cycle which is quite high – but she puts my chances around 25-30% based on my recent failures.  She recommends that I try two more cycles with my own eggs and then go on to donor egg…which was a little shocking, to be honest.  Donor egg chat already!

So I have decisions to make and I am completely torn for many different reasons.

My current cycle is looking OK – actually I’m please that there are 3 follicles with about 2 or 3 lagging behind.  I’m going to trigger tomorrow night (inject the HCG) and C’s sperm will injected into my uterus on Sunday and on Monday.  I have already scheduled the surgery for removal of the polyp in my uterus for late November…so that might tell you what I am thinking about this cycle.  If it worked, well, it would be great but I just seriously don’t think it will.

I’m giving it my best shot!

And the news just gets better and better..

I met with a new RE here in Atlanta and really, really liked her.  She was warm, compassionate and realistic and I’ve never had a female RE before.  I just feel like it is the right thing to do.  She is advocating a change in my protocol and says that I should try no more than two cycles and then consider going straight to donor egg.  This was a bit of a shocker for me but as she rightly pointed out – I’ve got about a 25 – 30% chance per cycle for a pregnancy that will go to full term.  Not great odds at all.  Donor egg is something C and I have talked about and I am all for it (I am pretty sure) but he is still on the fence.

Infertility

Infertility has been a gift to me.  Infertility has also been the hardest, most soul wrenching thing I’ve ever gone through.  If you have never gone through this, let me tell you – it will test every limit, magnify every doubt and try to crush your spirit.  I belong to an internet message board devoted to IVF and let me tell you – those women have been through it.  I’ve read story after story of the kind of suffering that is unimaginable…and to get something that comes so easy for most of us – to have a child.  I’m inspired on a daily basis by these women and I know, relative to some, I didn’t suffer that much.  It took me 3 cycles to get a child and some have been trying for years and years.  Posting there requires sensitivity…and in fact, just mentioning the word pregnancy or referring to your child needs to be well thought out.

Back to the present…

Two weeks ago I failed IVF #6.  It was a bit of a surprise for me but I’ll save that for another post.  Today I am day 8 of an IUI cycle (intrauterine insemination).  Normally I take a very high level of medication to stimulate my ovaries.  I’ve never been on any other protocol…so this time I decided to ask my RE to lower my dosage in half to see how I might respond.  So far it hasn’t been that bad.  I’m on stim day 6 (have not taken the meds yet) and I have four measurable follicles.  In fact, I’m quite pleased with this result.  At the end of this cycle (Friday or Saturday) I’ll get a trigger shot and C’s sperm will be injected – two times, a few hours before I ovulate and then again the next day.  Given our low rate of fertilization I don’t have high hopes but…you never know!  It is all about hope and I’m trying to muster some up.  In the meantime I am interviewing every IVF clinic in the Atlanta area.  So far I’ve learned one thing – I’m my own advocate.  Seems like the more you know the more you realize that this is just a crap shoot…you need to be on the right protocol of medications, have your body respond to those medications, have the Gods of fertilization on your side, a good thick lining and an normal embryo to implant in your uterus and continue to grow.  It really does surprise me, given all the factors involved, that pregnancy ever happens at all…and yet most of the world doesn’t need all this – they just have sex.  Remarkable!

If this cycle doesn’t work I’ll be having surgery in December to remove a polyp in my uterus..and then beginning IVF again in January.

January 22, 2007

On this morning I got up, showered, waddled about the apartment packing my bag to take to Lenox Hill Hosptal, charged up my blackberry, made a small video…and left in a cab with C to go uptown for my 8:30 amnio. The procedure wasn’t that bad – it hurt for a second and then it was over. I was 38 weeks and 2 days – had I waited another three days I could have been induced without an amnio but, after all those weeks of bedrest, I was ready. The heartburn was killing me and the kicks were becoming unbearable. It was time to give my little tenant an eviction notice.

C and I left the hospital to await the report on the maturity of the lungs and headed to a burger joint nearby where we stuffed our faces. I knew that I might not eat again for a very long time so…..I chowed down. By this time I was weighing in at 180lbs….a full 50 pound heavier than my ideal weight – not comfortable at all.

We checked in to our labor and delivery room around 12pm…and at 2:30 the doctor ordered a pitocin drip to get things going. I had been 4cm dilated for weeks so was hoping this would be easy and that I would deliver quickly and painlessly. I had planned to try to give birth without an epidural. Frankly the idea of a needle in my spine was gripping me with fear. When I told my doctor that I planned to try without pain medication she laughed at me. “I have 10 patients out of 100 who do not use pain meds and believe me, you are not one of them”. I was offended at the time by her comments and determined to prove her wrong. When my OB walked in to check on me at 7pm I had progressed only only one centimeter. She turned up the dial on the pitocin and broke my water. “I’ll be back after dinner – you won’t deliver before midnight”. Immediately after she left I started to feel very intense feelings – they were contractions and it felt similar to a leg cramp (the kind that wakes you at 4am out of a deep sleep) only in my uterus. I had the anesthesiologist in the room about five minutes early but had sent him away. Now I was desperate. I called the nurse and begged her to find the anesthesiologist. I tried to walk around and breathe through the pain but i couldn’t – it was overwhelming. When the anesthesiologist showed up I willingly leaned over and let him put a needle in my spine. I felt relief almost immediately and professed my love for him. Now I was able to relax, watch some television and feel a bit peaceful. C was with me, helping me calm down. His parents were visiting from England and had stopped by to check on us. They left for dinner and a few minutes later I began feeling pressure…in my rectum. It was if I needed to take a bowel movement – all in the butt and it hurt. It wasn’t supposed to feel like this when you have an epidural – right? I called the nurse and she decided that I needed an internal. It was only 9:00pm so I told the nurse that I wanted to wait for my OB to return. I’d read stories about infection and did not want to have any internals unless it was absolutely necessary. By 9:15 I couldn’t take it anymore. The resident on duty performed an internal and found that I was ready to push – 10 centimeters dilated. When my OB arrived we began. I was pushing, and pushing and pushing when I saw my OB glance at the attending nurse. Something was wrong. The baby’s heartbeat was dipping dangerously. I was in a LOT of pain. I was given oxygen and a neonatal nurse was called. “Push as hard as you can” she told me….and push I did. “How tall are you” she asked – “5.4′ was my answer. “well you push like you are 5 feet nine inches tall – you need to stop right now because you are about to blow your labia in half”. I stopped to let her perform an episiotomy…one that required about 30 stitches to mend…

Two hard pushes later and they could see the head. My husband was watching our baby crown – and getting a bit choked up. Push, they all yelled….and then C yelled, “push!”…and I told him to shut the F up. Poor guy – I was at the end of my rope…when suddenly he was out. Alex was born at 10:31pm on the evening of January 22, 2007 at Lenox Hill hospital in NYC. At that moment I was in a daze…and quite frankly afraid to meet him. I felt shy! They put him into my arms and we gave each other a look like…”oh it is you…you are the one I’ve been kicking/you are the one who has been kicking – you are the only I’ve loved all this time”. It was so emotionally overwhelming. They took him off to be cleaned and weighed. His heart rate had been dropping because he had his hand on his face the entire time – which was also the cause of my back labor.

Immediately after giving birth they asked me to get up and walk around. I started to move but felt very ill. They would not let me move to my room until I could walk there myself but that seemed impossible. As soon as I stood up I fainted and fell to the ground. Needless to say they wheeled me to my room…where i waited until 4am for the return of my baby boy. I couldn’t sleep – I just wanted to hold him and kiss him and stare at him – which I did. Once I did get some sleep I was rudely awoken several times by nurses who needed to massage my uterus (the thought of it still makes me sick) and apply huge ice compresses to my …ugh what do you call it….vaginal area?

None of that mattered – our son was here and I’ve never felt more happy in my life. It took us 25 embryos, 3 IVFs, 2 clomid cycles and about 75 thousand dollars out of pocket but all of it was worth it. Every single tear, every minute of feeling terrified, all the pain and suffering was worth it… Nothing even compares.