The “new” me…..is really boring

I’ve begun the clean up of my body. I am losing 1 pound per day and paying quite a price for it. Try drinking 12 ounces of broccoli, kale, spinach, apples, goji berries, acai, beet and maca in the morning (every morning) with the emphasis and bold on the word BROCCOLI. My husband started this kick off to help me with a particular problem (cough*tmi*cough) constipation that can last two weeks. Yes, I know…but it has always been that way. Well today it wasn’t. I am not going to make this a post about my bowels but deal lord, help me. Whatever he gave me went right through and took the two weeks with it (and almost made me faint). Yes, that was a visual you didn’t need.

I’m not drinking, take the occasional anxiety med (lie, more when I am stressed) but am even stopping those. I used to never need them – just having them in my purse was enough to keep away panic attacks but right now I don’t know whether to sit or stand, walk or run. Owning my own business has been a great thing but I literally do the job of four people (sometimes the job of 7 when the cleaning crew don’t show up).

So I’ve started a plan to offload my responsibilities and stop doing everything to let others stand up (or not) – I learned very quickly that if you do everything, people will also learn very quickly that they don’t need to do things because it will magically get done. I guess I had to knock my head against the wall a few times to realize it (but hey, I’ve never been someone’s boss before – well, not officially).

Back to baby things – I put myself on the pill to see if a period would come. Here I go again playing doctor. It is just frustrating not knowing when a period is going to come. Who knew I would hit peri menopause at 44!! I think the gazillion IVFs had something to do with that because my mother had maxi pads hanging around until she was almost 60. Unbelievable. And….Who wants to wear a mattress between your legs? Why do people use them in this day and age (though I will never get over the OB – who wants to use their dirty finger to – oh just gross).

I’ve covered a number of topics today that are likely to gross you out and never read this blog again. If you want to check back in late March or early April (when the topic is FET preparation not my bowels – that is IF they let me do it (another story, I just have to keep my mouth shut).

Lastly, I hope some of you are watching the documentaries and informing yourself about our food – Fork over Knives and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (etc). I wanted to do something about what our family ate a year ago but it really took my husband to get on board for it to happen. I recommend that you adopt some of the ideas and the fertility juice blends when you are cycling or preparing for a FET. It can’t hurt and you will feel better, I promise.

Over and out….

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Stop the presses. That is if I have any readers left.

I’m just terrible with this blog. I started it to get my feelings out while I travel down the lonely road of infertility. I have been waiting and watching as friends have babies, as they give birth, have sibling for their children and I remain stuck. Stuck. Stuck. Time is ticking. My periods have long since gone. Menopause? I’m not sure. I think my body just can’t ovulate. I’ve been under so much pressure and I don’t take good care of myself. I forget to eat. Sometimes I don’t know what day it is. I started a preschool. I might have mentioned that but….it was the hardest thing I ever did but also I have never been happier. I have kids who give me hugs, who love me and the love flows right back. I’ve been so happy lately even though I work very hard and have little time for me. I was sitting in the Inverness Hotel in 2009, reading a book about the importance of education in the first five years of life. I glanced from my 3000 dollars of meds, to the syringe I just used to make my follicles grow, back to the book and then came the idea. A preschool. If I have one child…well, at least I’ll know what he is learning AND I will have dozens of children to love. So I am very happy but also the big fat void remains. The siblings on ice. The would be siblings except, my womb is over it. I can’t get it to grow. I have not tried again but I know. I’ve been friends (randomly) with a woman who has been a surrogate in the past. We started talking and one day I thought….well, why don’t I ask her. To my utter delight she agreed to be my surrogate. I cannot tell you what a dream come true this is for me. She is without a doubt a thoughtful, caring and loving person but get this, she wants to be a part of my child’s life. An Auntie for lack of a better word. That is just the icing on the cake. I would so love to share my child with a sister but sadly I have only a brother. He loves my son but there is nothing like an aunt that just loves you to pieces. I am one of those types of Aunties and, well, I just hope she will love my son as much. Hold on, no baby yet but we are hoping that this is what my embryos need. A womb that is proven to give life unlike mine. I say this without a hint of sadness. The only thing I worry about is that she will somehow be harmed by the process. If both were to take I would worry about her carrying twins, the burden on her and her family. So I may try to see if my uterus will grow enough to have a double transfer of the embryos. The higher quality for her and the lesser quality for me. Schoolcraft suggested that I transfer both to her and told me “why waste one”….as if he knows that I can’t carry another child. I don’t know what to do. I’m torn. We are in the middle of waiting for his approval. So that is the news. I feel happy, worried, stressed…but somewhat relieved that there is a plan and we have the right person on the team. I don’t think there could be a better person to carry my child (ren) than this woman…she really cares and I know would do the right thing. She is ethical, honest, caring, devoted and I think I could learn a thing or two about organization from her. And I love her already. She gave me hope again. For that I owe her so much already…

To be continued!

Just when you thought I’d never post again…

I’ve been avoiding this blog. Mainly because I hate that the tone is so negative and depressing (at least to me). I’ve been spending my time doing just about everything except thinking about IVF or trying to have another child. Just being a mom and well, a whole lot of other things but that is a post for another day (all good stuff).

I’ve been gearing up for the FET (frozen embryo transfer for my non IF friends). That means clearing out all the toxins, getting tested for everything and anything that could impede implantation (immune issues, uterine issues, etc) when suddenly my period stopped arriving. Abruptly. It could be stress, it could be an anovulatory cycle (when you don’t ovulate) but it is annoying because I need to have a period in order to be able to get these test done. So I’ve been taking prometrium 400 mg at night (because it can make you drowsy). I sometimes forget and then have had to take one in the morning (nice to feel drowsy in the morning with a toddler….ahem).

The other night I took my last 2 pills. I normally never eat with them. This was right before dinner…. Friends were visiting to I had a glass of wine with them, ordered some sushi (oh lord, will I ever get to the point), ate the sushi, drank another half glass of wine and the next thing I know I am in an ambulance. Apparently I stopped responding. Sat there with my mouth agape, drooling, staring into space and unable to talk other than nod my head (“yes” to my mother’s question which is “are you in trouble”.).

Once I was in the ambulance I felt fine but groggy. They took some blood, explained that it was most likely a reaction between the progesterone and the wine and sent me hope. Of course I couldn’t let it rest.

I spent all of yesterday trying to find anyone who had experience the same thing that I did and lo and behold I found this:

http://www.askapatient.com/viewrating.asp?drug=19781&name=PROMETRIUM&sort=satisfaction&order=1

Five posts with women who were hospitalized with stroke like symptoms and a slew of others who had “lost time”, “lost memory” among other things.

I’ve been on this drug for five years (off on and on when I am cycling) and had a few bouts of words slurring but never something like this.

So that will be the last time I take oral prometrium (progesterone). Shots in the butt for me – never had an issue with progesterone in oil which absorbs differently.

Now I have to explain this to my new neighbors. Apparently I was screaming my head off as I was carted to the ambulance which I do not remember. I can imagine it now “oh HI there new neighbor, can I have a seat because this is a long ass story”.

It is sorta funny but it isn’t…..it scared me shitless.

Back…IVF #9 with CGH Microarray (part 2)

Sorry for leaving some of you hanging. I had to take a break for a number of reasons.

We got our CGH Microarray results back from the 8 embryos we had on ice (from CCRM and the clinic I go to in NYC – I did IVF #8 there in June which I will update on later – had those four sent out to join the other CCRM four an all were tested) ……..and we have one normal embryo – in fact, it was our only blastocyst and it was a day 6 blastocyst which is a bit behind. The other 7 were massively abnormal, poor things. So, I decided to try another cycle locally to hopefully get a few more embryos to ship out to CCRM and then do another cycle in February….but that was a complete disaster. Microdose lupron, measurable follicle on day 2!!! I stimmed for 6 days and then triggered and converted to an IUI. BFN. No surprise there.

I went on birth control pills right after since I had developed massive cysts….and then decided it was time to go back to CCRM. I’m approaching 42 and I don’t have the luxury of time on my side. I have a good chance with one CGH normal (60%) but I want a GREAT chance which only 2 normal embryos will give me (70 %). Selfish, I know.

For this cycle we did things very differently – I started saizen (human growth hormone) and microdose lupron for two days and then started 300 gonal F and 2 amps of menopur combined with dexamethazone. What a response – the stim was rather fast – 9 days total or so and I produced 11 eggs – 8 of which were mature and fertilized normally. I was shocked as I never respond like this – my very best cycle to date and I think I credit the saizen…. Day 3 and all of them were right on target with one over achiever at 12 cells. Yesterday on day 5 they called to say that they had 3 early blasts and 3 great looking morulas. Somehow between last night and today most of them arrested and I am now left with a grade 5AA blast and a 3AB blast to biopsy. So down to 2. Beats the one I had last time which was thankfully normal.

I don’t know whether to be happy or gear up for IVF #10. I guess I’ll wait for the results (probably by mid Jan) and maybe go back on the pill to suppress all the crazy things my ovaries do after an IVF.

On the emotional front, I’m not feeling so great. Not sure how I am going to be able to handle it if this doesn’t work. I began looking at donor eggs and found one woman whose baby photo looked just like me. But I don’t know if I can do that. I always told myself that it wouldn’t matter – and deep in my heart I know it wouldn’t but I will move heaven and earth to make this happen with my own eggs. I only wish I had found CCRM when I was 40 and not 41.

So there is my update and now we wait…….

All day testing

I’m in Colorado – just finished all day testing at CCRM. I’ve come away with a huge spiral notebook of things to read, a stack of orders for bloodwork that must be completed, an enormous headache caused, no doubt, by their no caffeine policy, a sore and (sorry TMI alert) bleeding uterus from having a foot long thread inserted into it….and hope, I have hope! I love this place. Never have I seen an operation like it (and I’ve been around). They are indeed everything I thought they would be. Dr. Schoolcraft is a nice guy – I liked him enormously. His nurse Kathy was amazing – spend literally hours talking me through the entire process. They run a tight ship – no waiting around – everything spelled out, scheduled, organized. Wow.

Guess what I found out today? After 6 IVFs and God knows how many times someone has looked into my uterus – Dr. Schoolcraft found scar tissue from a previous D&C – most likely when I was 31 years old and had a blighted ovum. All this time and no one ever said a word about it. Lest you think this might be the result of my last D&C – that is highly unlikely as my RE did suction only. Dr. Schoolcraft suggested that any embryo trying to inplant in this area of my uterus would struggle. I’ll be getting surgery to remove the scar tissue soon – probably back in Atlanta. He also agreed that microarray (genetic testing on the embryo) would be my best shot. He figures that I have an 80% probability of finding a normal embryo….so we are doing it. Forget the IUI – I’m going to wait for my next period (most likely February 27) and then resume estrogen patches 15 days later. I’ll get a period in late March and an egg retrieval around April 8-10th (approximate). There will be other decisions once we know how many eggs we get – but for now we are planning to flash freeze them either at day 3 or day 5. I’ll do a frozen embryo transfer a few months later and then hope, hope, hope.

The bad news is that I had 8 resting follicles (these are the follicles that show up in your ovaries at the beginning of your cycle and serve as a predictor of how many eggs will be retrieved) – this is down from 15 in August. You see – just a few months at the age of 40 can send you off a cliff. Who knows how many I’ll have next month – could go back up but unlikely. Dr. Schoolcraft said that a resting follicle count of 8 will likely correspond plus or minus 2 to my results at retrieval. If I had 10 eggs…mature and fertilized – I’d be the happiest girl in the world. I’m not sure that resting follicles are that predictive in everyone – but they have been for me.

I’m not going to think about the cost – I have a loan for the entire amount ready and waiting for me to access it. This is far more important than anything in our lives right now so its cost is irrelevant for me. One thing that was repeated over and over again – “your eggs are 40 years old”. I get it….time is literally running out. I don’t have a year to make more mistakes – I have months…

I’ll post more later – for now a much needed massage is waiting.

IVF #4

While I wait to pee on a stick…perhaps now is a good time to tell you about failures 4, 5 and 6!  Because I cannot wait to spread the cheer!

IVF #4 started in late April – just after my 40th birthday.  About a year previous, when I was 9 months post partum, our RE recommended that we begin IVF asap.  We were in the middle of a move to another city (Atlanta) and the timing was not great.  We did a number of tests to ensure that my FSH was still low (and indicator or ovarian reserve) and was told that the number was around 7.  My highest reading to date by then had been 5 but anything under 10 is considered normal.  We figured a few more months wouldn’t hurt and we’d definitely need time to get settled in our new town before adding another pregnancy/child.  Nevermind the fact that we added a labrador retriever puppy to the mix – (I had no idea that a dog could be more work than a baby but I, um, know that now!)

We agreed in April to begin treatments with an RE in Atlanta who formerly practiced at Cornell (the number 2 clinic in the nation).  Dr. S is a nice guy – young, matter of fact.  He changed around my meds – which, in hindsight, I should have questioned.  So much of this process is a crap shoot and the medication protocol is by far the most important factor, in my opinion.  We went from a tried and true protocol to the crash and burn protocol.  I had 13 follicles with 5 eggs in them.  Of those 5 eggs, only 3 of them fertilized.  We put all of them back in on day 2.  Normally IVFers will put the embryos back in the uterus on day 3 – and if they are growing well and there is a large enough quantity of embryos – waiting until day 5 (blastocyst cycle).  Our RE called us the day after our fertilization report on Day 1 and said that based on the look of the embryos, he wanted to get them in sooner rather than later.  This concerned me.

On the day of embryo transfer I was given a percoset and told to arrive with a full bladder.  I was very excited when I entered the room where they tranfer the embryos to see a large digital photo of our three embryos.  They all looked good to me – even number of cells, little fragmentation – they looked perfect, in fact.  When I quizzed the embryologist he told me that “it doesn’t get better than this”.  The embryos were transferred and I went home to rest.  My mother was visiting and helped a great deal with my son – I was instructed not to pick him up for 2 weeks which is almost an impossible feat.  I was convinced that the cycle did not work – no symptoms other than feeling extremely exhausted (but that was likely the cause of the massive amounts of progesterone I was injecting into my body).  Around 9 days past ovulation I was eating a salad.  I took a bite of onion and suddenly felt the urge to vomit, I was cold and clammy and nearly fainted.  C looked at me wide eyed and said, “well, this is a good sign”.  He was right – the next day I took a test and it was positive.  Suddenly I started to feel every symptom – I was tired, cranky, blue veins all over my breasts, crazy dreams, hot flashes….  The next day every symptom was gone.  I rushed in to the doctor’s office for an early blood test.  Two hours later I got a call telling me that my beta level was 50.  I was definitely pregnant.  Exactly (and I do not exaggerate) 30 seconds later I started to bleed…and I mean bleed.

30 seconds of happiness and hope!  That was all this cycle could give me.  The next few days I spent in bed, hoping that the bleeding would stop.  I had another blood test a day later and…the level of HCG was going down.  A chemical pregnancy.  Something implanted and then died.  Probably a chromosomal abnormality – who knows.

I was going to jump right back into another cycle but this chemical hung around – for a month!  The levels would not go down.  Just when my RE was going to schedule a D&C – the levels started to drop.

And that, my friends, was that.

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.