It has been a loooong time…..

I feel quite guilty. I left you all hanging….well, most of you who read this probably don’t know me.  You found me while searching for a solution to a problem that I’ve described or gone through – and that is why this old blog is still running.  I’m 50 now and I still have two embryos in the freezer. One boy. One girl.  Both with all their chromosomes and a reluctant mother to be….it is so complicated. We have decided to decide what to do with our embryos this year.  That means either I carry or find a surrogate.  The whole topic makes me nervous so I’ll just change it, shall we?

 

I’m writing about two of my friends who could not get pregnant. Everything failed them.  They had dozens of normals yet they kept on miscarrying.  One went to my RE in Colorado – the great Dr. Schoolcraft and the other to a doctor in LA (she just had twins at 49 so imagine the pressure that gave me!).

Both could get pregnant but not stay that way.

The first one was 42 – she still produced normals but she kept miscarrying. She tried donor egg and still, miscarriage. I urged her to do the one test that she hadn’t done (and boy do they kick those tires at CCRM) – beta integrin.  After transferring all her normals she found out that she lacked the protein. She went through the three month lupron depot hell on earth and then got pregnant with donor egg.  She is happy…but regrets not having this test done as she did want to be biologically related to her child if possible but, as we all know, any child who calls you mom is yours entirely. Genetics be damned!

The next woman was in her mid 40s. She and her husband had tried for ages. They were fairly chipper at the start but then the failures started to wear her down.  She wanted so badly to have a child and they went straight to donor egg.  She tried LIT therapy (I recommended IVIG but she said she didn’t like the risks).  She then got the beta integrin test and it too came up negative. She went through the lupron hell and then added in IVIG and voila – twin girls.

I’m writing because you have to kick those tires. You have to think out of the box and if you need help, I’m here. I don’t know everything but I’ve been around the block a few times and if this isn’t your first rodeo and I’m your last hope – email me.  You can find me at suzanneesmith@yahoo.com.

I know how hard this is and I care.  You owe it to yourself to kick every tire and don’t listen to the doctors if you feel in your heart that they are wrong. I most certainly did not listen and I have my prepubescent tween boy who still sleeps next to mommy on occasion and never goes more than a day without telling me “have I told you how much I absolutely love you?”…..the answer is always the same – “yes, and I love you more”.

Keep fighting, keep trying and don’t stop until you’ve truly had enough.  That was not a Michael Jackson lyric.

Much love to all of you mothers who still have no child to hold. One day you will…somehow but not if you give up.

Next blog post is going to be about a foster care experience.  Heartbreaking. But oh my how it has changed my life.

See you soon….very soon.

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.

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….

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!

Just when you thought nothing could surprise you…

I’ve been debating posting what I have on my mind. I’ve really thought long and hard about it (yes, I’ll get to it but there is a back story so indulge, please and thank you). I’ve had a pretty horrible few years months. I’ve not told anyone about all of the things bothering me. In fact, I’ve kept almost everything to myself for so long that I’ve become used to it. This blog is about as close as I get to spilling my guts about what is really bothering me and most of you have no idea who I am (er, I suppose).

Let me backtrack…

I went to visit my husband’s family for three weeks in June. It was the first real holiday I’ve had in three years and I REALLY needed it.   This has been a challenging year for many reasons not just waiting for the doctor to approve my chosen surrogate.   I was hoping to relax, recharge and hopefully come back to the great news that Dr. Schoolcraft had approved my surrogate after the “difficult cases” meeting and that our journey could begin. I was rather sure AND as my husband said after reading the pleading letter to the good doctor “there is no way he won’t be moved by that” or something of that nature.  I had pretty much secured the loan from our credit union for most of the costs, I was set. The IS (intended surrogate) was getting a little tired of waiting and I didn’t blame her. But knew that it would crush me and ruin my one chance to rest after a hard few years.  I didn’t think three weeks would make much of a difference and knew that a calmer me would make me able to deal with whatever the decision was with a clearer head.    So I went to the UK blissfully unaware that meetings had been had in Colorado and fates had been sealed. Who knows, they hadn’t called me back despite a few phone calls and emails so I assume that is what was going on. I certainly was not going to have  another hundred or so dollars to talk to him again (plus the 8 dollar phone call charge – love that touch).   I try not to think of the money we’ve spent so far and the phone calls….which have been about 2 minutes long.  What is the hourly rate for that?  A million dollars an hour?

I digress.

So I went to the UK and had a fantastically craptastic time thanks to some work drama.  The highlight was going to Paris for the night, eating a chocolate ice cream cone and working off the calories (and almost dying of heart failure) trying to keep up with my 5 year old ball of energy who literally ran up the Eiffel tower to the first level.  Let me say that the Eiffel Tower is a big deal at my school.  We talk about it a lot.  We draw pictures of the steeple at our school (we reside in a church) and the kids love imagining it with all the lights on it at night.  I have little replicas that they love to hold.  My son was a ROCKSTAR at school for going up the Eiffel Tower so it was worth it….even if I cried all the way down and back on the Eurostar….imagining horrible things that never happened, arguing with my husband over almost everything and nothing and missing my friend who died last year.  You know, the one person you have in your life that you can call and talk to for a few hours and you both walk away from the call having unloaded and feeling like you connected with another person who gets it?  He was that person for me.  I know I’m all  over the place but I just needed him at that moment and well, now….and I don’t have him or anything like him anymore.    Enough with the pity party.  I’ll be fine, I just get sad sometimes and talk to the air imagining he is here and listening (minus his incredibly catty stories about people we know from high school and who is now gay and who is divorcing and….you know, a little harmless gossip with an old friend).   He was gay, for the record and when he died we hadn’t talked because I was so busy, I didn’t return his few calls.  Not because I didn’t care, I was too busy working to save my family.  Another blog post… another regret.

God help me I will get to the point.

So I get back to the US and solve a few of my pending problems, get the news from CCRM, digest it. tell the surrogate via FB (because I could not speak I was so upset)…  A few weeks go by and I’m thinking about how perhaps I could try one transfer with me and then move the other embryo to a clinic (my husband’s wishes) and transfer to her.

Then Aurora happens and I immediately look to see if she is OK (on FB – she lives in that vicinity) and she is gone.  Poof.  She blocked me.  She erased me from her life.  My husband was very relieved that we didn’t proceed further with someone who clearly didn’t see us as anything more than dollar signs…I took it a bit harder..  I felt like I’d been punched in the gut.  The idea of someone carrying a child for me wasn’t easy.  I had pangs and yearnings and questions but I made peace with it because of her.  I also felt a connection to her and knew she would care for my children (if they do turn into children but with a normal CGH embryo made a few years ago, you have a good chance in the right womb).

The person that I almost let carry my children blocked me on facebook.  Just.Like.THAT.

If that isn’t a kick in the pants, I don’t know what is.  All I can say is I hope she isn’t following me.  Fool me once and I get the picture.  I’ve now learned that life is not only about choices but also how you react to the choices of others.

I just keep on thinking…what if she had my children living inside of her and blocked me.  What if, what if, what if.

Maybe I have a guardian angel.  I don’t know.

Let me leave you with the good news – my period is back again.  Heavy too.  I think I am going to build a lining, folks.  I think I’m going to do this myself.  Soon.  44 and pregnant.  Think I’d get a reality TV show?  Good LORD, my friends from high school are having grandchildren now.

Enough counting chickens.

The End of Post 125

Blogging

No word from CCRM. I’m going to chalk it up to the holiday. Next week I need final resolution. I’m over it…and I suspect you are too (especially my intended surrogate). I have about 200 – 300 readers every time I post and I’m still mystified. Who the heck are you people? 🙂

Getting back to CCRM and all things related – no period this month. Hmmm. Guess it was a one off thing?

So, the embryos that I have are it. Last chance and I am OK with that. What I am not OK with is the fact that I have a unbelievable amount of medication (gonal F mainly) that I would love to donate. I have enough for a regular person to cycle (I used to take the motherlode of meds and, to be honest, I don’t think it made one iota of difference – I made the same number of eggs no matter the amount of medication).

So if you are ready to cycle and meds are holding you back – please email me (comment and I’ll get back to you). I don’t think donation is illegal and if I can help someone, I’d like to. I have all my gonal f and such in powder so the expiration date is nebulous but soon. If I can help someone out there it would make me very happy.

I’m encouraging my husband to start a blog. I think he is rather funny but then again, I have to. I’ll let you know his blog name. Suggestions welcome – he is British, didn’t go nuts over the fireworks last night (while our wee boy sat there waving his flag shouting “yeah to American”. We’ll forget his usage of the English language (not required in the south).

Thanks for reading and I hope soon that we will have something to say. Something serious….

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!

Tomorrow

I’m all set for tomorrow – physically anyway. I’ve filled my script for percoset, antibiotics and pherengan (which is spelled wrong and I can’t be assed to look it up). The last drug is an anti-nausea anal suppository which I will not be using. Wanna know why? Because the last time I used it (when I was in the hospital for preterm labor) I vomited! I have the Always maxi pads (with WINGS!!) and 10 xanax. I have not used maxi pads since I was 15. Cannot wait!

We go in at 10:15 to give blood – pre op and karotype on both me and my husband. The procedure is scheduled for 12pm. I’ll probably get hooked up to an IV with fluids and that is when I’ll beg for the valium. They will give it to me – nobody wants to deny psychological pain relief to a woman who has just had a pregnancy loss.

So, I’ve been loading up on oral progesterone – to the point where I am walking around feeling high as a kite – kinda like I took 10 valium. So far I’ve had only a few cramping episodes but I’m all too aware that my body is trying to rid itself of its inhabitant. I’ve been waking up every morning and having to remind myself that something has changed – that I’m not pregnant anymore. It reminds me of the times when I have lost my grandparents – waking up is just proving to be a rude reminder that all is not well…and that things aren’t the way they used to be.

I had a friend say to me “well at least it was early”….and I know he meant well but it pissed me off. This pregnancy loss represents 1 year of trying, around 50K dollars, probably over 50 blood draws, 25 ultrasounds, 3 egg retrievals, countless hopes, dreams and now tears. It isn’t just a mass of cells that I will expel – it had eyes, the beginning of arms and legs, a heart that was beating! This was going to be my child. So please, if you are reading this and you are my friend IRL – don’t try to make me feel better by minimizing this. It will only piss me off and I’ll say something rather nasty.

I’ve mentioned that I am a member of an IVF board – where all sorts of women meet to offer support and knowledge about their journeys with infertility… So many women on this board have had such horrible struggles – the kind of thing that is just imaginable. Some can’t even bear to read posts where the word pregnancy or baby are mentioned. Some are bitter and even claim to hate fertiles for taunting them with their pregnant bellies. I never could understand that, really. I swore I’d never feel bitterness toward a pregnant woman or saddened by the sight of a newborn…until this happened. As soon as I walked out of the RE’s office on Friday I saw pregnant women everywhere – and little babies in strollers, being held by their fathers. I swear it – I must have seen about 6 of them in between the office and my car…and then I finally understood. I felt angry and bitter and pissed off…at people I don’t even know.

Ah well – tonight I am taking my wee son to meet Santa Claus…and then I will stay awake until midnight drinking glass after glass of water….because there is nothing worse than a mid day operation. I’ll be thirsty and starving all morning, dammit all.

One thing – I pray to God that this embryo is abnormal…because if it is normal then it is going to open up a whole new world of hurt and worry for me.

blech

I keep meaning to post IVF # 4 – 6 and their stats, etc. You know, just in case someone really wants to hear about my ovarian response to gonadotropins. Actually I learned a lot from reading about other people’s cycles. I probably wouldn’t have my son had I not come across a blog back in 2006 where a woman had zero fertilization of 17 good looking eggs – thanks to her I made sure we did ICSI on each cycle and had good fertilization.

Unfortunately this blog is turning into one long moan and I am sorry to say that there isn’t much I can do about it. I’m not the kind of person who can wait and see. I need to know what I am facing.

So here I am facing a deep dark hole – I am 8 weeks today. Yesterday, at 7 weeks 6 days, the embryo measured 7 weeks exactly – 7.2 days if you use another measurement. I have earned my google MD….and over the past 24 hours I’ve become an expert on reading fetal ultrasounds prior to 9 weeks gestation. So the facts are that I measuring behind – to be precise, the embryo is measuring (the CROWN RUMP LENGTH or CRL) exactly 1cm. This corresponds to a gestational age of 7 weeks exactly (there is a plus or minus of 5 days but….I received this reading from two different techs so I’m going to trust it). Last week I measured 3 days behind and now the gap is widening. This could mean a number of things.

The Bad:

1. Abnormality. Triploidy/other chromosomal abnormality in the embryo seems like a reasonable diagnosis for slow fetal growth.

2. Sac size not growing fast enough to accommodate growing fetus. My sac is measuring 5 weeks 3 days (which translates to 2/3 days ahead of the embryo). I won’t bore you with the minutiae but basically this is a death sentence.
3. Blood flow problems. I have a blood clotting issue. I am on lovenox injections once per day to keep my blood clot free and flowing. Hopefully this is working because these shots are a mother. My legs are bruised and battered and quite frankly, I spend a good deal of my day dreading them. When my husband does the injection it definitely doesn’t hurt as much. I’m such a wimp that I SLOWLY stick the needle into my thigh and then even more slowly inject the fluid. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to giving myself injections.

The good (there are some glimmers of hope here):

1. The embryo is a girl. Read this: The longitudinally collected observations showed that CRL in female fetuses was significantly smaller compared with that in male fetuses
2. Late implanter. Could be – I did have lowish betas and who knows when I actually conceived on an IUI cycle (though I suspect it was within a 24 hour period of November 4th).
3. Tech error. Again, highly unlikely that two techs are going to come up with the same measurements.

So I guess I just have to wait until Monday’s ultrasound. I have to remain hopeful that growth will be consistent and that the heartbeat (154 bpm) will remain strong. The prognosis isn’t good though – from every story I have read of women in the same position…probably 80 percent resulted in miscarriage.