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.

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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. 😉

IVF #3 – a conclusion of sorts

Monday, May 29 was a Memorial Day.  C and I returned to NYC that evening.  The week ahead was sure to be rough – we were putting our cat to sleep that week and I was going to get the final word from the doctor that my HGC level had indeed, like the month previous, fallen.

I had one more HPT test left in my medicine cabinet in the apartment.  When I told C that I might as well use it up – he said, “why do you keep torturing yourself”.  He was right but an HPT in my hands is like a pipe full of crack to a crack addict.  I peed on it.  Quickly the line second line indicating pregnancy became very, very dark.  What in the hell as going on here!?  Neither C nor I could believe our eyes.  Could it be?  Once again our hopes were raised.  I was kicking myself – what about all that wine and the sleeping pill!  

My hopes were quickly dashed the following morning when my period began.  I went to the RE’s office around 8am, gave blood and waited for their phone call.  It finally came at 1pm – my husband was also on the line.  I had stopped taking phone calls from the doctor at work.  C and I decided that he should learn the news first and then inform me.  I heard the voice of the nurse..and stopped her in her tracks.  “I’ve started my period, so I know what you are going to say” I informed her.  “Well, that isn’t your period – your levels went up to 51”.  I couldn’t believe it.  

I quickly learned that a level of 51 at 15dpo was certainly within range for normal betas but it became clear that this was on the low side of normal.  Only 60% (or something like that) of pregnancies with a beta such as mine went on to become normal pregnancies.  Certainly this would be a singleton pregnancy – twins would probably be a much higher level…but every two days they checked my levels and every 48 hours my beta doubled.  I was given three  IVIG transfusions -there was a theory that my immune system was causing early miscarriages and this would help calm it down.  I was also placed on blood thinners for the remainder of my pregnancy.  One shot of lovenox and one shot of progesterone until week 12.  

When my beta level reached 5000 they stopped testing me every other day and I went in for a sonogram to check for a heartbeat.  I remember I was due to attend an offsite work presentation and had to arrive late.  When I walked in they were already in progress….everyone turned, looked and me and cheered when I told them there was one strong heartbeat place in the right spot in my uterus.  When I told C the news he said, “but what happened to the other ones??”.  That made me laugh – for the first time “be thankful for what you have” became something I could not only understand but live by!

During one of my many visits to the RE for a sonogram and bloodwork I passed a short woman wearing huge black sunglasses.  Instantly I knew who she was…and so do you.  I can’t ethically post her identity here but let’s just say she is a huge star married to a very famous actor.  A few days later while giving more blood I saw her husband (my childhood crush) enter the “wank room” as my husband calls it.  A number of weeks later I saw them both pass me while giving blood – clearly they had come for a conversation after a failed cycle.   She was around 40/41 (approximately) at the time and to my knowledge has never been pregnant again.  At that moment it occurred to me that infertility can happen to anyone to everyone – money certainly helps buy more cycles but can’t make your ovaries work or make that embryo a healthy one or solve implantation failure.  

I certainly digressed…the weeks went on and on – and nervously we waited for magical #12.  We had chosen the most conservative doctor in Manhattan (by ALL accounts) and she did a wonderful job of worrying about me and testing me – so much that I felt that I could finally relax.  We had our nuchal scan (where they measure the back of the neck to check for aneuploidy) at week 11 and all looked fine.  The blood work came back normal…but my doctor was urging me to have an amnio at 18 weeks.  She told us horror story after horror story about women who had great first and second trimester results delivering downs and trisomy babies.  But I couldn’t do it.  I’d come so far and was just not willing to take the 1 in 300 risk of miscarriage that might be the result of an amnio.  When I spoke to the radiologist he told me that results like mine had never – in his 20 plus years of experience – resulted in anything other than a normal child, my decision was made.  My doctor wasn’t pleased but I didn’t care.  I couldn’t take the risk.

In my 20th week they discovered that I had placenta previa – being on blood thinners and having your placenta cover your cervix was not a good combination.  I was put on modified bed rest and allowed to get up four hours a week (which I used stupidly used to go to work!).  On December 7, when I was 31 weeks pregnant, C lost his job – on December 8 my doctor, during a routine examination, found that I had dilated to 1 centimeter, my cervix had shortened considerably and I was contracting fairly regularly.  I was put in the hospital for four days on a magnesium sulfate drip.  That was the most miserable drug I’ve ever been given – it made you feel like you had a horrible case of the flu and every muscle in my body was weak and ached.  I was only allowed to get up once a day to use the toilet.  They gave me steroid shots to help develop the baby’s lungs should it arrive early.  On day 4 I had stabilized, was no longer contracting and  allowed to go home.  I stayed on the couch and in bed for a month and half.  I ventured out for a small walk at 35 weeks and had a massive contraction which sent me hobbling back to the apartment in pain with a very angry husband…and an even angrier OB on the telephone.  When she asked me why I went for a walk I told her the truth – I was bored.  “well the NICU is very exciting” she told me, referring to the Neonatal intensive care unit…my doula called and told me that I should have a small glass of whiskey to stop the contractions.  She urged me not to tell my doctor…and I didn’t.

At 38 weeks I was induced because of my blood clotting problem.  But first, to prove my child had well developed lungs, they made me do an amnio – which I did without hesitation.  I was feeling miserable and wanted desperately not to be pregnant anymore….