Tuesday, June 23, 2015

It's official...

I am the worst blogger in the history of bloggers! I completely admit that my follow through is complete and total shit! I don't know why... it has always been that way for me with writing. It's strange because I love to do it and am really excellent at it, so you'd think I would do it more often or at least be more consistent about the writing that I do start. Well, what can I say? We all squander some of our gifts, don't we?

In my own defense, it is on my bucket list to complete something written. I have yet to determine what that might be... but it's on the list.

The last time I wrote, I was stimming and getting bloated. Everything felt pretty good, no real pain to speak of. My trigger was a breeze, which I was a bit concerned about. I had a really bad reaction to a trigger shot once, so I was prepared for just about anything. Turns out, it was the easiest of all of my shots.

                                       Retrieval Day!

Things couldn't have been smoother. I was knocked out, which should go without saying considering what they're getting ready to do to you! I wore a necklace that belonged to my grandmother, my Hope necklace and my Kokopelli necklace. I also had on my Kokopelli bracelet and my fish bracelet. My other grandmother would always dream of fish whenever someone was expecting... so, the bracelet has always made me think of her.

When I woke up, they told me they had retrieved 13 eggs! Tears of happiness started rolling down my cheeks, which everyone thought was so sweet. The next thing I remember was waking up and feeling some cramps that weren't unbearable, but they weren't nice either. I mentioned it to the nurse and she shot something into my IV that made the cramps disappear within about 5 minutes... never to return! I dunno what that was... but it's some good shit!

I spent the next few days on bed rest and that's when things started feeling sore. My ovaries felt full and achy, but again... nothing unbearable.

The next day the call from embryology came. Of our 13 eggs, only 6 were mature. Of those 6, only 3 had fertilized normally. 1 was abnormal and "missing a piece", so it never stood a chance. The other 2 were given a 10% chance of making it, so we should operate on the theory that the 3 we had were the 3 we had. Our fertilization rate was really good though, no ICSI required.

I've gotta be honest, I felt a little deflated. It was like my eggs had gone through the Hunger Games overnight. I mean, I knew the chances of them ALL fertilizing was low and I never expected it... but I didn't expect to go from 13 to 3! D reminded me that it only takes 1 and that 3 was still really good.

The next day's call informed us that we currently had 4 good looking embryos! That's right... 4! One of my little 10 percenters decided they just weren't gonna give up and wound up catching up! I was told they were growing perfectly and that transfer would be the following morning at 10:15. I'd have to drink 32 oz of water and take a Valium an hour beforehand.

                                      Transfer Day!

We suited up, I had blood taken and we headed to the back. The embryologist came out and gave us the status of our embies. We would be transferring one 8 cell and one 6 cell. Another 8 cell and a 4 cell would become our snowbabies! The embryologist took D's phone to the lab and snapped pics for us.

Those were some of the most amazing images I had ever seen in my entire life. While I would have preferred to NOT have to go this route... this is one of the very special things you only get to experience if you DO have to go this route. It is definitely something I will never forget. 

I wound up passing out in that lovely chair there while waiting for them to call us back. That Valium certainly did it's thing! The only thing that wound up waking me was the horrific pain from my bladder that was sick and damn tired of holding those 32 oz of water. I'm not talking "Oh, I really gotta pee." I'm talking "Why am I being stabbed through my vagina? And if I don't pee soon... I'm gonna pee soon." D found one of the nurses and asked if they'd be taking me soon because I was struggling. The nurse came and got me and let me pee one and a half styrofoam coffee cups worth of pee and then it was off to the races!

The RE, who is referred to as The Queen (same one who did my retrieval) was doing my transfer. The most uncomfortable part was the speculum... How I hate Mr. Ducky. The nurse turned the screen so that we could see everything, pointing out where my uterus was, etc. I'm holding D's hand for dear life, preparing for the catheter... because those usually kinda suck for me.

The nurse could tell I was nervous so she told me "Just watch the screen, you'll be able to see exactly when it happens and you won't even notice." The catheter was handed to the RE and my eyes then fixed on the screen. I gotta say, I knew the precise moment the catheter went in because I saw it on the screen, but I felt nothing. The next thing I knew, we saw a little flash of light and were told those were our babies!

After resting for 10 minutes, D and I went and had a wonderful lunch at a great Mexican restaurant and then made the trek back home.

At 3dp3dt I felt sharp stabbing pains on my left side. The following week consisted of sporadic stabbing pains, some AF type cramps and a touch of nausea. I'd never experienced those symptoms on progesterone before, so it made me hopeful.

I'm not a tester. I don't pee on things because they have always given me nothing but bad news. So I decided that I would wait until my beta, which wouldn't be until 16dp3dt. I know to some, that seems crazy. How could you wait that long? Wouldn't the anticipation kill you?

Actually... no. I had a pretty peaceful wait. I felt a quiet confidence that I couldn't really explain... hoping inside that I wouldn't be fooled once again. When you've had the journey I've had... you're in no rush to see that BFN. This time, I knew I had actual fertilized embryos inside of me, which gave me a different feeling.

Yesterday was the big day. I made the long drive to Jersey for my blood test and told them to call D at home since I had some errands to do with my parents and, God forbid it was bad news, I didn't wanna be driving while ugly-crying. I didn't wind up getting home until after 5pm... blood was drawn around 11!

So... all the months, all the driving, all the shots, all the hopes and prayers came down to this one moment. After D told me the news, I headed straight for the bathroom. It was finally my turn to see those 2 beautiful pink lines and that gorgeous word "Pregnant"!

I can still hardly believe it! I am finally reading the Pregnancy books that I have packed away and refused to allow myself to read until I knew I was expecting. All of the things I have to look forward to are flooding my mind... Mommy magazines, ultrasounds, a growing belly, baby movements... a baby shower!!

On the drive home, I heard Best Day of My Life by American Authors... yeah, that pretty much nailed it!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Grow Follies Grow!!

I'm finally home and comfy from my appointment this morning. The drive went pretty well with only a few minor delays from a lane closed on the Turnpike... but what can ya do? I was only about 5 minutes late and they're really awesome about it because they know how far I travel to get there.

I was taken straight away from my ultrasound. My lining remains "beautiful" according to the tech. :^) As far as follies go... my largest are two 14mm's followed by a 13, a 12.6 an 11, a 10 and some others she didn't get into. Friday is looking too soon for trigger.

I mentioned that I haven't been feeling overly bloated or miserable and the tech said "You will. It will get yucky." I laughed and said "I guess I should enjoy this time of feeling normal then?" and we both laughed as she agreed. She filled out all the forms and gave them to C while I got dressed. I then went back out to the lobby and got in the blood work line. The tech there was awesome too, didn't sting too bad when she stuck me.

I sat in the waiting room, working on my crochet, while waiting for C to come and restock my stims. When she did pop out, she told me she was just waiting on some results before she'd know what we were doing. I told her it was all good... I brought stuff to keep me busy.

Wound up chatting a bit with the woman sitting directly in front of me. I think this was her first visit and we had a bit of Waiting Room Bonding over the stupid shit advice people give us and how it makes us wanna smash our heads into the wall. She shared how much she wanted to tell her sister to Shut the Fuck Up instead of gritting her teeth and smiling at her wondering whether her lack of positivity is pushing the baby away! We rolled our eyes and shared that "knowing" that only two infertiles can share. It was actually pretty cool!

C called me back to an office and brought in more meds and a fresh freezie pack. She told me everything looks wonderful, that they probably would keep my dose the same, but she'd text me when the Dr. told her for sure. We sat and shot the shit for about 15 minutes or so before I packed up my stuff and headed to Wawa... I had a meatball sandwich on my mind!

Pulled in to Wawa, got a meatball sandwich, iced Mocha Latte and a Tastykake Lemon Pie. While eating the sandwich in the car I discovered that the Mocha Latte was shit. That was disappointing. Oh well. I was full and the pie was for later. LOL!

I hit the road and started the drive home. C texted me while I was on the Turnpike with my instructions, but I don't screw with my phone while I'm driving, so I left it to read once I got home. When I pulled into the driveway, I saw that she had instructed me to continue 300 IU's today, tomorrow and Friday... returning first thing Saturday morning for my next scan.

I did my shots and went up to get changed. That's when I noticed in the mirror that I did seem a bit bloated. I snapped a pic and then compared it to the pic I snapped on Day 1 of stims.


Um... yeah... I'd say that's more change than I realized! While I still feel pretty great... it's definitely clear from the pics that stuff is happening! I'm so excited I can barely sit still!

Grow Follies Grow!!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Moving right along...

Boy oh boy!

Things went from being all quiet and boring to... Holy crap this is happening!

I had my appointment on Monday and everything is going great! The u/s tech said my lining looked beautiful and that everything is going just as it should. I asked the tech if the 12 follies I had were all that I would have or if I'd make more and she said you never know, sometimes the ones you had will just get bigger, sometimes you'll make more. I think she said that there were some smaller ones in addition to the initial 12, but she was mostly talking about the main 12 when she said they were growing nicely, at least one of which was a 12mm. No signs of OHSS and all of my blood work came back just as it should.

C said the doctor wasn't in the office yet, so she wasn't sure if he'd want to up my Gonal-F or not, so she gave me 2 more pens and said she'd text me the dose once the doctor had a chance to look at my file. She told me I'd need to come back on Wednesday at 10:30 for more blood work and another scan and probably again on Friday. D asked her when she thought retrieval might be and she said we could trigger as early as Friday, depending on how things look, which would put retrieval on Sunday and transfer on Wednesday.


About an hour later, I got a text from C telling me to up my Gonal-F to 300 for the next 2 days and keep my Lupron at 10.

So far, things have been going well. I have had headaches every day since starting the stims, but it hasn't been unbearable. I've been taking Tylenol for it and it seems to help a bit. It doesn't take it away, but it dulls it.

The other drag has been that our niece got me sick. She had a snotty nose on Thursday and Friday when I watched her, and now... I'm sick. I've been sick since first thing Saturday morning. C said I could take just about any kind of cold meds, so D got me some Dayquil, which I started taking yesterday. I've been blowing yellow shit outta my nose since Sunday morning. Monday, I woke up with a cough.

I'm feeling a tiny bit better today... but not much. C told me it's time for me to start taking it easy, so I guess this cold kinda came at a good time. It's kinda forcing me to take it easy. I'm hoping to feel better at least by Thursday, because I'm supposed to watch our niece again. I feel exhausted just thinking about it.

Speaking of which, D and I talked and he's of the mind that he doesn't want me watching her for my entire TWW. I was thinking maybe the first week... he said a week and a half before changing it to the full two weeks. He feels like we're taking this huge step and making this investment... we shouldn't take any chances. Picking up and running after a 9 month old, when I don't have to, seems like an unnecessary risk to him. I can't say I completely disagree with him. She does have other back up sitters, so it's not like I'd be leaving her completely in the lurch.

The shots themselves have been going great for the most part. I feel like a total rock star when it comes to that, whether D does them or I have to do them myself. There have been a few occasions where there's been a bit of medicine on the tip of the needle and those shots have stung a bit, but for the most part, they've been completely uneventful.

It has seemed a bit odd to me that I've been feeling fairly normal. All the books I've read and stories I've heard... so many people talk about the bloating, feeling your ovaries swell up with eggs, etc... and I'm not feeling any of that. I'm not worried or anything because all the monitoring they do will always tell more than what I'm feeling will ever tell me... and all of that says that everything is progressing just as it should. Now, they have increased the dose of my stims... so who knows how I will be feeling in the next few days. I may be writing about how I should have enjoyed the time of feeling "normal" because that's long gone now... or that just may not be my experience.

Well, it's time for more cold meds, some OJ and the next movie in my Harry Potter sofa marathon...

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Houston... We have...


We've made it and been accepted into the study!

I had my baseline appointment yesterday with ultrasound and blood work. They did the ultrasound first and C told the u/s tech "Don't round her lining up. If it's 4.9, put 4.9 because she needs to be below 5. If she's not, we'll just keep her on Lupron for a few more days."

Okey dokey... I didn't know exactly what that meant, but at least I knew what we were shooting for. So when the u/s tech said "Your lining is good... it's 4." I said "Yay" and did a mini golf clap. Can't be jumpin' around too much when Dildo-Cam is engaged. She then moved on to counting my follicles and said "Oh you have a lot. That's good!"

I've gotta be honest. It's been a while since I've had one of these checks done, and being 40 now, I was a little worried. How were things working in there? My cycles had gotten all kinds of fubar before my Crohn's was diagnosed, back when I had dropped down to 94 lbs. Even though my cycles are back to normal length, I always just wondered. Just because you bleed every month, doesn't mean things are actually doing what they're supposed to be doing. So it was reassuring to hear that everything, u/s-wise, was functioning as it should.

I went 'round the corner and got into line for blood work. The tech was great with that too. I didn't even feel the needle go in, which is saying something. I had blood work done on Monday at Quest to check on my Crohn's and that one burned like a son of a bitch. It's all down to the tech... really. It's a shame too, because the lady at Quest was really nice. I was hoping she'd be awesome, since I have to go in every 2 weeks.

Anyway, after I gave my offering to the vampires, I went to my folks place. If my blood work came back right, I'd have to go back to the clinic to pick up my stims. So I went and visited with them. It's been kinda tough there right now, what with my dad having just been diagnosed with lung cancer, going through radiation and chemo and just last week they had to have their oldest cat put to sleep. So it's been kinda sad and difficult right now, which has kinda stolen some of the joy and excitement from this process, if I'm being honest.

I mean, while they're happy for me and all... they have so much on their plates right now that I feel like they just don't have the mental energy to get excited. In a way, it kinda feels like "Oh that's nice for you, but we have to deal with cancer right now, so yeah..." Not that anyone has said that, but... it's just a feeling I have.

And it doesn't help that we owe my dad a bit of money, which we were totally prepared to pay the balance in full... right up until we found out when we'd be having to write that almost $4000 check. I had to break that to my dad yesterday and he didn't take it well. We'll be able to pay him within 4 weeks, but I think the stress of everything just made it so that all he could hear was that I wasn't paying him back because I needed to spend the money on something else.

He did calm down once he saw how badly I felt about the timing of it all, but I had to leave fairly soon after, because I got the text that all was good with my blood and that I should come back for my meds.

Traffic was a freakin' nightmare, but I got there. C came out with my swag and took me into the office to go over everything. I got an Ivy Study water bottle & pink cooler bag to keep my meds in along with 3 boxes of Gonal-F :^) We went over how to do the shot and the diary that I have to fill out each day for each injection. I have to note the time of the injection, the time I inspected the injection site, I have to put a little sticker from the pen on the page, note any reaction at the injection site, any health changes (side effects or anything different) and any new medication I take (like Tylenol).

I did my first 225 IU Gonal-F shot and also did my Lupron, which has been decreased to 10 IU's. The shots went like a breeze, so that rocked! I filled out the details on the check, got a fresh Lupron kit and was sent on my way to come back the morning of Memorial Day to check how things are going and to give me fresh pens. She said we should be in and out fairly quickly.

So, while it was an exciting day it was also a kinda stressful day, with my dad and all. I was stressed leading up to it, but his reaction made it worse, so when I got a headache on the drive home, I wasn't sure if it was from everything or the meds.

Well, I got another headache not too long after today's shot too... so I'm thinking it's the meds. I took a couple of Tylenol before heading out to dinner with D & my MIL. There's an All You Can Eat seafood dinner every Thursday night, so we went. I thought I heard that there's something about pregnant women not being able to eat shellfish...? So I figure I'd get my fill while I can. My headache seemed to piss off while I was pounding all those crab legs, but seemed to come back a bit after dinner. It's duller than it was, but it's still there. Some of the girls who have been down this road already have said that they might go away after a few days, so here's hoping this isn't going to be "a thing".

I am feeling a bit tired, but I dunno if I can really attribute that to the meds. Our niece had her shots yesterday and wasn't feeling so well today. She's got a stuffy snotty nose, so she had a hard time breathing through her nose when drinking her bottle, which made napping difficult. Since I had a rougher day babysitting than usual, that could be why I'm feeling a bit more tired as well.

We're heading upstate this weekend to spread my SFIL's ashes and mount a plaque on his tree stand. We're leaving first thing Saturday morning and coming back Sunday. Hopefully everything goes smoothly. I know this is gonna be tough for my MIL... firsts are always hard.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Ho Hum... Twiddlin' Thumbs

Things are still feeling fairly quiet, but I do think I'm starting to feel a bit more excited. I'm getting closer to my Baseline appointment on Wednesday, which is when I could be randomized and start my stims... so that's making me feel a bit anxious.

The Lupron has been going great for the most part. The actual shots themselves have become so much easier than I ever dreamed they could be. I wrote before that D had taken over as Official Shot Giver, and he has been an absolute freakin' Rock Star at it! He had one shot that didn't go perfectly smooth, but even that wasn't bad. We've gotten a system where he touches the tip of the needle to my skin so that I don't jump, counts to 3 and then pushes in. I literally feel nothing! I've even had to do a couple of them myself and those have been awesome too!

It might seem odd to be so excited about something like that but... I'm a huge needle-phobe, so for me... this is like a pretty big victory. I feel like I've not only stood in the face of a fear without shrinking away, but that I've also kinda defeated it because I no longer fear the shots. I don't dread them, I don't look for ways to delay them, I don't complain about them. Every time we do one and it goes perfect I feel that much stronger! So that's at least one positive that's come out of this experience so far.

I have felt a touch tired the past few days or so and D says I've been a touch moody, not bad but not my normal self either. I'm not sure if that's a Lupron Crohn's combo or what, because it did take a bit longer for the Prednisone to start making me feel better this time 'round, and when I'm flaring, I'll be honest... my moods aren't great. Sometimes I feel a little sting with the shot, but more times than not, I don't feel anything.

Yesterday my BFF came up from Harrisburg to bring some stuff she doesn't need/have space for. She gave us a brand new Gold's Gym treadmill her mom bough but never used, a solid wood futon frame (which is going into the spare bedroom so that we can at least offer someone a bed to sleep on should they need it) with mattress, a room divider and some shelves. Once we got all that stuff unloaded, we were all hungry so we went over to the Ice Shack & BBQ Pit for lunch.

I got a pulled pork sandwich with waffle fries and an Oreo milkshake. OMG!!! Was that place goood!! Everything was so fresh and delicious. I won't lie... I ate more than I should have and wound up feeling really bloated afterwards. But it was so good I couldn't help myself. After they left, I wound up taking a nap on the sofa while D washed and detailed the car.

When I woke up D told me we'd been invited to his sister's house. They cooked out and were gonna build a fire in their backyard, so a bunch of us sat around listening to music, talking and having a good time. I let myself enjoy what, God willing, will be one of my last opportunities for any drinking. My youngest SIL was "letting her hair down" and wanting some company, so I indulged a wee bit. I remember what it was like being 22 and not wanting to be the only one having a good time. :^)

We wound up staying there til after 12:30... it was nice. We talked about our Memorial Day weekend trip upstate. We're all heading up to Lockhaven this coming weekend to spread my SFIL's ashes and place a plaque with his name and all at his tree stand where he used to hunt all the time. Not to mention, there's work that needs to be done on the land that Ladd used to do every year, now it's up to all of us.

We're heading up first thing Saturday morning because we knew we had to come home Sunday since we've gotta be at the IVF clinic first thing Monday morning for my appointment, but it turns out everyone is coming home Sunday as well, so we won't be missing out on anything.

I'm really looking forward to my appointment this Wednesday. I'm hoping that I'll get to start my stims and that we'll get to start moving onto growing my follies and making some perfect eggs to turn into at least one perfect baby!

Friday, May 8, 2015

A Mixed Bag...

If you're new to the whole TTC thing, and if you are, I can't help but wonder how in the hell you found your way here. I mean, I understand this is the internet and it's all public and whatnot. I also understand that I am one in about a gazillion people writing a blog on said internet, so I guess the thought that someone who doesn't know me would find mine... just... I dunno.

But I digress.

If you are new, then you probably don't know that there are quite often things TTC wise that common folk might consider TMI or Too Much Information. Well, News Flash. This blog will contain TMI. I can promise it. I can guarantee it. You know how I know I can guarantee it? Because not only am I an advanced level TTC'er, I've also got Crohn's.


I'm now gonna drop the mic and allow a few moments for the mind to ponder all of the TMI those two topics have the capability of covering.


I know, right? I wish I could see the looks on your faces!! Oh the places this could go! You have no idea! Understand, I don't enjoy all of these lovely experiences, but this is the life I know and I'll be damned if I'm gonna spend it feeling shit about my lot. I'm gonna find the funny wherever I can and if that offends your delicate sensibilities... well, frankly darlin', that's just tough fuckin' shit. ;^)

Now that we've dispensed with the appropriate disclaimers, I can get on to the week.

Monday morning, my stepfather in law passed away from terminal cancer. We knew it was coming, which is the main reason we moved back to Central PA, but it was still fairly sudden, in a way. I mean, Saturday he'd just been sleepy. Monday at 2:30 am he had gotten up and taken himself to the bathroom. Five hours later, he was staring ahead vacantly with labored breathing, completely non-responsive. By 11:45 am, he was gone. I watched my grandmother pass at home, so I knew what the last few minutes looked like and was able to say something so that D could gather everyone into the room.

So, naturally we had to reschedule D's SA. We were able to move that to Wednesday at 1 pm, but we'd have to drive to Jersey for it instead of the Melrose Park office. No biggie. With everything that was going on, we figured that was a fairly small sacrifice to have to make.

We spent all day Monday at D's mom's as well as a fair bit of Tuesday. As is usual when there's a death, she's had tons of callers and visitors, but we wanted to make sure that she was doing as well as can be expected at this point, run any errands she may have needed, etc. I also needed to take her the info I had gotten on food for the memorial service so that she could decide what she wanted to get.

While sitting at the kitchen island with my sister in law, I got into a bag of sunflower seeds. See... I have a thing for sunflower seeds. It very likely goes back to my childhood summers spent in South Philly. We would go either to "Fruitsie's" or the Fire Station at Front & Washington to buy .10 bags of sunflower seeds, then sit around and eat them. They're horribly salty and wind up burning my tongue long before I stop eating them, but there's just something about them.

I made sure not to go nuts with them, no pun intended, but the small amount I did have seemed plenty to wreak some havoc. So yeah... my Crohn's got properly pissed off. It was already being a bit of a bitch before that, but with Ladd declining so fast, my own father being diagnosed with Stage 3 lung cancer and getting ready to start radiation and chemo, I wasn't surprised. Stress is like gasoline on the old Crohn's flare.

Well, this time it decided to throw a full on tantrum complete with a couple of new curve balls. Vomiting and bloody BM's. Not normal symptoms for me, so... no bueno. I tried to be mindful about eating softer more easily digestible foods over the next few days to see if that would satisfy and silence the Kraken. That's what I call my Crohn's flare... the Kraken. Because it gets all gurgly and noisy and crampy and evil and it sucks. Krake, in Norwegian & Swedish, is a word designating an unhealthy animal or something twisted. Perfect.

After four days of my toilet bowl looking like Shark Week, I put a call in to my GI. His nurse called me back first to find out what was up and she asked if I wanted to see him or just talk to him. I told her we'd moved 2 hours away, so talking to him would be best. As usual, he called me very quickly and we talked about how I'd been feeling.

He called in another round of Prednisone, because that shit works with the quickness for me. This will be my 3rd round, but he's also starting me on Mercaptopurine at the same time. It can take 3-6 weeks to start feeling relief from that, so the thought is that by the time I'm ramping down this course of Prednisone, the Mercaptopurine will have had enough time in my system to pick up where the steroids leave off. That's the hope anyway.

During my last GI visit, we had discussed the fact that we were planning to do IVF towards the end of the summer. He said that he's treated a number of patients with Mercaptopurine while pregnant and everyone has done really well without any problems or issues, so I'm not worried on that front. My GI has been doing this for a long time and I trust him.

As is usual, Crohn's cut in line and made itself the center of attention. Diva bitch!

I started the new meds today and I won't lie, it's been a rough day. We had Ladd's memorial service this afternoon and while I was feeling like a proper pile of shit, I made it through the majority of it. After the service, I had a small bit to eat and that didn't sit too well. D said he'd run me home if I wanted, which I did. His Uncle Jimmy called me a strong girl saying he could see in my face that I wasn't feeling well earlier and that he was going to come offer to take me home. Every time he sees me since my diagnosis, he always asks about my Crohn's and how I'm doing... <3

So, now I'm home in my big soft bed with some comfies on finally able to bring this all up to speed.

Wednesday D's SA went... fine. He woke me up at like 1 am asking if "doing it" would ruin the test. "Um... yeah." I sleepily replied. I listened to him whine for a few minutes before he surrendered and went to sleep. Dork. He knows better. Needless to say, he was looking forward to getting into the "Fun Room" (a friend shared that one with me and I gotta say... I like it!!) that day.

C came over and flopped down on the love seat with me in the waiting room and asked if we wanted to take care of the last of our blood work while we were there. I said we might as well. D returned from the "Fun Room" and advised us that he hoped the sample would be alright because it sorta... hopped over the top of the cup on him. C and I both burst out laughing along with D.

Turns out his numbers came back fine. They haven't mentioned ICSI since, so maybe we won't need that...? Thursday was Visit #2. I gave another urine sample and then C and I headed into one of the offices to go over the Lupron.

Dun Dun Dun!!!

She asked if I'd done injectables before and I told her I had done Bravelle and Gonal-F for our last IUI, so she said it's basically the same deal, except the Lupron goes in my thigh instead of my belly like the Bravelle. She wrote down my shot schedule from 5/7-5/20.

5/7-5/10 is 20 IU shot of Lupron in the morning with 1 BCP in the evening through Sunday, 5/10. Might get spotting or a period after stopping the BCP.
5/11-5/19 will consist of 1 20 IU shot of Lupron in the morning.
5/20 I return to the office at 10 am to check my suppression with ultrasound and blood work. I'm not to take my Lupron shot that day until AFTER my appointment, since they might make changes depending on my results. That visit will be a "long visit" meaning, I have to hang around to wait for my results.

If all looks good, I will be randomized on 5/20. Meaning, they will determine whether I'll be taking Gonal-F or Afolia (the study drug). That's also the day that we've gotta pay. $3,793.75 to be exact. So far, the only thing I've paid has been the $390 for my initial visit with Dr. Check. We also will have to bring a check or money order for $450 on retrieval day for anesthesia, I believe.

I have to return on Memorial Day 5/25 at 8:15 am. I'm making D take me to that one. He wakes up at 5:30, naturally, every morning. Me... not so much. I'm usually up and out of bed by 7:30 or so... so he's the better candidate for driving that early in the morning.

After going over all of that, it was shot time. C made me do it in front of her to make sure I could do it. It was funny because once I got the needle in, I was telling my finger to push the plunger but I'll tell you what... that's one stubborn finger. It just sat there, mocking me... knowing that until the fluid was dispensed into my leg, that needle would have to remain in my flesh. C said "Push it... Push it." to which I replied that I was trying to. C then placed her index finger on top of mine and gave me a little push... and then another. We both laughed. Honestly, it wasn't as bad as I was anticipating.

We talked for a bit while she waited to check for any kind of reaction at the injection site. Once it was obvious that I was in the clear, she reminded me that I've got her cell, so if I need her for anything, even if it's a text to tell me "Do it, woman", to reach out any time. I gathered my box of meds and headed to my parents to visit with my dad.

When I got to my parents house, no one was there. I texted my sister and found out that his appointment had been moved up to 1 pm. I jumped in the car and drove over to the Kimmel Cancer Center. Once his first radiation treatment was done, we met with the doctor and his resident, he had some blood work done and then we went back to the house.

I sat and visited with him for a few hours. We talked football for a good while. :^) Then I had to get on the road since it's a fairly hefty drive home, rush hour would be kicking in soon and we had the memorial today. He starts chemo on Monday, so I'm going to visit him again on Wednesday. They told him chemo treatments will take like... half the day, so there's no point in my trying to see him on chemo days.

I got home around 7:30 or so and told D all about my appointment, at which point he asked if I wanted him to do my shots for me. I was totally surprised because I wanted him to do them last time, but he was too freaked by the thought of it. I said I'd love for him to do them if he felt that he could. So today, he gave me my 2nd Lupron shot... and did a better job than I did with the 1st one! You can still see the little red spot where I gave myself the shot. His? I couldn't tell you where it was. I did jump when I first felt the tip of the needle touch my leg and he said "You can't be jumpin' now!" while we both laughed.

So yeah... this is real. This is happening.

We are officially doing IVF.

Right now.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Tunes to Travel By...

D's SA has been scheduled for Monday morning at 10 am. Luckily, we can go to the Melrose Park office, which is about a half an hour closer to home for us, so that's nice. My next visit will be that Thursday... that's when I'll start Lupron.

Starting to feel real.

Since I've got a lot of driving ahead of me over the next couple of months, I've decided that I wanna build an IVF Playlist. I get frustrated with the radio often times. If they're not playing commercials, it seems they're playing the same 5 songs over and over. Our satellite radio is a bit better, but even then... I still find myself channel hopping.

So, this is one of my projects. I'm thinking of putting old songs that have meant something to me over this entire journey,  new songs that either inspire or uplift me and maybe even a few songs that I might sing to my child should this all work out the way we're praying that it will.

I would LOVE to hear what songs other girls leaned on, so to speak, during their journey. I've got a handful in mind already, but with the clinic being a 2 hour drive (without traffic) I've got some space to fill yet. Suggestions, links to YouTube videos in the comments... whatever ya'll wanna do, I'll love it all!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Dreaded Day...

Today is the day I've least been looking forward to. Sonohystogram day. :(

I was pretty much blown off with my Ativan request. I never heard back about it, and it felt like an uphill climb at the first request, so I really didn't feel comfortable pushing it. Plus, when they told me D could come with me, I figured worse case scenario, I'd have him to lean on. I did take 1/2 of one of his klonopin since it's for anxiety, thinking maybe it would help a bit.

My appointment wound up getting pushed back from 1:30 to 3:00. The Dr was gonna be tied up with IVF's, so they needed to push me back. Great... more time to be nervous.

I've gotta say, I thought it was pretty cool that the moment I walked in, the girl at the front desk greeted me by first name. They took a urine sample and then C came and took us back to do our consents.

We decided, obviously, to freeze any extra embies and gave the credit card info for all of those charges. We decided what should happen to the snowbabies should one of us die or both of us die at the same time. We also had to sign that we understand that should we ever separate/divorce, etc. that we would be required to agree on the further disposition of the snowbabies. All pretty standard IVF fare.

Once we got all of that done, we found out that D has to go for his SA (semen analysis) like... ASAP. It's gotta be done during what's considered the "screening period" and that will end at my next visit on May 7th. So, I've gotta call the Melrose Park office first thing tomorrow morning and try to get him scheduled. They only do them on Mondays and Fridays, if I'm not mistaken. C gave me all the contact info and said that I'm to let her know should I have any problems getting it scheduled.

Monkeys... I need to tell you about the monkeys, but it's getting late and I really wanna get this uploaded before it gets much later. So... another time. But yes... monkeys.

Anyway, they come to get me and the nurse tells me D can't come in the room. I pretty much freaked out. Klonopin or no Klonopin... I was bugging. I explained about not getting the Ativan and being told I could have him in the room with me. She said about how the room was small, blah blah blah. So I heavy sighed and relented.

She took me to get my weight, temp & blood pressure. My hands were shaking, afraid I was about to cry. Once she finished she said she was going to speak with the Dr and find out if D could come. I thanked her profusely. She came back and said the Dr said it would be fine. Thank you God!

D, the Dr & 2 assistants get all situated in the room, the Dr does a general physical, breast exam and then it's time for the pap and cultures. Slightly uncomfortable, but nothing bad. Things didn't start to take a turn until it was catheter time, that's when the cramping began. Nothing unbearable, but really uncomfortable. D was holding one hand and when the fluid went in and the pressure intensified, the nurse took my other hand. The moment that intense pressure kicked in, I literally felt my armpits turn on like faucets. Talk about stress sweat.

I was trying to breathe through the cramping, but apparently I started breathing too fast and they had to tell me to slow down so I wouldn't pass out. I think I was all but crushing that nurses hand. They were great though, encouraging me, telling me how well I was doing, how we were almost done, etc.

All told, the sono lasted no more than 5 minutes. The cramping has sucked. I'm still feeling crampy now. But it's done now. I had no fibroids, no polyps, nothing that didn't belong there.

I am so glad D was able to be there for me today. It would've been so much harder having to go through that alone and then having to drive home with those cramps? Yeah, that would've sucked so much ass and I'd have been hating life for the entire 2 hours.

So... one more hurdle down.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Visit #1

Yesterday was the day. Nothing like getting a vaginal ultrasound whilst bleeding... Good times for everyone involved.

Before getting my Crohn's diagnosis, when things were really bad and I was quite sick, my cycles got completely fucked. I'm not surprised... I dropped down to 94 lbs, that kind of weight loss will totally throw a monkey wrench in your cycles. So when they got long and weird, I knew what was causing it.

Once I was under the care of a GI, started getting some form of treatment and putting some weight back on, my cycles seemed to return to their usual 28-29 day length. I haven't peed on a stick or taken my waking temps in I can't even tell you how long... So I really had no idea what my body was actually doing. After being on the TTC Tilt-a-Whirl long enough, one learns that bleeding signifies nothing... you can bleed but not ovulate.

So needless to say, I was a little concerned about what was actually going on inside of me. I'm 40 now, was I still making eggs? I haven't felt O pains in a long time... which also signifies nothing. I've had months were I surely ovulated, but felt nothing. If I was still making eggs, was I making enough to make it into the study?

As I lay there on the table, covered in the largest paper napkin in the world, staring at the ceiling I prayed for follies. I prayed things were still working. The ultrasound tech was pretty quiet, so I envisioned myself sitting with my IVF Coordinator (who shall be referred to as "C")saying "So, how'd we do?"

At around that same time, the tech announced that we were all finished, printed out the images she'd snapped, snipped the appropriate ones, filled out a form and told me that my count and lining both looked good.

Sigh of relief. One hurdle down.

I sat down with C and she told me everything looked great! I needed at least 10 antral follicles and I had 11. It would've been nice to have a few more, but I met the study criteria and that's all I really wanted.

While we were talking, the sonohystogram came up. I gave her my saga... how my 1st HSG was the most horrific procedure I'd ever been through, so my 2nd RE had given me a script for a nerve pill for my 2nd one, which was a breeze. I told her I'd really like to go that route again if I could... at the very least, I asked if D could be there with me.

She told me she'd had both procedures done, her HSG was also horrible... and she said the sono was waaaay better. I'm actually glad I mentioned it because I was reading about sono's and there was all this business about them inflating a balloon inside of you and I was like "Yeah... that way lies cramping and inexorable pain... I can feel it already" Needless to say, my armpits began sweating profusely as I imagined a Mickey Mouse Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon unfurling inside of my womb. No bueno.

When I said the word "balloon", C cocked her head to the side and said "balloon? There's no balloon. It's just a tiny catheter that allows saline to fill your uterus. But I'm sure we can get something for you." Hearing there is no balloon involved allowed my armpits to dry... a bit. I'm still not gonna like it... and nobody can make me like it.

So the unholy sonohystogram will be taking place on April 29th at 1:30 pm. They'll do whatever other cultures and whatnot that they need at the same time. I've got instructions about antibiotics and a full bladder and some other jibber jabber. I'll make sure I go over it, so I know what I need to do and when. D is going with me and we will sign the joint consents then (what to do with extra embryos, provide them with a credit card to charge storage fees to, what happens to the snow babies if one or both of us die, we divorce, etc.)

They took a bunch of blood and then sent me on my way with scripts for birth control that I started yesterday & antibiotics and a scheduled Visit #2 on May 7th. That will be urine pregnancy test & Lupron Day. Joy Joy!!

So I guess it's really official... I have begun IVF.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Oh aren't I clever?

Obviously I think I'm pretty funny. But dammit... it fits, if you think about it. 

I will openly admit I've never read Who Moved My Cheese, but on it's face, it sounds like someone was pretty sure they had some cheese and then all of a sudden... no cheese. No cheese is no bueno. I know the feeling.

What I do know is that it has something to do with 2 mice and 2 teeny little mouse sized humans living in a maze. The mice are like... mice. They want cheese and are willing to do whatever it takes to acquire said cheese while the teeny tiny humans have an ENTIRELY different relationship with the cheese. Apparently it's like their self image and whatnot. Again, I know the feeling. I know my struggle with infertility has been deeply interwoven with my self image at times. 

Well, I guess one day, someone moves their cheese and we read about how these 4 beings navigate the shit storm...? I dunno... I told you I've never read the damn thing! All I know is I feel like one day I woke up only to find that someone had come in the night and absconded with my fertility without so much as a word. Who does that kind of shit? Seriously, tell me. Because if I find the sorry bastard who took mine, they're gettin' a punch to the throat. 

So, if you were hoping this blog would be a clever parody of the aforementioned Cheese book... this is probably your exit. This is probably as far as the references will go... if for no other reason than the simple fact that, having not read the book... I've got nothing. 

I do thank you for your time and wholeheartedly apologize for the letdown you surely must be feeling. I thought, while being a funny take on the name, it also was pretty freakin' appropriate. Mostly I thought it was funny. And Lord knows on a journey like this, you need funny as often as you can get it. I gave no thought to the legions of Who Moved My Cheese fans and how my Bait and Switch, so to speak, would affect them. Should you feel truly aggrieved, leave your address in the comments and I will attempt to assuage you with a wedge of cheese. 

Speaking of this journey, my husband and I embarked upon it almost 6 years ago. It will actually be 6 years to the day in 2 days. We spent so many years being advised not to have kids when we were younger... as if we'd blink and BOOM! If you could only hear the bitter edge to my laugh at that memory. Granted, during the times we were given that advice, we were not in the greatest of financial positions, so it wouldn't have been the ideal time... but as we all come to learn, there is no perfect time to do anything. Life is what happens while you're busy makin' plans.

Well, a lot happened while we were makin' all those plans and by the time we felt "safe" actually trying for a child, it turned out to be a much more difficult prospect than we could have ever imagined. Initially, it was super exciting. For the first time, actually trying to have a baby. Knowing that when you told people the news, they would all be nothing but happy. That was a happy and exciting time.

Unfortunately, that happiness and excitement turned to sadness and disappointment. Each month's cycle ended with a mixture of blood and tears. We followed the Infertility Playbook that most players are familiar with... went to the OB after 6 months, blood tests, semen analysis and Clomid. After my first HSG showed one blocked fallopian tube, I was referred to a specialist.

Surgery cleared the tube and it was off to the IUI races. We did 2 all natural IUI's, neither of which were successful. Our 3rd attempt was with the assistance of Clomid. I always responded really well to Clomid, so I was really hopeful that the combination of the 2 would do the trick. When that cycle went bust as well, we decided to depart the ART Train for a bit and take a breather. The emotional and financial costs were starting to take their toll. We wanted to just turn things down a notch and see what happened.

Well... what happened was nothing. 

We decided that if we really wanted to do this, we needed to face the fact that IVF was our likely route. Since we had moved, I found a new RE. I gave him the rundown of what we'd done thus far, showed him all my records from my previous RE, including the photos from my lap surgery. I told him we were ready for IVF, but was talked into trying another IUI, only this time with injectable drugs. I'd never done injectables before, so once again, I was hopeful.

When it resulted in yet another failed cycle, I was disappointed, but not devastated. I had IVF in my sights and insurance to cover it. Or so I thought. I won't get into all the laborious details about that saga, but suffice it to say all of our IUI's had been chipping away at the coverage we did have, so by the time we were ready to do IVF, there was no more coverage to do it. Now would be the time for that devastation to kick in.

I spent a lot of time looking into the various IVF options like Shared Risk, etc. Unfortunately, most of those programs have age cutoffs and I was past it. I wound up stumbling upon the website for The Cooper Institute for Reproductive Hormonal Disorders. They didn't have any age restrictions and actually specialize in the more difficult cases. What I really liked was that they listed their pricing right on their site and it was LOADS cheaper than anywhere else I'd seen. So that was the plan. When the time was right, we'd call Cooper.

In mid March, we moved back to my husband's hometown. There are some family health issues, and since he's able to work from home, we were able to come back. The move is saving us a lot. Our taxes and car insurance rates dropped, the rent and cost of living are less... so we set a goal to kick off the IVF process around the end of summer.

On March 30th, I decided to pop on over to Cooper's website just to refresh my memory on things, see if there had been any price changes since my last visit to the site, etc. Indeed there had been a price increase, though they are still WAY below anywhere else. I happened to notice a link at the top of the site for The Ivy Study. What, pray tell, is this I wonder.

I discover that The Ivy Study is an IVF clinical trial that Cooper is participating in for women 35-42 years of age who are TTC and have been told IVF is their only option. Hey!! That's me! They like... never include members of the Dusty Egg Club! But here it was in writing. I clicked on the contact link and fired off an email to get the 411.

A few minutes later I get a reply giving me the info on the study and informing me that if I was interested, they'd have to get me consented the next day, as that was the cut off date for the study. Here's the specifics on the study: 

Gonal-F can now be made available in generic form in the US. A Swiss company has made a version that's been used and shown to be equally effective in Europe for years. They're now seeking FDA approval for use in the US. It has been tested on women under 35, now it's the old gal's turn.

The IVF cycle is $3093.75 All of the drugs will be provided for free, with the exception of the birth control. But as for the suppression drugs, the stims, the trigger and the progesterone support? That's all provided free. $400 for the blood work/ultrasound package, $825 for ICSI, $300 for embryo freezing with a quarterly storage fee of $125. Any other tests not covered by your insurance (sonohystero-up-up-and-away-in-my-beautiful-balloon-in-my-uterus test, infectious blood, etc) are at your expense.

The clinic is in New Jersey and we're in Central PA now, but as luck would have it... I had an appointment with my primary care just outside Delaware the very next day, so I'd be kinda in the area. I replied asking what would be involved with the consent. She wrote back and said it takes about an hour to go through all of the details and sign all of the paperwork. But... we would not be able to wait until the end of summer. We would need to be ready to start at the beginning of my next cycle. Um... whoa. Better discuss that one with the hubster.

On his next break, I told him about what I'd found. I knew he'd dig the main details, but I wasn't sure about the time frame. Surprisingly, his response was "Do it. Do whatever you need to do." 

After my appointment the following day, I drove to the clinic, went over and signed all of the papers and met my new RE. He seems pretty awesome thus far. I mean, the man has breakfast with is wife every morning! How can he not be cool? He has quite the sense of humor as well, which I always find reassuring. I was sent home with my IVF Coordinator's cell phone number with instructions to text/call on CD 1.

That day came... today. 

So... tomorrow at 11:45 I will be having my blood work and ultrasound to make sure that I have at least 10 but no more than 20 antral follicles. If I do, I'm in the study and our IVF journey will begin.

Hopefully this journey is about to come to a long awaited and beautiful end. I'm sure there will be both aggravation and hilarity as we fumble our way through all of this. If you've made it this far, I thank you. It's been a long time since I've written about any of this stuff. Hell, it's been a long time since I've had anything to write about! But it feels good to do this... and it'd feel even better if you'd let me know you're out there. (._.)/ Hello! See me waving? LOL!
And... I've just now realized why I'm feeling so silly, drawing faces out of parenthesis and such! I took so freakin' long writing this damn thing that now, all of the "tomorrow"s I wrote about are now... "today"s. 

Sorry folks... Shit happens and I'm just gonna have to ask you to let me slide on this one... 

And again, if you're really bent... there's always cheese.