Monday, October 26, 2009

Our Last Shot

Thursday, 10-21-09 (Day 36) 8dp5dt

Beta #1: negative. I really hate that word.

It doesn't fit a celebratory 100th post on a blog titled Think (+) Positive.

Even though it was almost a full week ago, the memory of that day is still so vivid and painfully clear. I remember brushing my teeth while my husband stared at the digital, waiting for that beautiful word "pregnant" to show up. I remember the look on his face and hearing his voice tell me that it doesn't matter, it's probably not right as my eyes focused instead on the "not pregnant" flashing on the tiny screen. I remember crying as he held me, whispering over and over again in my ear that we just need to wait for the beta, the test is probably wrong anyway, even though I knew it wasn't.

I remember numbly sitting in the cold, hard chair as our favorite faux hawk phlebotomist tried to joke with me as he fought with my vein. I wanted to yell at him to stop, to stop trying to poke me because I wasn't pregnant anyway, and I could no longer stand the sight of needles, I was just so tired of being poked, prodded, and stuck. I remember hating my body. My ugly, distorted, bruised and hormone filled failure of a body.

I remember texting everyone that knew of our situation, because I didn't have the heart to call them and tell them in person, or the ability to do it without crying. I remember getting the beta results back-zero-and telling my husband, only to watch the tears stream down his cheeks as the reality of our situation finally became truth to him, courtesy of a blood test.

I remember feeling like my life was over.

It just wasn't fair. It's all wrong. All of the signs along the way added up, and this was supposed to be our time. I saw a lady bug yesterday, the symbol of hope, and I knew this was it. My last posting just happened to fall at 99, leaving this post as my 100th, and it just had to be a positive one, literally. There were so many praying for us. People I've never even met in real life were pouring out their hearts to God, praying for our pumpkins, our miracles.

We put in healthy embryos. Two of them. Two beautiful, healthy little expanded blasts that were going to be our little girls. And third, not so healthy one that we just couldn't bear to leave out and try to make it to freeze, because he probably wouldn't survive. He was our little boy. He was supposed to survive in my womb better than in that darn petri dish. I was supposed to be pregnant. I am supposed to be pregnant right now. I'm supposed to be a mother, it's what my body was made for.

Then I woke up the next day, and I was still breathing.

I was very much alive. And I looked over, and saw my beautiful husband lying there next to me. And I thought about all of my friends and family and loved ones who had sent hundreds of text messages, e-mails, voicemails, phone calls, cards, gifts, and flowers, letting me know that they cried as we cried and prayed for comfort and peace for the both of us.

And I couldn't help but feel blessed, despite my empty womb.

My initial feelings of fear were brought on by the realization that this was it for us. After almost three years, two IUI's, one and a half failed IVF attempts, I would never be a mother. I would never have my own biological child, and I felt as if someone had erected a giant wall right in front of my face, and I couldn't move. I was suffocating. I had no where to go. I was being crushed.

And then, something changed. My husband and I decided that we couldn't change our circumstances, but we could change our attitudes. Worse things have happened. It wasn't over, it couldn't be; we refuse to let this be the end for us.

We refuse to give up.

We have absolutely no idea when or how, but we will try again. After a tearful conversation, God gave us peace with the mutual decision that we will allow ourselves-someday-one more 2-cycle try. If after than point we still aren't successful, then we will move on, fully accepting the fact that we tried our best and did all that we could. But until then, until we find a way to do this again, we aren't done.

And now I have something else to look forward too, to hope for, and I'm healing and thinking positive again. I'm feeling grief, but I know in my heart that God hasn't let us down. Just because He didn't give us the answer we wanted from Him, doesn't mean He doesn't love us or hear our prayers. He heard every last one of them, and He answered them just as it should be. We trust that He has something amazing in store for us, and we can't help but feel excited again for the future, and the blessings that we know He has in store for us, whatever they may be.

It's not normal, I know. It's probably strange to everyone reading this that I'm really doing alright, and I have been since less than twenty four hours after receiving the news that our perfect IVF cycle was a failure. But for me, it's impossible to look around at every thing that God's given me and feel hopeless. To feel lost. To feel like it's all over, and I have nothing left.

A dear friend of mine reminded me that in the Bible, it's documented that every single woman that prayed for a child received one. Every single one of them. It may not have been in their time, but it was in God's time, and I really do believe that if God gives you the desire to be a mother, He will indeed fulfill that desire, someway, somehow.

How could I believe all this and not be hopeful? How could I trust that God is in control and not praise Him for all He's given me, and all He'll continue to give to me in the future?

Our first full attempt at an IVF failed. It didn't work. I still have a million questions, I'm still fighting the disappointment and sadness, and sometimes I still reach down to my stomach to feel the life inside of me. When I remember suddenly that those tiny lives no longer exist, I quickly pull my hand away as the grief hits me like a thousand pounds of dead weight.

The sight of pumpkins breaks my heart.

But I know that I'll keep breathing; I have no other choice. I know that God has a plan for us bigger than we could ever dream of on our own. I know that He is holding our little ones in His hands, and I know they are praising Him right now, in a place that's a far better home than my womb and this world ever could have been for them.

And for that, this 100th post is still a positive one.

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be."
-Douglas Adams

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Keep On Shooting

Saturday, 10-17-09 (Day 32) 4dp5dt

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): I remember the days when my only concern was how much weight I was gaining from this little pill.

Now all I want to do is get fat; really pregnant fat.

Ciprofloxacin (500mg, oral pill): Last one, praise the Lord!

PIO (1ml, IM injection): Tonight, I showed off my behind bruises to a few choice friends.

I'm pretty sure they were impressed.

4dp5dt-At four days past a 5 day transfer, the implantation process should continue as the morula buries deeper in the lining.

Sunday, 10-18-09 (Day 33) 5dp5dt

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): You'd think that after more than a month straight of taking these, I wouldn't forget to take them anymore.

But I still do.

And I'm blaming it on pregnancy brain.

PIO (1ml, IM injection): The heating pad is my friend. When placed on my backside after an injection and left on for about an hour, it completely stops the muscle soreness that I would normally experience the following day.

5dp5dt-At 5 days past a 5 day transfer, the morula should be completely implanted in the lining, and has placenta and fetal cells.

Monday, 10-19-09 (Day 34) 6dp5dt

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): I don't think these ever really affected my appetite after all. Now that all of my other pills and shots are complete, I no longer have headaches, crazy cravings or fatigue.

PIO (1ml, IM injection):Now if only I could find something to stop the bruising, I'd be set.

6dp5dt-At 6 days past a 5 day transfer, the placenta cells should begin to secret HCG in the blood.

I had full intentions of testing for that precious HCG this morning, but when I woke up to see some pinkish red blood mixed in with the nastiness of last nights PIO suppository residue, I chickened out.

I'm not going to lie; I'm pretty scared, and desperation has set in.

I have the reassurance from fellow IVFers and my doctor that some light bleeding can be completely normal. I also know that I serve a God that is the creator of life, and He is hearing the prayers that are going up today; He is more than capable of perfoming a miracle on our behalf.

But that doesn't mean that just because He can, He will.

Tuesday, 10-20-09 (Day 35) 7dp5dt

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): It's probably just stress and nerves, but my appetite for regular food is pretty much non-existent.

PIO (1ml, IM injection): As much of an inconvienience and bruise maker this shot is, I'm praying that tonight won't be my last one.

7dp5dt-At 7 days past a 5 day transfer, more HCG is produced as the fetus develops.

I was really hoping not to find any scary pinkish-red discharge this morning, but that's exactly what I found. My heart immediately dropped as I realized I was destined yet again to spend the day chugging water and checking my panties for spotting.

Just like yesterday, the majority of the pinkish-red discharge found it's way out early this morning, with just a few episodes of a bit of pink residue on the toilet paper throughout the rest of the day. My doctor asked me not to look to far into the situation, because it's not a full flow and therefore could simply be vaginal irritation brought on by my suppositories, but I know it could also be much more.

Part of me wants to give up now and be realistic-seeing fresh blood is never a good thing-but there is still another piece of my heart that just can't let go of hoping this is our time, no matter how hard I try. I'm still struggling to hold on to the possiblity of a positive outcome, but somewhere deep inside I still feel peace.

I'm hoping this is just another bump in the road to show how powerful God and prayer can be when overcoming the odds seem utterly impossible. And until my beta tomorrow comes and puts an end to this strenuous waiting game, I'll keep doing the only thing I know how.

I'll just keep shooting.

"Courage is the discovery that you may not win, and trying when you know you can lose."
-Tom Krause

Friday, October 16, 2009

One Shot Deal

Wednesday, 10-14-09 (Day 29) 1dp5dt

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): I'm eating like a bird during the day, and hogging like a heifer at night.

You know it's bad when you use a pig and cow in the same description.

Ciprofloxacin (500mg, oral pill): Still swallowing these big guys, two a day. One in the am, and one in the pm.

PIO (1ml, IM injection): If only it were appropriate to take a picture of my behind and post it for the world to see, then maybe you'd all feel my pain.

Progesterone (50mg suppositories): I know I'm all about the honest daily documentation of all things IVF, but recording this one is going to have to remain a one shot deal.

These rocket shaped suppositories have to be inserted vaginally every night for the next thirty days, and I just can't imagine what in the world I'd be able to write about that wouldn't be borderline inappropriate about something this messy, that's going into such a private place, for such a long period of time.

So I'll spare you the details that you really don't want to hear anyway.

1dp5dt: At one day past a 5 day transfer, a blast is expected to hatch out of it's shell.

Freeze Report: I never received a call letting me know if any of our remaining pumpkins made it to freeze, so I'm praying that no news is still good news.

Thursday, 10-15-09 (Day 30) 2dp5dt

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): Since I'm treating my body like it's already pregnant, I'm trying my best to only eat what I want the life inside of me to be eating, and I'm finding it a lot easier to be held accountable for good food choices when your feeding more than just yourself.

Ciprofloxacin (500mg, oral pill): Still taking them.

PIO (1ml, IM injection): Still getting shot.

2dp5dt: At 2 days past a 5 day transfer, a blastocyst is expected to attach to a site on the uterine lining.

Freeze Report: After sending numerous e-mails regarding the state of my precious remaining pumpkins, I was finally informed that none of our left over little ones reached a freezable state.

I'm saddened because I feel like they were already my children and I'll never get to know them. But I have to trust that God will take good care of each one of them, and I'm praying even harder for the life that's inside of me now.

Friday, 10-16-09 (Day 31) 3dp5dt

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): I found a new recipe for some delicious oatmeal pumpkin chocolate chip cookies today, and immediately ran to the store to purchase the ingredients for a double batch of them.

It's OK because they're pumpkin, guys.

Ciprofloxacin (500mg, oral pill): Only one more day. After tomorrow I'll be back to where I started, with only one pill a day.

I have no idea what I'm going to do with myself.

PIO (1ml, IM injection): Amidst all the complaining about the array of pills I'm taking, I've forgotten to acknowledge how very nice it is to only be receiving one shot a day.

3dp5dt: At 3 days past a 5 day transfer, implantation should begin as the blastocyst begins to bury in the lining.

With the completion of the majority of my meds, the feelings of sickness, nausea, bloating, and headaches are slowly subsiding, and my previous belly bruises are almost completely faded. The worry and fear have also mellowed as the stressful wait for follicle counts, retrieval dates, fertilization reports, embryo statuses and transfer day have all passed.

On the day of the transfer, all I could think about was the life inside of me. I just knew this would work, and I was praising God all day long for the blessing of being able to make it this far, no matter what the outcome. And now, at a mere 3 days past transfer, I find myself forgetting to pray and thank God for the miracle of what's inside of me.

Because it may not last, and today should be a day of celebration. These precious few days I have left with the innocence of assuming I'm pregnant are ticking away faster then I ever imagined, and I don't want the joy I feel or the attachment I have to the life inside of me to fade away.

I'm spending more time dreading next weeks test then looking forward to it. I'm not in a huge hurry for next Wednesday to come, because in my mind I'll remain pregnant until something tells me otherwise; and I'm trying so hard not to think about that. I want to enjoy today, this very minute, and praise God for the blessing of this entire journey, no matter the outcome next week. I don't want to forget that I'm pregnant today, and I don't want to loose hope that I'll continue to be pregnant tomorrow.

And for the next nine months.

Because I've done my part, and the rest is up to God. There is nothing more I can do than to pray and give everything to the Lord, allowing Him to turn my fear of the unknown into joy and praise for the blessings I have already experienced. This cycle has been full of ups and downs, but our prayers have been answered with miracles and I know that people are continuing to pray fervently for more miracles of the pumpkin variety.

And for that, I am grateful.

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."
-Melody Beattie

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Transfer Day

Tuesday, 10-13-09 (Day 28)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): Because of nerves and swollen girl parts my appetite isn't what it used to be, so this little guy is back to it's original job of simply prepping my body to accept-and not reject-the new life that will soon be inside me.

Ciprofloxacin (500mg, oral pill): These are still ridiculously big.

Dostinex (.5mg, oral pill): Tonight I took the last of my little estrogen dropping pills, and I'll remain grateful for their ability to keep my bloating and swelling in check. I wasn't in nearly as much pain as I was last time, and I'm just about back down to my normal pooch.

PIO (1ml, IM injection): I'm pretty sure having to ice an entire side of my cheek hurts worse than these shots, because I'm trying so hard to numb the area that I end up with freezer burn.

And my husband is disgusted that I don't sanitize the ice pack afterward.

Egg Transfer: Completely uncharacteristic of early October weather in California, a perfect storm was raging today. I woke up to dark, clouded sky's pouring down the heavy rain, and blustery wind raging through and destroying anything in it's path.

It was beautiful.

I'm not a huge fan of the rain; mostly because it messes up hair and clothes and makes driving difficult, but I've always loved the first real storm of the year. There's nothing more cozy then listening to the rain bounce off the windows while your snuggled up and warm, especially right after a dry, hot summer. So when I woke up this morning and saw the gloomy weather, I couldn't think of a better day to do an egg transfer.

Every minute that drew closer to my appointment time without a phone call telling me not to come was a good thing, because that meant I must still have some little embryos growing. My heart was still beating faster than it should, but I took my time getting ready and calmed myself with prayer and my iPod playing inspirational songs. I wanted to enjoy every moment of this day and try my best to remain positive, all while trying to look good for the first introduction to my embryos.

As our in-laws drove us through the storm and partially flooded streets of Sacramento, I started to get anxious. Not only because it was about 15 minutes until our appointment time and we were late because of the traffic caused by broken tree limbs setting in the middle of the freeway and partially flooded streets, but because my phone was ringing.

And it was the doctors office.

My heart skipped a beat or too, and I felt light headed. As I answered the phone, I prayed they weren't calling to let me know that they just checked on my precious pumpkins and found them all arrested, canceling today's transfer and our last shot at our own biological family. We were so close, and I just couldn't imagine it all ending now.

But despite my constant lack of faith, God continued to bless. The nurse had no information on the amount of embryos remaining or the status of their stages, but she did let us know that the embryologist just checked on them and the transfer was still on; and she was just calling to make sure we were safe in the storm.

And I could finally breath again.

Since we got the the office about 20 minutes late with a more than full bladder, they allowed me to release it and then start drinking again. There was only one other patient doing a transfer that day and she had arrived early, so they simply switched our appointments. And as I sat there drinking water to painfully overstuffed my bladder for the second time that day, all I could think about were my tiny little pumpkins and how many of them had survived.

Shortly after, we were called back to set in doctor Greene's office and told he would be with us in just a minute. We were both nervous as we waited for him to come in, having no idea what to expect. The room was silent as we sat perfectly still, contemplating the possibilities and scenarios of what we were about to jump into.

After the longest 30 seconds of my life, Dr. Greene entered the room and sat down in the chair across from us. He opened up his folder, and started pulling out pictures of our single grade 3 blast and our two grade 2 expanded blasts, all while explaining to us that the other three were still being watched closely for the possibility of reaching the blast stage and freezing.

I was shocked.

All six of our pumpkins were still alive and well, and half of them were blasts, with a third of them reaching the expanded blast stage. That is pretty amazing, given the statistics; and I could pretty much hear God in my head saying Oh ye of little faith, I told you so!

Or maybe it was the Dr. I was hearing, because he was shaking his finger at me and telling me I shouldn't be surprised. I had sent him a few e-mails to which he responded by telling me not to worry because everything was progressing well. He let me know that if there was cause for concern, he would have been truthful with me, but he insisted I relax and remain positive.

But I never listen, and now I was getting lectured for it over a picture of my beautiful blasts.

We spent a few minutes going over the details with the doctor and deciding our next steps. He gave us his recommendation of how many and which ones to transfer, and then left the room to allow my husband and I to make the final decision. We disputed for a few moments, contemplating the possibilities of our situation with open hearts and minds, and after another question or two my husband reached the decision that we were both most comfortable with. The doctor then informed the embryologist of our choice, and I was given a small yellow pill and whisked away into the transfer room.

I was told to remove my clothing from the waist down and set on the table. As I started to undress and my husband took his seat to the right of the bed, I tried to take a mental picture of the room and my surroundings, because I never wanted to forget any of this. And then I started to worry, realized how fast things were moving, wondering if the freshly taken Valium would kick in on time.

As I finished undressing and sat on the table, my husband peeked his head out to let them know we were ready. But as the team came in the room and took their places, they let me know that I was sitting on the wrong end of the table.

And I was still wearing my panties.

So after a quick and embarrassing switch up that I wished I could blame on the Valium (but couldn't because I'd only taken it five minutes prior), we were in position and ready to begin. I warned the nurse I may pee on her because my bladder was so incredibly full, but she ignored me and pressed hard on my pooch with the sonogram wand, trying to find my jelly bean shaped uterus, and the doctor assumed his usual southern position and and let me know that the nurse must like me, because she warmed up his speculum.

She must have liked me a lot, because it felt like a curling iron was being slid inside of me.

I knew the Valium hadn't kicked in yet because I could feel everything and I certainly wasn't relaxed. First I was flushed out with a cleaning liquid to remove all cervical mucous, and then a small catheter was inserted into my uterus, just like in an IUI, only this time I was able to watch the entire process on the computer screen. As soon as everything was in place, the embryologist was called in to finish up the process, bringing in his very own tiny catheter and placing it inside the larger one. We all watched as a tiny spark showed up on the screen where new life was placed inside of my womb for the very first time ever.

After the procedure, my bladder was drained using a small catheter. Let me tell you, there is nothing more embarrassing than an entire room listening to you pee for more than 5 minutes, while your feet are still up in stirrups and an awkward silence fills the room.

Oh, but it felt so much better.

For the final step of the process, I was left lying somewhat upside down as a precautionary. The doctor said that it wasn't necessary, but it just gives everything a chance to settle in and relax. He turned on some soothing music and my husband and I were left in the dim room for about an hour, hoping, praying, and of course texting.

And then it was over. I was given lab slips for my HCG betas, instructions to avoid strenuous exercise and lifting more than 10 pounds, and the assurance that as of right now, I'm pregnant. Bed rest wasn't necessary, but taking it easy was, so we headed to lunch and then back to my in-laws. I felt giddy the entire time, knowing that at least for the moment, there was life inside of me.

I swore that if we ever made it this far, I wouldn't be able to handle the wait, wondering if the Lord chose to bless us with a pregnancy. But to be quite honest, I've never felt more peaceful. The majority of the difficult waiting is over; the eggs have been grown and retrieved, they have lived and thrived, and God has allowed the doctor to place life inside of me. A mixture of my husband and myself is setting inside of me at this very moment, and I realize we've done all we can possibly do. We are secure in our decision of the amount transferred, and the rest is up to our Heavenly Father, there is nothing more we can do.

God has been with us and this process every step of the way, even during the times when I spent more energy worrying that trusting and believing in Him and His abilities. Our family, friends, and even some whom we've never met before have poured out their hearts and prayed for us and our precious pumpkins, and I know that God heard every single one of those prayers.

And He'll continue to hear the prayers as we wait to see what will come of this cycle, praising Him and hoping for a positive outcome.


"Hope is like a bird that senses the dawn and carefully starts to sing while it is still dark."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Embryo Growth Report {Part II}

Saturday, 10-10-09 (Day 25)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): It's hard to consume large quantities of food when your ovaries are the size of oranges.

Ciprofloxacin (500mg, oral pill): I've transformed from a shotaholic to a pill popper.

My bathroom counter looks like a pharmaceutical center.

Dostinex (.5mg, oral pill): Check.

PIO (1ml, IM injection): Ouch.

This afternoon, we headed to the pumpkin patch with our nieces and nephews. As usual, my husband and I were the only couple present not toting an adorable baby or toddler, but we had a great time all the same. It was sort of therapeutic to watch all of the little ones stomp around the humongous pumpkins, ride in the cow train, and play with the animals.

And not being able to ignore the symbolic-ness of hanging out in a pumpkin patch, I picked out 5 small pumpkins for our 5 precious embryos that I hope are still growing.

And then I found a tiny 6th one, because I'm not giving up hope that our 6th little egg may still fertilize and grow, catching up to the rest.

Sunday, 10-11-09 (Day 26)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): I know they aren't inside of me anymore, but I'm still eating for the 6 of us, possibly 7.

Ciprofloxacin (500mg, oral pill): Why in the world does this pill have to be so big, when all the other ones are so small?

Dostinex (.5mg, oral pill): I wonder if this little guy will thin my lining? I better start drinking more POM juice, just in case.

PIO (1ml, IM injection): My poor behind is covered in little blue bruises and tiny red dots, and it feels like someone literally kicked my butt.
Or punctured it several times with a large needle.

Embryo Report: I don't think I've ever been as nervous as I was today. I sat through Sunday school and church services, checking my phone every few seconds, waiting for it to light up and bring me the news I've been waiting for.

But we all know a watched phone doesn't ring.

The only thing keeping me sane was the constant reminders from friends and family, via text message, e-mail, and in person, letting me know that they were praying so incredibly hard for our precious 5-possibly 6-embryos. I spent the entire morning and early afternoon shifting through moments of peace, and moments of wanting to puke. Moments of knowing God is in control, and moments of the blinding memory of what happened the last Sunday I was impatiently waiting for a call.

I tried to decide in my head what state of news I would be OK with. Which phone call outcome would qualify as a success, which would be just average, and which would bring me to my knees. Would 3 embryos growing be enough, or would I only be satisfied if all 5 of them were growing? And if all 5 were in fact growing, would the amount of cells they housed determine my happiness?

And then I realized I don't even know how many cells there supposed to have on day three anyway.

So I had to stop and catch my breath several times. Remind myself that God is watching over them, and He loves them even more than I do. Deep down I knew that over thinking and over analyzing weren't going to make my phone ring, and they certainly wouldn't help my little pumpkins grow and divide cells.

I had to remind myself to drop it like it's hot.

Even though it wasn't easy, I managed to keep my sanity until the phone rang at 2pm on the dot. But the second I heard that metal maroon communication device ring and saw the screen light up with the 916 area code, I lost it. And just as I was afraid the long awaited call would be transferred to voice mail I picked it up.

I don't remember how the conversation started, but I do remember feeling the knots in my stomach and looking down at the white of my gripped knuckles. I also remember trying to wrap my head around the miracle of the 6 embryos the nurse was saying that we had growing in culture. And before I could think to ask about their grades and amount of cells, I was speechless.

And that does not happen often.

I had already concluded that if we had all 5 of our current embryos survive, it would be a miracle. But God is good and he answered our prayers, and not only did He decide to keep all 5 of our pumpkins growing, but He allowed the 6th little one to catch up to the rest, blessing us far beyond our expectations.

It started to sink in as the nurse continued with the report and scheduled our five day transfer for Tuesday. 3 of our embryos are 4-celled and grade 2, 2 of them are 6-celled and grade 2, and our little rockstar is 6-celled and grade 1 (on a scale of 1-3, 1 is the best).

We are still fervently praying, because we aren't completely safe yet. With only one of our embryos graded at a 1, and only having 6 cells as our highest count, we aren't completely out of the woods. Conflicting reports say that by 72 hours after retrieval a healthy embryo should have anywhere from 6-10 cells, and we are at the bottom of that "should-be".

But God has blessed so far, and I have no doubts that He can do even more with these precious little pumpkins that are hopefully continuing to grow and divide cells in culture. There is a possibility we'll get an update on the status of our embryos tomorrow, but the nurse doesn't think we'll be getting another report until the transfer on Tuesday morning.

And so begins another two day wait, hoping and praying that these little ones make it to the blastoycte stage with out arresting.

It just never ends.

Monday, 10-12-09 (Day 27)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): Now I'm officially eating for 7.

Ciprofloxacin (500mg, oral pill): This horse pills are getting harder and harder to swallow, but I'm hanging in there.

Dostinex (.5mg, oral pill): Only one day left.

PIO (1ml, IM injection): This better be worth it.

The nurse called to verify my transfer appointment for 11am tomorrow, but not to give me another embryo report. The embryologist said it's best to leave our little pumpkins alone as much as possible to help them grow, because the oxygen and light required to check them out may damage them.

And we don't want to risk that.

Even though I have no idea how my sweet little embryos are growing right now, the way I'm feeling is like night and day from yesterday. On this cycle day last time, we received the call that we had no remaining embryos. Although that could still very well be the case tomorrow, I have such a sense of calm after hearing yesterdays results-which I'm classifying as nothing short of a miracle-and we are still praising God for showing us again that with Him anything is possible, and the power of prayer is still so very real.

God has a plan that is bigger than me, and although He may not choose for these little embryos to grow and thrive, He has blessed us so far and I just need to trust that He will hold them-and me-in His hands throughout the duration of this process.

And I'll just keep praying for miracles.

"Take a deep breath, count to ten, and tackle each task one step at a time."
-Linda Shalaway

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fertilization Report {Part II}

Friday, 10-9-09 (Day 24)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): I'm so bloated and swollen right now, I can't even imagine how I complained about my little pooch before all of this.

I couldn't suck it in even if I tried.

Ciprofloxacin (500mg, oral pill): This big guy makes me sick to my stomach, but so does the stress associated with IVF, so it's not the only culprit.

Dostinex (.5mg, oral pill): I'm not in quite as much pain as I was after the retrieval last time, I haven't even taken any pain meds or Tylenol yet. I'm pretty sure this little pill, and it's hormone regulating powers are to thank for that.

PIO (1ml, IM injection): Even though it's the big one, it's my only shot left, and for that I'm grateful.

Clindamycin (150mg vaginal suppository): Tonight was my last one, praise the Lord.

Fertilization Report: Of the 22 eggs retrieved yesterday, they were able to performed ICSI on 7 of them (where they take an individual sperm and shoot it directly into the egg). As of today, 5 are fertilized and doing "well" and 1 is still being watched for possible fertilization.

One one side of the equation, 5-possibly 6-embryos out of 22 retrieved eggs seems pretty unsatisfactory. But on the other hand, it's far better than the 2 embryos we had to work with last time, especially since they were made presumably from only slightly mature eggs.

I was sick to my stomach all morning-partially from the pain of retrieval but mostly from nerves-waiting for the fertilization phone call. Last time I was woken at 8am by the call, this time I had to wait until after lunch time to receive it, and the anticipation was almost more than I could bare. The worst part was that after the phone call was complete, I couldn't decided if I was happy or sad.

And then I felt horrible.

Absolutely terrible.

Because I was more upset about the lack of mature eggs and fertilized embryos than I was grateful for the 5-possibly 6-precious pumpkins that I had. I wanted to be extremely excited, but all I could feel was a numbness that was quickly replaced by a fear that still hasn't gone away.

God always has been and still is in control; I know this. But the blinding anticipation of waiting until Sunday to hear how my precious little ones are growing is enough to drive me insane with completely unnecessary worry and fear.

These precious embryos could very well all grow and thrive and divide cells, and I really have no reason to believe otherwise. Except the fact that last time, they didn't. Neither of my two fertilized embryos made it past 3 cells, and that falls far short of the 8 they are expected to be on day three. So how am I to believe that this time will be any different?

In my head exists a jumble of emotions, mixed with desperation and a tiny bit of hope. I'm slightly upset that less than a third of our eggs were mature again, because I always had the nagging feeling that we should have waited longer this time. I'm disappointed in myself for struggling so hard to hold onto faith and believe that trusting in God is all I can-and should-do at this point. I'm tired of feeling sick to my stomach over these precious little embryos that I can't help but worry about, and I'm ashamed to be so selfish as to complain about something that could very well be the answers to our prayers.

But deep down, I still have the unwavering hope that I'm trying so desperately to hold onto. No matter the outcome of this cycle, I still have my God, my husband, my family and my friends.

And as of right now, 5 little pumpkins.

"I can complain because rosebushes have thorns, or I can rejoice because thorn bushes have roses."
- Author Unknown

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Retrieval Day {Part II}

Thursday, 10-8-09 (Day 23)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): Because of today's retrieval and it's crazy no-eating-or drinking-after-midnight-the-night-before rules, this pill wasn't taken until this evening. I hope it's insomnia doesn't rob me of the sleep that both my mind and body are lacking.

Ciprofloxacin (500mg, oral pill): Quite a bit larger than it's tiny co-workers, this horse pill is harder to swallow than the rest. But it's an anti-biotic, and I'm desperate to do anything I can to keep my body ready for implanting in just a few short days.

So until then, bigger is better.

Dostinex (.5mg, oral pill): So far I haven't experienced any side effects of this tiny white pill; in fact I think it's E2 reducing powers are keeping me from swelling and bloating, and for that I am grateful.

PIO (1ml, IM injection): And we're back to the big shots.

Hopefully these stick around for the next few months this time.

Clindamycin (150mg vaginal suppository): It almost feels inappropriate to be writing about this little rocket shaped suppository that is shoved into a very private place, but for the sake of daily documentation of all things IVF, I must continue for one more day.

Egg Retrieval: After forcing my brain to shut down and try it's hand at sleep last night, I woke up with a peace and joy that can only be attributed to all the the prayers of our dear family and friends. My brain still struggled and debated, gently swaying between fear and happiness, but there was a present calm amidst the storm.

As we packed our bags and left for Sacramento for the third time this week, I kept praying and selfishly asking God to work His magic in today's retrieval. And then I would feel bad, because I realized I should be asking God to help others, like Noelle as she has her second beta today, and Summer as she struggles with receiving a negative result from her latest IVF, and Robin as she grows her precious miracle inside of her, just to name a few. So I'd stop and ask God to intervene for others and their needs, but then I'd find my self heading right back to my own again, going boldly to the thrown and making my requests made known to God.

Because praying is really all I can do.

As soon as we arrived at the office, we were promptly asked to sign papers, and my husband and I were immediately taken in two different directions; his to make his contribution to our precious pumpkins, and mine into the restroom to empty my bladder and change into the appropriate garb. I was then rushed into the pre-op room where my temperature and blood pressure were taken, and my IV was inserted.

Before I could ask if I would see my husband before being put under, I was whisked into the operating room and felt a surprising gust of cool air hit my naked behind as the anesthesiologist lifted up my gown and sat me on the end of the hard, sterile table. Suddenly I was surrounded by nurses and the doctor, all pulling at different parts of my barely clothed body, scooting me down on the table and lifting my legs into the stirrups.

I remember feeling embarrassingly exposed in a rare moment of modesty, and then I was out.

I woke up asking how many eggs were retrieved, and when the nurse said 22 I thought I was still dreaming. I must have asked her and anyone else in the room several more times, but I kept getting the same answer, until it finally sank in that really, truly retrieved 22 precious pumpkin follicles.

And then I started crying.

At that point the doctor walked in and immediately rushed to my side, disturbed by my tears and asking if I was in any pain. I assured him I was feeling fine, I was just so incredibly happy. Everyone was staring at me like I was insane, and all I could manage to do was cry and babble about the surprising number of follicles that were removed from my once shamed but newly reclaimed rockstar ovaries.

God is good, and although He proved again today that He is in control and in the business of answering prayers, we still aren't out of the woods yet. The doctor said that out of our pumpkin patch of 22 follicles, 7 of them seem to be mature, but he's keeping his eye on 4 or 5 others. We won't know the true amount of mature and fertilized embryos until tomorrow morning though, so once again we're doing our best to hurry up and wait.

The pain of last times results are still fresh in my mind, and there is still a piece of my heart that is just waiting to be broken by a sudden change in direction from tomorrows phone call. But I'm continuing to pray that God blesses and holds our precious pumpkins in His hands, ripening them and maturing them and allowing as many to fertilize as possible, as only He can do.

Because in Him, anything is possible; and pumpkin growing is a piece of cake.

"To hope is to risk pain. To try is to risk failure, but risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing."
-Author Unknown

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Monday, 10-5-09 (Day 20)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): I didn't have much of an appetite today, so maybe this pill's hunger making magic is wearing off.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): After all this time, I've finally figured out the best place to shoot is directly under the belly button. My skin is tougher and tends to bleed a little bit more to the left and right, but I hardly feel a thing when that needle hits right down the middle.

Follistim (225units, subQ injection): I finally used up all of my Follistim cartridges, so now I'm using the old fashioned vials of Follistim, for which I have no needles or knowledge of how to draw up. Luckily my nurse coordinator did the hard work for me and hooked me up with a couple days worth of pre-drawn Follistim injections.

Luveris (1/2ml, subQ injection): Since she's the expert, I also had her draw up my next two Luveris injections, since I can't seem to get them right anyway. I watched-impressed of course-as she followed her own directions, gently mixed the liquid, and drew out the exact amount for the first shot.

But when it came time to draw the second half, she was confused as to why she was coming up short of the 1/2ml that she needed, turning the syringe in her hands and staring at it like she was waiting for it to tell her it's secret, just like I've been doing.

I couldn't help by say it.

I told you so.

Follicle Count Ultrasound and E2: As I sat on that cold, sterile table again, I was feeling positive, but slightly more apprehensive than last time. I tried my best to make small talk with the doctor and my nurse, but it was a little difficult to do as I watched him lubricate the wand that would show us a glimpse of my freshly grown pumpkin patch, or the lack thereof; since-once again-I wasn't feeling a thing.

In it went, and the measuring began as I carefully kept track in my head of the numbers and sizes he was calling out. First was my uterine lining, which he praised at a 15, once again labeling me as an overachiever for extending far past the 9 he was hoping to see. I tried to share his enthusiasm over that high number, but my heart dropped a little as I realized that 15 is great, but its still 1.5 smaller than last time.

And then it picked itself up off my uterine lining and jumped right back into my chest as the Doctor started measuring and counting my beautiful pumpkin follicles. I lost track around twenty, mesmerized by the incredibly gorgeous black blobs on the screen. The perfect, precious round circles that could very possibly be a portion of my future babies. But knowing more than I did at this point in the game last time, I quickly became less concerned with quantity and more concerned with matching sizes.

During my last cycle, the sizes of my follicles were all over the place. I remember the doctor calling out random numbers between 10 and 21mm, all ranging in size and shape. This time the majority of the follicles sat around 14, 15 and 16mm; which is excellent because that means we can focus on that particular group and make sure they grow mature and ripe, hopefully avoiding last cycles lack of mature eggs due to a too early trigger and retrieval.

This is exactly what we were hoping for.

After I was once again vertical and sporting panties, the doctor assured me that he was incredibly pleased with my response this time and set me up with another sonogram tomorrow. And as he marched off to visit the next patient, he smiled sheepishly at me and pumped his fist into the air in victory, excitedly telling me to "think positive".

You have no idea, doc.

No idea.

Tuesday, 10-6-09 (Day 21)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): Check.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): I didn't know it at the time, but this was my last Lupron shot. I just may miss the drama of it all, but now my stomach will finally have the chance to recover and de-bruise for the first time in three weeks.

Dostinex (.5mg, oral pill): My E2 level landed higher than they liked yesterday, so we're adding another pill into the mix for the next eight days.

HCG Trigger (1ml, IM injection): When we found out that we would be triggering tonight-a few days earlier than we expected-my husband packed up and drove back down to his parents house and me, towing the necessary extra clothes and trigger shot that I needed for tomorrow.

Before I knew it, 11:45pm arrived and I was icing my behind and planning our shooting location. My husband stood above me, ready to pierce a 22 1/2 Gage needle through my ice cold flesh and into my muscle and tissue, sending a final dose of raging hormones meant to release my organic pumpkin patch.

And I just kept praying that they'd ripe enough this time.

Follicle Count Ultrasound and E2: I was experiencing such an insane mix of emotions as I sat there on that table, watching the fuzzy black screen lay out the rest of this cycles agenda for me in the form of round, dark blobs.

As I sat up and tried to cover myself with the flimsy pink paper that is supposed to act as a blanket but offers no such coverage or warmth, the doctor smiled and stated that we are on for a trigger tonight and retrieval tomorrow. I tried incredibly hard to get excited, but my emotions froze solid as I realized that last time, we did the exact same thing at the very same time, with the same amount of meds, on precisely the same cycle day.

And the heat rose uncontrollably to my cheeks as I considered what that meant.

I wanted to remind the doctor that last time, my eggs ended up not being mature at this stage of the game. I wanted him to remember that I endured weeks and weeks of shots, pills, suppositories, bruising, emotional insanity and tears only to have my precious follicles taken from me too early. I needed him to recall that last time he took my follicles from me, he never gave them back.

This time, I want them back.

But instead I smiled politely and sat through the rest of today's instructions and the trigger shot lecture, falling apart on the inside. To keep myself from breaking down in tears, I repeated in my head that God is in control, and the doctor knows what he's doing. He knows me, he knows follicles, and he knows what happened last time; and I have no doubts that he wants to avoid the disasters of last time just as much as I do.

Every cycle is different, and just because last time resulted in failure doesn't mean this time will yield the same results. And my E2 level was slightly higher than they like to see yesterday, so I'd like to think that means that my little pumpkins are larger in size and more numerous in quantity this time around, and that could be a very good thing.

I need that to be a very good thing, because I can't do last time again.

Wednesday, 10-7-09 (Day 22)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): Massive amounts of sugar were consumed today, in order to ensure the sweetness of my little pumpkins, of course.

Dostinex (.5mg oral pill): I'm not sure exact what the purpose of this medicine is besides holding or lowering E2 levels, the bottle says it may cause upset stomach, headache, and nausea.

Pretty much everything I'm already experiencing, so I wouldn't know the difference.

Clindamycin (150mg vaginal suppository): These are always fun.

Tonight, I'm dancing dangerously close between excitement and insanity. I realize that focusing on the dates and methods of last cycle aren't going to help anything other than to feed my over analyzing obsessive compulsive nature. The doctor is the expert, if he feels that now is the appropriate time to release my precious follicles then I need to accept that, trust him, and move on.

I serve a God that is bigger and more powerful than follicle counts, lining sizes, and retrieval dates. It's still hard knowing that God is more than capable of allowing this to work, but it may not be in His will to do so. He knows the desire in our hearts, but that doesn't mean our prayers will be answered just as we ask them to be.

But I do know it will be OK. I'm holding onto faith that no matter what the outcome is tomorrow, God will bless us in one way or another. Instead of focusing on the mistakes of the past, I'll remember the victories, no matter how small; like free birth control pills, donated medicine, easy shots, and the simple fact that we're able to be on this journey in the first place.

And I'll expect a miracle.

Or maybe two.

"Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it's always your choice."
-Wayne Dyer

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Triple Shot

Thursday, 10-1-09 (Day 16)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): Grapes.

I can't get enough grapes.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): Easy.

Follistim (225units, subQ injection): Tonight I agreed to watch my two nephews for a few hours while my sister and brother-in-law ran around town. So with two under the age of two and my injection schedule falling dangerously close to bath, bottle and bed time, everything was a little crazy.

Just how I like it.

As my husband and I tried as quickly as possible to set everything out and get the injections going, the youngest was crying and drooling on the kitchen floor-wanting to be picked up-and the oldest was trying to create a mural on my walls and linoleum flooring with his crayons.

It made us seriously think twice about what we were about to do.

Luveris (1/2ml, subQ injection): I was scared. Petrified, actually. After last cycles craziness where I inadvertently administered a super concentrated dose of this medicine for lack of paying attention-twice-I was terrified of messing up again. So my heart was racing as I pulled apart the first tiny box and set out my vials, the directions, and an alcohol wipe.

And that's when the trouble began.

The e-mail from my nurse coordinator called for a 3cc syringe, but all I could find was a 1cc syringe. Knowing it would work but wanting to follow the directions to a "T", I dug in my excess needle bag and found a 3ml syringe.

And then I had a brain fart.

For some unknown reason, someone decided that a ml should be the same thing as a cc, but with a different name. This I knew, but I was scared and nervous and being completely ridiculous, so I froze. I called my mother, then my sister, and after neither of them answered, I called my friend Jenny (who's also a nurse) just to make sure a ml was in fact equivalent to a cc.

After my frantic phone calls confirmed what I already knew, I read the directions another twenty-million times and finally drew out the 1ml of dilutent and inserted it into the powder vial, gently turning it between my fingers until it was completely dissolved. As I watched the powder liquefy and turn perfectly clear, my paranoia faded to relief.

And then it was time to draw it out. This freshly mixed vial full of 1ml of liquid was enough for two of my 1/2ml shots, so all I had left to do was draw out half with one needle, and half with another, which of course ended up being much easier said than done.

By the time I was finished fighting with the tiny, air tight vial and the clumsy, bulky needles, I had more than half of the mixture in one syringe, and less half in the other.

Never a dull moment.

Friday, 10-2-09 (Day 17)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): We left for my in-laws today, so I'm pretty sure I'll be eating nothing good for me this weekend, because I'm lacking the self control to make good food choices while away from home.

Might as well just accept it now.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection):I'm just amazed at how proud I am of the amount of bruising covering my belly from these injections.

Follistim (225units, subQ injection): Even after four full days of stimulation drugs, my hard working ovaries are still feeling amazingly normal. Absolutely no twinges, pains, cramps, soreness or bloating.

My body was made for this.

Luveris (1/2ml, subQ injection):Tonight's injection was practically foolproof because I was just using the leftovers from last nights injection.

If only it were always this easy.

Saturday, 10-3-09 (Day 18)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): Still taking them; still eating.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection):When I ordered my medication for this cycle, I didn't have to order any more Lupron because someone graciously donated all that I needed, and I still had enough left over syringes from my first batch to get me through.

Or so I thought.

Of course I waited until I was down to the last syringe to go and look for more in m
y bag of extra syringes, and I found that I was indeed lacking the small ones measuring in units that I use for my Lupron injections.

Because having the right amount of needles would be too perfect right now.

Follistim (225units, subQ injection): Because we don't know how many day's this week I'll be driving to Sacramento to be monitored, my husband and I decided that it would be best for him to go home tonight and I'll stay here at his parents house, which is much closer to the doctors office. That way, he won't miss anymore work than he has too, and I won't have to drive as far.

So tonight, he resumed his duties one final time and gave me my Follistim injection. He's always been in charge of the Follistim Pen, so I was instructed to watch very closely to avoid a probable disaster as I inject myself tomorrow night, completely unattended.

It's fairly easy, but it's just always been his contribution to this process, and I couldn't help but feel slightly overwhelmed as he walked me through the steps of loading and injecting the medication. After he was sure that I had it down he packed his bags and left, leaving me standing there with a new bruise and another injection to manage.

Then my hormones kicked in, and I fought back the tears.

Which is pretty ridiculous because after all, I'm the one that cooked up this crazy idea in the first place. This bright idea came into play when I figured it only takes one of us to attend the follicle check on Monday, and I happen to be the one with a vagina and a pumpkin patch.

But he's the one with the Follistim skills.

Luveris (1/2ml, subQ injection): After my mini breakdown, I had to suck it up and finish my injection duties. Still slightly paranoid about messing up this delicate mixing of medicine, I reread my printed out instructions another fifty-million times and followed them exactly.

But I still ended up with more than half in one syringe, and less than half in the other.

Sunday, 10-4-09 (Day 19)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): I just hope this tiny little pill does it's job and holds up it's end of the bargain, keeping my body from rejecting those precious embryos that we'll be implanting in the next few weeks.

And I hope my follicles hold up their end of the bargain and we make it that far.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): My mother saved the day and raid the hospital for enough unit syringes to hold me over until tomorrows appointment.

Follistim (225units, subQ injection): Once again, I'm at my in-laws church that happends to run an hour later than ours does at home, and I'm forced to shoot up in the kitchen as the clock strikes 6:30pm.

Only this time, I'm doing it alone.

Without my husband in tow to manage the lookout, I resorted to opening the industrial sized fridge door and attempting to hide behind it, all while nervously handling my very first Follistim injection. With my left hip acting as a door stop, I reached over to the counter and put together the pen. Then I opened the alcohol swab and lifted up my dress, trying in one swift motion to swipe and stick.

But when you don't let the alcohol dry, that sucker burns.

Luveris (1/2ml, subQ injection):Then it was time for the luveris. Luckily, this was another left over of a two part injection, so it was already mixed and in the syringe, ready to go. But because I was bleeding from my Follistim injection, I had to take a few seconds to clean up my pooch before bringing more damage to the site, all while still indecently exposed and propping open the ginormous fringe door.

And just as the Luveris cap was off and ready to inject, I heard someone coming.

Faster than I ever thought I could move while half naked and wearing 3" stilettos, I dropped my dress-and the injection-slamming the fridge door and casually leaning up against it like it's normal to hang out by the fridge while everyone else is sitting in church services.

And I waited.

But no one came. because It turns out I had mistaken the ice maker for someone stomping down the hall, on their way to expose me and my floral panties. So after I pulled myself together-and picked my injection up off the floor-I opened the fridge back up, repositioned my self and my dress, and finished the job.

Simple and easy are overrated anyway.

"Life is filled with a lot of stuff, you know. There should never be a dull moment."
-Bea Arthur